advice

it takes two:
the benefits of choosing a birthing partner

You’re not just getting a helping hand and moral support: your partner is also sharing one of the most amazing experiences of your life. No wonder most mums-to-be want a partner present at the birth. Remember your birth partner can be your partner, your mum, a close friend basically someone you trust and will help you cope with labour and birth. Sometimes a women shares this responsibility between her partner and her mother. So how can they help?

mum-to-be with her birthing partner

how a birthing partner can help

The role of a birthing partner may start before you even arrive at the hospital, as they may need to help you pack your bag for the birth and drive or accompany you on your way there. As well as keeping you company in the early stages and helping you to pass the time, once labour begins, they can help by massaging your shoulders and back, or helping you go to the toilet. As labour progresses and your contractions start to get stronger, they can comfort you and remind you of important relaxation techniques.

an important supporting role

Being right there at the start helps many partners feel closer to your child: lots of them say it was one of the most moving moments of their lives. Your birth partner may even be able to cut the umbilical cord – if they’d like to do this, speak with your midwife. But their main role is to be right by the side of the new mum, offering emotional support.

tips for birthing partners

For some partners, it can be hard to see the mum-to-be in pain, but attending antenatal classes can help to give them a good idea of what to expect. Partners may want to help the discomfort by offering a damp flannel or sponge, or by helping with breathing exercises. If the couple have made a birth plan together for how they would like the birth to progress, the partner can help ensure that it is followed as much as possible.

following the birth plan

You won’t really know how the birth will go until your labour has started, but you may have a plan in mind. Discuss the things you’d ideally like to happen with your birthing partner, so that they can support you with any decisions you might have to make. Some women may change their minds about how they are going to give birth, for example, choosing to have an epidural instead of going for a birth without pain relief. Your midwife will always be on hand to guide you through these choices.

what about a caesarean section?

When your baby is being delivered by caesarean section, your partner can still be next to you to attend to, reassure and comfort you, particularly if you’re having an epidural anaesthetic. If you are having a Caesarean under general anaesthetic, your partner may not be allowed to be present in the delivery room, but will be allowed to see you before you go.