Why choose a birth partner?
A birth partner is your eyes, ears and mouth during labour. Because they know you and your birth plan you can relax knowing that, wherever possible, your wishes will be followed.
Having a birth partner encouraging you can really help during childbirth. Studies have found mums who are less stressed are less likely to need a caesarean section or epidural so having a birth partner there for you is really a very good idea.
What to consider when choosing a birth partner
Your birth partner should be someone you trust who has the strength to help you through the demands of labour. They’ll need to cope with seeing you in pain – so some understanding of what to expect is good for them too.
Also, make sure they understand your birth plan and have the confidence to help you make different decisions if things don’t quite go to plan.
Being thick-skinned is a bonus too, because who knows what you might shout during labour! It’s also crucial that your birth partner can drop everything to be at your side for as long as you need them.
In most cases, mums-to-be choose the father of the child as their birth partner. But if that isn’t possible, you may need to turn to a close friend or relative who ideally has been through labour themselves.
Ever thought of a doula?
If you can’t think of anyone suitable, don’t panic, a ‘doula’ could be the answer. A doula is a woman trained and experienced in supporting mum in childbirth who you pay to be a birth partner and help postnatally too.
Preparing your birth partner for the birth
Because it’s such a big responsibility, it’s a good idea for your birth partner to be as prepared as you are for delivery day. Here are a few things they could do:
• Make sure your birth partner knows where to find your hospital bag.
• Attend antenatal classes with you.
• Be totally familiar with your birth plan.
• Learn how to use your TENS machine if you intend to use one during labour.
• Knowing how to massage your lower back would be a bonus too!