There is scientific evidence that continuous labor support improves your birth experience and can be done by almost anyone who will take the time to learn a few techniques and practice them with you.
It is important that the person you choose for labor support is someone you communicate well with, love, and will support your decisions in labor rather than their own.
They should be with you from the time you are in active labor until the birth of your baby. Their very important job includes encouraging you, rubbing your back or providing effleurage, getting your oral nutrition, fending off friends and family if you do not want them in the room, and anything else that helps make you comfortable during labor.
They can rearrange your focal point, help move birthing balls, walk in the room or hallways with you, or just sit and breathe with you. They probably have attended childbirth classes with you too. This is not someone who will be unable to stay calm, or someone who will likely be watching TV while you are hard at work. They are there to be your “continuous support” and you will be so thankful afterwards that they were there for you!
If you do not have someone who you think can fill this role, or if you want more than one person for this job you might consider hiring a doula. I have worked with some wonderful certified doulas who spend time with you during the pregnancy, and then are there with you through labor, birth, and beyond.
Doulas of North America (DONA) is a national organization for doulas and if you are interested in learning more about what they do or finding one, you can go to their website at www.dona.org. I highly recommend that you interview several before deciding as you will probably really click with one of them.