"Alone, I wouldn't have known what to do": a qualitative study on social support during labor and delivery in Mexico

Soc Sci Med. 1998 Aug;47(3):395-403. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(98)00077-x.


This article presents some of the most relevant qualitative results of a trial to evaluate the effects of the provision of psychosocial support to first-time mothers during labor, childbirth and in the immediate postpartum period in a social security hospital in Mexico City. The article focuses on the experiences of mothers who have received psychosocial support from a doula (the term doula is used to identify a woman who provides continuous support to a woman during labor. delivery and the immediate postpartum period) and compares them with the experiences of those women who gave birth following normal hospital routine. Sixteen in-depth interviews were held with women in the immediate post partum period (eight of whom had been accompanied by a doula and eight who had not) before they were discharged from hospital, and the results were analyzed using qualitative techniques. The interviews showed that the women accompanied by a doula had a more positive childbirth experience. The differences between both groups related to their perceptions of the childbirth experience; the treatment they received from hospital staff; the information they were given and how well they understood it; their perception of hospital routines; their feelings about cesarean sections and, spatial and temporal perceptions. The most important difference between the two groups was the way they expressed their feelings about their own labor, their sense of control and their self-perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Labor, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Mexico
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Support*