As I see it, the most important aspect of my work is summed up in the abstract of this study:
Continuous support for women during childbirth
In the past, women have been cared for and supported by other women during labour and birth, and have had someone with them throughout, which we call ‘continuous support’. However, in many countries more women are giving birth in hospital rather than at home. This has meant continuous support during labour has become the exception rather than the norm. The aim of this Cochrane Review was to understand the effect of continuous support on a woman during labour and childbirth, and on her baby. We collected and analysed all relevant studies to answer this question (search date: October 2016).
Research shows that women value and benefit from the presence of a support person during labour and childbirth. This support may include emotional support (continuous presence, reassurance and praise) and information about labour progress. It may also include advice about coping techniques, comfort measures (comforting touch, massage, warm baths/showers, encouraging mobility, promoting adequate fluid intake and output) and speaking up when needed on behalf of the woman. Lack of continuous support during childbirth has led to concerns that the experience of labour and birth may have become dehumanised.
Modern obstetric care frequently means women are required to experience institutional routines. These may have adverse effects on the quality, outcomes and experience of care during labour and childbirth. Supportive care during labour may enhance physiological labour processes, as well as women's feelings of control and confidence in their own strength and ability to give birth. This may reduce the need for obstetric intervention and also improve women's experiences.