Birth Partner

As a future parent or companion for a birth, it should be established early what the woman expects from you during her labour and what she imagines your role to be.

As a companion you must be prepared that she may well react differently than expected. For example, she may suddenly become dismissive and withdrawn while concentrating on a contraction.

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You must be prepared to help her find her “relaxing place”. Help her find peace of mind, tranquillity and a feeling of confidence. You must also remain calm, confident and reassuring even if things aren’t going quite to plan; emotional support is more important for the woman than anything else.

You must be agreed in every detail regarding how she would like the birth to proceed. Most often, things do not go exactly as planned, so you should also have sat down with each other to discuss the alternatives. It is important to be ready to change plans quickly if necessary and preparation is the key to this.

In addition, there are some practical activities you can help with. Many women need help to relax and support with their breathing technique. It can also be helpful, and for some pain relieving, to be massaged on the lower back or thighs, although be aware that a woman who may usually enjoy this, may not be able to bear to be touched when it comes to labour. You may also be needed to help her find a comfortable position to rest in between contractions. Many birthing women also think it is helpful to get a damp cloth to wipe her face with. Many would like to smear their lips with cream or lip balm or eat ice chips.

It is the birthing partner’s role to make sure that all of this happens at the woman’s own pace and according to her temperament. Many birthing partners talk about how their partner’s emotions swung up and down during labour; they also talk about how they felt anxiety and concern about it all going well. One thing they all say is it was a great experience!

Communication between the birthing woman and the birth partner may be very different than expected. Many birth partners are left surprised by the fact that towards the end of the labour, the labouring woman may almost ignore their birth partner. This is caused by the large amounts of concentration required for each contraction.

The birth partner’s role is incredibly important and most of those who have done it will agree that it was also one of the most amazing experiences of their lives.

Did you have a birth partner? Did your birth partner keep you focused and on track with your birth plan? What advice would you give someone considering a birth partner?