Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Craig Speelman

Second Advisor

Sara Bayes


Childbirth is a life changing experience for women, yet most women feel anxious with regard to this event. Research has shown that support from family or friends can help to reduce anxiety intrapartum, however, the standard procedure at most maternity centres in Indonesia is to not allow any person in the birthing room except midwives.

This study investigated the impact of the presence of a support person on the anxiety of women giving birth in Surabaya, Indonesia. The originality of this study is in trying to understand the whole picture about support during labour and childbirth by listening to women, their support persons, and midwives who care for them during this episode. Most studies have looked at perceptions only, however, it is important to hear from caregivers as well in order to understand the phenomenon fully. The findings provide the basis of recommendations about for Indonesian maternity care, particularly those within the Javanese culture.

A qualitative approach, specifically narrative inquiry, was used to answer the following research questions: How do childbearing women birthing in an Indonesian (Surabaya) maternity centre interpret the presence of a known, trusted support person and experience their impact on their birth-related anxiety? How do support persons experience their role during labour and childbirth? How do midwives experience the support during labour and childbirth? Twenty-one women, their support persons, and midwives who provide intrapartum care participated in this study. Data were collected from March to December 2016.

The major finding of this study was that the key factor in whether women felt supported or not during labour and childbirth depended on how well prepared, their support persons was. Well prepared, emotionally support persons were perceived as trustworthy by the women. When supported by this type of support person, the participant women had positive experiences of labour and childbirth. In contrast, unengaged support persons who were perceived as not trustworthy by the women. As a consequence of having this type of support person with them intrapartum, the women had a negative experience of labour and childbirth. Therefore, this study recommends preparation classes for potential support persons so they can provide effective support for women during labour and childbirth. This study has the potential to contribute to improvements in maternity care services for childbearing women, support persons, and midwives in Indonesia, particularly those within the Javanese culture, and other countries with a similar birthing culture.