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'Continuous support' during birthing reduces adverse outcomes

A recent study finds that having a person present with the mother to provide continuous support resulted in shorter labors, fewer interventions and an overall increase in the mother's satisfaction with the birthing process. The study was a review of twenty-one clinical trials by the Cochrane Collaboration which compared outcomes for mothers who had received continuous support with those who had not.

In addition to the increased satisfaction of the mother with the process when they had continuous support, the study also found a benefit to the newborns health. Infants born to mothers who received continuous support were less likely to have low Apgar scores. The Apgar score is summary assessment of the health of newborn infant immediately after birth. The five criteria are Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration.

'Continuous Support' was defined as a person who was with the mother for the entire birthing process to provide, comfort measures, information, emotional support and advocacy. According to the researchers having this sort of support can increase the mother's feeling of control and competence during the labor and childbirth.

The continuous support may come from a number of sources including, nurses or midwives that work for the hospital, companions from the woman's family or social network including a husband or other close family member, or a woman who was not a hospital employee nor a companion but instead had some training in assisting birthing mothers, often known as doulas.

According to the study woman who had a doula present had the most benefit from the continuous support, followed by those who had their partner or other close companion present.

Source: Westlaw NewsRoom Continuous Labor Support Reduces Risk of Cesarean Section and Other Adverse Outcomes in Women and Newborns (located via Westlaw, subscription required) February 16, 2011

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