To assess qualitatively the attitudes of Russian women toward the presence of a support person during labor.
Pregnant and postpartum women were surveyed at the Omsk County Maternity and Delivery Hospital, Omsk, Russia. Demographic information was obtained, and each woman was asked about her opinions regarding the presence of a companion during labor.
Of the 70 women interviewed, 68.6% declined to have a partner present during labor. The most common reasons were that they: felt afraid for their husband (15.7%); felt personally embarrassed (17.1%); wanted to have a private experience (22.9%); and thought it would adversely affect their sex life (8.6%). Only 17.1% of the women agreed and were able to have a companion present during labor. In total, 31.4% of women were unable to have a companion present, for the following reasons: family matters; husband declined; husband did not undergo necessary laboratory tests; or spontaneous labor.
Many Russian women viewed childbirth as a medical process that should not involve social interaction. It is important for physicians to understand that there is a wide range of cultural differences in childbirth practice.