How to choose the perfect birth partner
'Generally speaking there is no shortage of volunteers lining up to get front row seats at the birth of a baby,' says Doula and birth support expert Lisa Sykes. 'What could be more exciting than actually having a staring role in your very own episode of One Born Every Minute or Call The Midwife?
'Partners are either dead set on being there, sleeves rolled up ready to try out their newly acquired hypnobirthing skills or secretly hoping to be abducted by aliens around the time your waters break.
At some point in your pregnancy your mind will turn to the birth and who you will and wont want there....here is some food for thought around birth partners....
The baby's father
So dad is the obvious first port of call. Talking to the father of your baby honestly about how he feels about supporting you at the birth is really important. There's a lot of pressure on partners to be in the birthing room and while the majority wouldn't miss it for all the raspberry leaf tea in China, others will be breaking out in cold sweats at the thought alone. And having a nervous wreck in the room with you when you need to remain calm is not going to focus your breathing. Taking a partners class together will give them ideas of how you can work together and having an additional birth partner who is there for you both is worth considering.
There's no doubt that some women will instinctively feel they want their own mother, sister or other female family member with them during labour. After all women have been supporting each other in labour since time began and there's something reassuring about having someone there who knows how you tick.
More open and frank conversations are needed and the first one should probably be with your partner. He may feel this is a moment that should just be about you two....after all she wasn't around for the start of the process....or the extra support could be exactly what gives him the confidence to be with you.
The second conversation should be with the female relation you ask to support you.
Does her philosophy on birth align with yours?
If it doesn't does she feel able to support you in YOUR choices without steering you towards hers?
The last thing you need after the intense journey of birth is over is to feel any resentment towards someone for taking you down a path you hoped not to travel.
More women are turning to the idea of hiring a trained birth partner. The constraints of the health system means you're unlikely to have a known midwife with you in labour. Add to that shift changes and caring for multiple women at once and the idea of a doula quickly becomes an attractive one. But aren't they just for home births or rich people who knit their own muesli? Apparently not and the evidence that their mere presence can reduce the length of time you're in labour and improve your chances of not needing interventions like forceps and c sections is compelling. Doulas cost from absolutely nothing to hundreds of pounds depending on where you live and the additional services she offers but as someone unflappable and who is solely there for you and your partner, families who have hired a doula often say they're cheap at twice the price.
Friends are another common choice of birth partner. As with female relations their own experiences of birth, both positive and negative will impact on the way they can support you on the big day. Get them on board with your preparation by giving them any books or CDs you're planning on using so they know the lingo and talk to them about how they feel about your preferences so things run more smoothly in the delivery room.
Who ever you decide to invite to support you will be sharing one of the most emotionally charged and intimate moments of your life. One of the most important things any birth partner needs to know before stepping in to a room with a labouring woman is how their behaviour can have a massive impact on the way birth pans out. Like most things with women, birth is a hormone driven process and what makes birth work is a calm environment. Anxious, panicky people are the last thing a birthing woman needs in her space so when deciding who you want with you, ensure they feel confident, calm and prepared....and if they can only remember one thing make it this....do NOT talk to her during a contraction....ever.