Objective: To assess the effect of psychosocial support on labour outcomes.
Methodology: A randomised control trial conducted at the University College Hospital Ibadan, Nigeria, from November 2006 to 30 March 2007. Women with anticipated vaginal delivery were recruited and randomised at the antenatal clinic. The experimental group had companionship in addition to routine care throughout labour until two hours after delivery, while the controls had only routine care. The primary outcome measure was caesarean section rate. Others included duration of active phase, pain score, time of breast-feeding initiation and description of labour experience. Multivariable analyses were used to adjust for potential confounders. The level of statistical significance was set at 5%.
Results: Of the 632 recruited, 585 were eventually studied: 293 and 292 were in experimental and control groups, respectively. Husbands constituted about two-thirds of the companions. Women in the control group were about five times more likely to deliver by caesarean section (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.98–12.05), had significantly longer duration of active phase (P < 0.001), higher pain scores (P = 0.011) and longer interval between delivery and initiation of breast-feeding (P < 0.001). However, those in experimental group had a more satisfying labour experience (odds ratio 3.3 95% CI 2.15–5.04).
Conclusion: Women with companionship had better labour outcomes compared to those without. It is desirable to adopt this practice in our health-care settings as an alternative strategy to provide comparable quality services to would-be mothers in labour.