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Women’s health & midwifery
It is time to consider labour companionship as a human rights issue
  1. Hannah G Dahlen
  1. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University, Penrith South, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hannah G Dahlen, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University, Penrith South, NSW 2751, Australia; h.dahlen{at}

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Commentary on: Bohren MA, Berger BO, Munthe-Kaas H, et al. Perceptions and experiences of labour companionship: a qualitative evidence synthesis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2019;3:CD012449.

Implications for practice and research

  • Labour companionship helps women, babies and families to have an optimal start to life and a positive birth experience.

  • Not all women get to have a labour companion with them, and this is no longer excusable and should be considered a basic human right.

  • More research is needed into the effectiveness of having an appropriate labour companion for women with psychosocial vulnerabilities and/or specific cultural/ethnic backgrounds.


There is now substantial evidence that companionship during labour leads to enhanced birth outcomes for women and babies. These benefits include: increased spontaneous vaginal birth, shorter duration of labour and decreased caesarean birth, instrumental birth, use of any analgesia, use of regional analgesia, low 5 min Apgar score and negative feelings about childbirth experiences.1 The choice of companionship during labour and birth is recognised by the WHO,2 White Ribbon Alliance …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.