Continuous support for women during childbirth
RHL practical aspects by Brown H
FIRST CONTACT (PRIMARY CARE) LEVEL
Continuous, one–on–one support should always be an integral component of childbirth in all settings. Evidence from this review suggests that the beneficial effects of continuous support are most marked when it is started early in childbirth and in settings where epidurals are not available. This reinforces the importance of providing support to women at the primary care level. Many women start their childbirth at the primary care level, even if they are later transferred to a secondary-care centre. So providing support at the primary care level is of clear benefit, and all efforts should be made to provide such support.
REFERRAL HOSPITAL (SECONDARY CARE) LEVEL
The policy of providing continuous one–on–one support during childbirth should be implemented at all secondary-care hospitals. Policy-makers and administrators should be made aware about this low-cost effective intervention and should implement this intervention in all hospitals.
AT HOME OR IN THE COMMUNITY
In communities where most deliveries take place at home, there usually exist well established traditions for providing continuous, one-on-one support to women during childbirth. So, unless it is found that some members of a community are not receiving such support, no particular action is needed at this level.
This document should be cited as: Brown H. Continuous support for women during childbirth: RHL practical aspects (last revised: 17 October 2007). The WHO Reproductive Health Library; Geneva: World Health Organization.