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Support people and doulas for women during labour

Women may choose to have support people including a doula, to share in their labour and birth together with Mater midwives and obstetricians. Supporting your choice of support persons increases the likelihood of a positive birth experience with increased satisfaction. There may be times where only one support person is permitted to support the mother e.g. for infection prevention and control reasons or in an emergency situation.

Support during labour:

  • Continuous social support during labour is encouraged by staff at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals. Labouring women are encouraged to have a birthing partner and one other support person present during this time. (Taking into consideration each woman’s individual circumstances.)
  • While a woman may choose to swap her support team over a long labour, frequent changes are not encouraged.
  • Children related to the labouring woman are permitted providing they are supervised by one of the support people.
  • If the labouring woman needs to go to the operating theatre, one support person only will be able to attend and support her while in the theatre and recovery area.
  • With the labouring woman’s consent, support people may be included in discussions about care..

What is a doula?

Doulas are non-medical birth assistants who provide physical comfort, emotional support, information and advocacy in labour and the early postnatal period. In preparation for a doula’s attendance during labour, it is essential that a woman will have previously discussed this with her primary caregiver (a midwife or obstetrician) and specified the level of support that the doula will provide. The doula’s role complements the work of Mater midwives and obstetricians. Their support and advocacy does not include midwifery or medical care, tasks, advice, or examinations. 

At Mater Mothers’ Hospitals doulas can:

  • provide emotional support during the hospital admission.
  • provide active labour support by providing non-pharmological pain relief and coping strategies.
  • offer encouragement to the labouring woman and her family.
  • provide advocacy and support for the woman’s birth choices, in partnership with the woman, her partner and family.

Respect and cooperation

All staff treat will treat doulas and support people with respect, and work together to provide a positive and safe birthing environment. They will:

  • share information (with the woman’s permission)
  • answer questions and queries with respect
  • provide all clinical assessments and care to each labouring woman and do not require or expect assistance with this. 

Safety and security is our priority

Safety and security is our priority in the delivery of care at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.

  • Doulas and support people will follow Mater staff advice and direction, particularly in an emergency situation
  • Any person behaving in a way that is a direct threat to the wellbeing of another can be asked to leave.


Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-430195
Last modified 08/5/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 30/4/2020
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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