Birthing women require support, particularly emotional support, during the process of labour and delivery. Traditionally, across cultures, this support was made available by the continuous presence of a companion during labour, childbirth and the immediate post-partum period. However, this practice is not universal, especially in health facilities in low- and middle-income countries. This cross-sectional study was conducted in 18 tertiary health care facilities of India using a mixed-method approach. The quantitative data were collected to document the number of birthing women, birth companions and healthcare providers in the labour rooms, and the typology of disrespect and abuse (D&A) faced by women. This was followed by in-depth interviews with 55 providers to understand their perspective on the various dimensions of D&A and the challenges they face to provide respectful care. This article explores the status of birth companionship in India and its plausible associations with D&A faced by birthing women in public facilities. Our study reveals that birth companionship is still not a common practice in Indian public hospitals. Birth companions were present during less than half of the observational period, also less than half of the birthing women were accompanied by a birth companion. Lack of hospital policy, space constraints, overcrowding and privacy concerns for other patients were cited as reasons for not allowing birth companions in the labour rooms, whose supportive roles, both for women and providers, were otherwise widely acknowledged during the qualitative interviews. Also, the presence of birth companions was found to be critically negatively associated with occurrences of D&A of birthing women. We contend that owing to the high pressure on the public hospitals in India, birth companions can be a low-cost intervention model for promoting respectful maternity care. However, adequate infrastructure is a critical aspect to be taken care of.