Support in the first stage of labour from a female relative: the first step in improving

 the quality of maternity services.

Reham khresheh, PhD

Midwifery (2010), 26, e21-e24 

 Objective to undertake a substantial descriptive study to assess whether the provision of labour support, in hospitals in Jordan, by a female relative during the first stage of labour affected duration of labour, use of pharmacological pain relief, mode of delivery and the woman's postpartum perception of the birth experience.

Design  a non-randomised comparison study.

Setting maternity ward in Al-Karak Hospital, the main governmental hospital in the south region of Jordan.

Participants a convenience sample of 226 nulliparous women who had a single term fetus, were expecting an uncomplicated vaginal birth and were in spontaneous labour at the time of admission.

Intervention supportive companionship from a female relative with no medical or nursing experience, concentrating on comfort, reassurance and praise.

Results women who had support during labour were significantly less likely than those in the control group to have pharmacological pain relief, and were significantly more likely than those in the control group to report a good birth experience. There were no statistically significant differences between groups in mode of delivery or duration of labour.

Conclusion labour support by a female relative is a cost-effective and beneficial practice to apply to intrapartum care in hospitals in developing countries with limited resources, such as Jordan. Labour support is not routine practice and is not permitted in Jordan, as in many other countries. Consideration should be given to change maternity systems to ensure that all women have access to such support.