Who can give me support during labor and birth?

Research says that having support from a doula or other labor support specialist who is present solely to provide continuous support has the most benefits. Others who may be important sources of support are your partner, your clinical caregivers and friends or family members.

You may want to have one or more of the following people on hand to aid you throughout labor and birth:

  • Trained labor support specialist or doula: The most common name for such a person is doula (pronounced DOO-lah), a Greek word meaning "woman who serves." Other common names include labor companion, labor support professional, labor support specialist, labor assistant and birth assistant. This type of labor support specialist offers the greatest benefits for your health and safety during labor and birth.
  • Your spouse or partner: While many partners are worried about accompanying a woman during labor, most find that providing help and comfort in labor is very rewarding and that being present at the birth of their child is one of life's highlights.
  • Clinical caregiver: In most cases, this would be a nurse, midwife or doctor.
  • Relative or friend: You can choose someone in your social network with whom you (and your partner, if you have one) feel comfortable sharing this important and intimate time. She or he should be a warm, relaxed and calm person who views labor and birth as healthy, normal events in a woman's life.