How to choose your birth partner

Usually the person in the labour room with you is your partner, but it can be a friend or even your mum if you want

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Your fella is the obvious choice as your birth partner – after all, he got you into this in the first place! Most dads-to-be are keen to be involved, though many don’t know quite what to expect and worry that they won’t be up to the task. However, if you both attend antenatal classes and read up on the subject together beforehand (just let him share this magazine with you for a start!), he’ll be much more confident about providing the support you need.

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Time to share

Your birth partner should fully understand your birth preferences, so it helps if you write a birth plan together.
Also, your needs may change throughout, so birth partners need to be intuitive and responsive. For example, some women prefer their partner to be quiet so they can centre themselves, while others want to be distracted during contractions – a good birth partner will be able to read
the situation!

It’s a girl thing

A recent study found that mums-to-be with a female birth partner were 60 per cent less likely to ask for an epidural, half as likely to have a Caesarean and had a labour time reduced by a quarter when compared with those mums with male partners present. So choosing a woman as your birth partner can really be beneficial. And don’t forget, you can often have more than one birth partner, so why not choose a woman you trust to support you on the day as well as your man?

Your mum

She’s the one who soothed away the pain when you were a child, so she’s experienced in offering comfort. She’s also been through it all herself, so she should be knowledgeable and supportive.

Your sister

She probably knows you best, so you can be yourself and not feel self-conscious when in the throes of labour.

Your best friend

Women are often more intuitive birth partners than men, even if they haven’t
given birth themselves. They tend to offer instinctive and unintrusive support – which is just what you’ll need.

A doula

A doula is a professional, experienced birth partner (probably with children of her own) who you pay to work with you during pregnancy and birth, or just during labour if that’s what you want.
Charges for a birth-only package range from around £300 to £600. For more information visit www.doula.org.uk.

Mum’s story

“My husband is best at keeping me calm”

“My husband, Mark, was the only one I would ever have wanted at the birth. We just know each other so well I was confident he could gauge how it was all going and help to calm me down before I got too upset or hysterical. That said, he did keep saying he was hungry all the way through Cameron’s birth!”
Laura, 33, mum to Cameron, 6 months

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Dad’s story

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world”

“During the contractions I was at the head end, holding my wife Karen’s hand, encouraging her to keep going. She was understandably tired, but I kept telling her what a great job she was doing. When it was time to push I was at the other end. As our baby was premature the waters began coming out like a balloon, then burst all over me and one of the nurses. After 12 minutes of pushing, our baby Tilly came out and was taken off to be put under a heater and I went to have a look. As soon as I saw her I started crying – it was the happiest and most emotional moment of my life. I wouldn’t change one thing if I had to do it all again!”
James, 41, dad to Sara, 12 months

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