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Choosing a Birthing Partner

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 12 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
Birthing Partner Birth Partner Labour

Giving birth is a major event and all pregnant women are encouraged to have a birthing partner to help support them through it. But when it comes down to choosing a birthing partner, who should you opt for?

Birthing partners play an important role during the birth, helping women to get through physically and emotionally. They’re there to offer praise and encouragement, reassurance when things get difficult and provide comfort if you need it. If your labour is slow to progress, and there’s a lot of waiting around, they’ll be at your side when midwives are off dealing with other people.

A good birthing partner will be at hand to support you through the pain and discomfort, helping you to remember your breathing and relaxation techniques, and helping ease discomfort with massage, if you need it.

They’ll also be a good source of information and can help keep you fully aware of what’s going on. For example, they can focus on what the midwives are saying, even when your mind is far away, and can make sure you understand if medical procedures, such as episiotomy or caesarean section are being discussed.

Put simply, a birthing partner plays a vital role and having someone really supportive with you, who fully cares about your needs, can make a real difference to your birth experience.

Tips for Choosing a Birthing Partner

Some people naturally assume that their birthing partner has to be their husband, boyfriend or partner, but that’s not necessarily the case. Although of course a popular choice for many people, if you know your husband or partner is a bit squeamish, not good in hospitals, might not be around when you go into labour or doesn’t know a thing about childbirth, then it’s perhaps worth thinking about alternative options.

Many people choose a good friend, their mum, sister or even a doula to accompany them as a birthing partner. Sometimes the choice of someone else who’s already been through pregnancy and birth themselves offers more reassurance, or it could be because you’re on your own or think they could provide better support overall.

If you’re not sure who to choose, or are torn between who to choose, then it is worth bearing in mind that many hospitals do allow two birthing partners to be present. If you’re having a home birth, then you can easily have the option of a couple of people being present at the birth with you.

Having two people is almost like the best of both worlds. One might be great for helping you deal with the pain and physical discomfort, and the other great for emotional support. Experiencing labour for the first time can be exhausting for a birthing partner, especially if it goes on for hours on end, so having two partners will help share the load and make it easier for each one to have rest or breaks if they’re tired and in need of a cup of tea.

If you’re thinking of having two people, then do add it to your birth plan and double check with your midwife or hospital that it is fine with them to have two birthing partners in the delivery room.

Whoever you choose as a birthing partner, remember that they can learn lots of useful tips to help you through labour by attending antenatal classes with you.

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