Midwifery one-to-one support in labour: More than a ratio

Georgina A. Sosa, Kenda E. Crozier, Andrea Stockl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: To explore midwifery one-to-one support in labour in a real world context of midwife-led birth environments.

Design: Ethnographic study. Data was collected from 30 observations inside and outside the birth environments in three different birth settings. Semi-structured interviews were completed following the births with 29 low-risk women and 30 midwives with at least one year labour support experience to gain their perspectives. Twenty-seven maternity records were also analysed.

Setting: An alongside midwife-led unit, freestanding midwife-led unit and women's homes in England.

Findings: Six components of care were identified that required balance inside midwife-led birth environments: (1) presence, (2) midwife-woman relationships, (3) coping strategies, (4) labour progress, (5) birthing partners and (6) midwifery support. Midwives used their knowledge, experience and intuitive skills to synchronise their care for the six components to work in balance. Balancing of the six components have been translated into continuums representing the labour care and requirements.

Conclusion and implications for practice: Midwifery one-to-one support in labour is more than a ratio when translated into clinical practice. When the balance of the six components were tuned into the needs of women, women were satisfied with their labour and birth experience, even when it did not go to plan. A one midwife to one woman ratio should be available for all women in labour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-239
Number of pages10
Early online date22 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • One-to-one
  • 1:1
  • Midwifery
  • Labour support
  • Continuous support
  • Ethnographic

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