Research has shown that women who receive continuous support during labour from someone who is not employed by the health provider are less likely to use pharmacological pain relief or report dissatisfaction with their experience.  It also shows that mothers experience greater benefits when support starts in early labour in a place where epidurals are not routinely available. (Hodnett, 2004) Click to see

If you are feeling confused about what you have read in books, stories you may have heard from other mothers and information you have received from the maternity services the following may help:


Medicine has developed a method of delivering babies without the mother having to do anything or produce a single drop of natural hormone.  It is called ‘active management’ and involves a number of medical interventions which often lead to what is known as the ‘cascade of intervention’.  Many women and their partners find this type of management extremely traumatic and physically damaging.  You may ask, if it is so damaging why is this type of management used?  Its roots are historical, it developed when childbirth was taken out of the home and into the hospital in the 1960’s, the nature of childbirth as a natural process was overlooked, mothers became ‘patients’ and midwives deferred to doctors allowing hospital methods into the labour room. 


Active management is now written into hospital guidelines and protocols as the ‘usual’ method of managing childbirth and is seen by doctors and midwives alike as a triumph, whatever the physical or mental outcome for the mother.  Anything that steps outside this ‘norm’ is discouraged. This means the mainstream maternity services have no incentive to explore other avenues or provide the conditions which allow women to birth as nature intended.  ‘Dream’ births remain a ‘dream’ except for the lucky few who find themselves being looked after by a midwife passionate about ‘normal’ birth.  For the rest the only way to guarantee the opportunity to birth spontaneously is to hire an independent midwife or experienced doula with a positive attitude to normal, natural birth.