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A Royal Birth – Prince William in the delivery room

photo courtesy: Steve Rhodes via flickr

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine (Kate) Middelton, the Duchess of Cambridge, had a baby boy earlier this week – George Alexander Louis. You heard it here first, folks!

Much like his father before him, Prince William was in the delivery room with Kate for the birth of their child.

But while Princes William and Prince Charles joined their wives in the delivery room, that hasn’t always been the case within the royal family. When Prince Charles was born, his father, Prince Philip, was not in the delivery room with Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth).

Interestingly, this not-in-the-delivery-room trend was not just for royals. Decades ago, few women had a spouse in the room with them during delivery. (Think, cigars and scotch in the waiting room for the men while the women did most of the heavy lifting, er, pushing.)

So just how did this trend shift?

According to Carrie Ann Terrell, M.D., director of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School and director of the Women’s Health Specialists Clinic, these days most women have one or more support people in the labor and delivery room with her.

“Since I started my career in 1999, family has always had a strong presence in the delivery room,” said Terrell.

Terrell went on to stress that the definition of family has come a long way from “father” in the room. While the genetic father may be the primary support person in a woman’s life there are many scenarios wherein that is not the case: women having children independent of men (sperm donor or genetic father not involved), lesbian couples, rape survivors, etc.

“However, having support in labor is undoubtedly beneficial,” said Terrell. “Women may choose to have their partner, family members, and or friends with them in the labor and delivery room.”

Yet not all women have family or friends in the room. Possible obstacles such as religious, cultural or economic barriers leave some women without the support of family or friends. Other women simply choose not to have family or friends in the delivery room.

In some of these scenarios, a doula may be an option.

“Doulas provide professional labor support,” said Terrell. “They are credentialed and certified with specific birth knowledge. Some women use doulas with family support or alone.”

Unlike physicians, midwives, and obstetrical nurses who provide medical care, a doula provides support in the nonmedical aspects of labor and delivery.

As Katy Backes Kozhimannil, Ph.D., assistant professor within the School of Public Health’s Division of Health Policy and Management wrote, a 2012 Cochrane review conclusively found that continuous labor support is associated with a number of positive outcomes for moms and babies and cites no known adverse effects.

It’s safe to say – be it a family member, friend, or doula – support in the delivery room is a good thing.

Luckily for William, Kate and baby George, the royal tradition of a government official in the room to ensure the baby’s legitimacy as heir has long since died down, and they too were allowed a “normal” birthing experience.

Check out more about doula support here.

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