Objectives: The current call for continuous support by women for women during labor takes for granted that women prefer to be supported by other women rather than their husbands. This study aimed at identifying the experiences and preferences of parturients as regards support in labor.
Methods: Questionnaires were administered to 395 parturients at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, south-eastern Nigeria from January to August 2006. Data analysis was both descriptive and inferential at 95% confidence level.
Results: None of the respondents' husband, relations or friends was allowed into the labor room. Ninety-five (24.1%) parturients did not wish to be supported in labor by their husbands. Sixty-five (68.4%) of this group preferred to be supported in labor by medical/midwifery staff only, while the remaining 30 (31.6%) would have preferred a relation. Three hundred (75.9%) parturients, if permitted, would have preferred labor support by their husbands. The preference for labor support by husband was significantly associated with maternal educational status (p=0.003), parity groups (p=0.022), and age category (p=0.037).
Conclusions: Labor support by a non-medical employee of health institutions is not practiced in Enugu, south-eastern Nigeria. Most women would prefer to be supported by their husbands during labor. There is a strong desire by mothers for a policy change as regards labor support by family and friends.