Objective: To review the literature concerning the midwifery concept of being with woman and the related nursing concepts of presence and social support during childbirth.
Data sources: Literature in the English language from 1985 through 2000, using MEDLINE and CINAHL.
Data extraction: Discussion of articles from relevant journals and textbooks were included. Pertinent older sources, which enhanced the understanding of the concepts, were reviewed.
Data synthesis: Being with woman is defined as the provision of emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological presence/support by the caregiver as desired by the laboring woman. Ample evidence exists for including being with woman as a central concept of the model of care for women in labor. The qualitative review indicates that women value and desire the attributes of the concept during childbirth. The qualitative and quantitative literature demonstrate beneficial physiological and psychological outcomes for women who experience being with woman.
Conclusions: Obstetric units would be wise to incorporate the being with woman model of care as routine policy for the care of laboring women by midwives and nurses. Being with woman provides psychological and physiological benefits for women, client satisfaction, and potential cost savings.