• childbirth;
  • obstetric labor;
  • massage;
  • developing countries;
  • stress;
  • disasters;
  • doula;
  • continuous support;
  • labor support

Continuous support by a lay woman during labor and delivery facilitates birth, enhances the mother's memory of the experience, strengthens mother-infant bonding, increases breastfeeding success, and significantly reduces many forms of medical intervention, including cesarean delivery and the use of analgesia, anesthesia, vacuum extraction, and forceps. The contribution of doula care has become increasingly available in industrial countries and is beginning to be adopted in hospitals in underdeveloped countries. Research continues to demonstrate the far-reaching value of supportive companionship as a corollary to professional health care during birth. Mothers who are at risk because of medical or social factors and those delivering in situations of stress, including disasters, can benefit greatly from labor support.