The role of the birth partner includes many different ‘hats’. But it could be as simple as being there… The key is the partner’s presence. Being there in the moment, being the guardian of oxytocin, the birth keeper, the advocate. Your role will be led by the birthing mother/person who you are supporting.
Who can be a birth partner?
A birth partner could be the father or other parent of the baby, the pregnant woman’s/person’s partner, a friend, a family member or a professional birth partner such as a doula.
What does the birth partner’s role include?
During the birth, the role of the birth partner may include:
- offering massages
- reading hypnobirthing scripts
- advocating for the birthing mother/person
- reminding to go to the loo
- keeping the birthing woman/person hydrated and engergized
- supporting words and touch
- protecting the birthing space
Here is a great example of a birth partner advocating for the birthing woman’s options:
How can I prepare for the role of the birth partner?
- Have a discussion with the pregnant mother/person about their wishes and birth preferences.
- Plan the route to hospital/birth centre and which entrance to use at different times of the day or night – although google maps timings are pretty accurate
- Know where the birth bag is
- Familiarise yourself with the contents of the birth bag aka hospital bag, maybe get involved in packing it, so that you can find things quickly if you need them
- Think about ideas how to time contractions without a watch/clock – watching the clock may create unwanted tension in the mother’s/birthing persons’ mind and body. Be creative!
- I’ve seen families watching a series with approx. 30 minute-length episodes and they’d count how many contractions they had in 30/60 minutes.
- Others had a 30/60 minute playlist and would count the number of contraction waves they had during that time.
- You may need to speak to the health care professionals during the birth, if the person you are supporting cannot. Knowing the birth plan/birth preferences and being able to communicate wishes and symptoms clearly is beneficial
- Look after your own needs, too. You can only support others when you are well and comfortable. The birth may take quite some time, so bring spare clothes and refreshments for yourself, too.
- Bring a charger for your phone so that you are able to contact your family and friends when you need to (if that is what you have decided/agreed to do).
- Most vending machines and car parks accept contactless payments now or you can pay by phone. You may not need loose change, but you may wish to check with your local hospital/chosen birth place.
- Join the pregnant mother/person for their antenatal appointments and childbirth classes
- I also offer live virtual birth partner workshops, where we look at different practical support options and practice movement, massage and breathing techniques. A workshop for you both to attend, to work together as a family/team.
- Do your research about options, procedures and birth.