What makes a good birth partner?

Have you thought about who your birth partner will be? For some mums this will be an easy decision, perhaps the baby's father or your own mum. But for others it can be a difficult choice and one which needs some thought. So here are some of the things you might like to consider when choosing a birth partner.

Firstly you need to choose someone who will be available on the day, and be with you throughout your entire labour. If your first choice is unable to guarantee being present, then it would be wise to have a back up.

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You need someone who will support your wishes. You should spend time during your pregnancy informing yourself of your options and making informed decisions. Depending on who you choose for your birth partner, they will either be part of the decision making process, or you will explain your choices and they will do everything they can to ensure your choices are listened to and respected on the day.

They need to be someone that can make you feel safe and protected, as those are the conditions that will help your body to perform best during labour. Any fear or anxiety can interfere with the important cocktail of hormones that your body will release that enable you to cope with the sensations you will feel.

At some point towards the end of your labour (this part is usually called transition), you will suddenly be filled with self doubt. I have heard of women getting up and saying they are going home because they "can't do it anymore", when actually they are almost at the end! It is a perfectly normal stage to go through but you need someone by your side who will be positive and remind you of how strong you are, someone who will say "you've got this". Now is not the time to have a worrier or panicker by your side!

Some women really appreciate having a partner who can offer really practical comfort such as massage, helping them into different birth positions, keeping them hydrated and protecting your birth space. I personally couldn't have made it through without my amazing husband John doing sacral back massage through each contraction for the final couple of hours!

Lastly, you need someone who will stay calm and focused on you. You will be able to produce more oxytocin (the most important of all your birth hormones) if you are surrounded by people who support and love you

So as you can see, it's not just about timing contractions and knowing the route to the hospital! The birth partner is an extremely important role and one which needs to be taken seriously.

Hopefully you will have someone close to you, either a family member or a friend, that you trust to be a great birth partner (if not, perhaps you will consider a doula).

If you have the perfect person but they just have no knowledge about birth then fear not, I teach birth partners everything they need to know to be effective and supportive :)