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How can my partner support me during labour?

A huge part of feeling calm during birth is having the right kind of support available to you. In particular, support that knows and understands exactly what your wants and needs are. Enter, the birth partner a.k.a the expert on you.

It used to be the case that women in the UK saw the same midwife for the duration of their pregnancies and this midwife was usually at the birth too. But staffing and financial pressures on the National Health Service mean that maternity services now operate differently and that continuity of care has been drastically reduced (and even removed in some cases).

Luckily, alongside this change, birth partners have become increasingly present and involved in the birthing process, which has undoubtedly, positively impacted birth. Your partner is the real expert when it comes to you - they will know you better than anyone else in your birth space and as such, can play a really pivotal role when it comes to providing the support you will want and need during labour.

Ideally, not only do they know you really well and understand what you need in order to feel safe, calm and in control, but they have also engaged in Hypnobirthing or another form of birth preparation alongside you so they have an understanding of how to support the physiological process of birth.

A deep understanding of you as their partner as well as the mechanics birth creates pretty powerful insight, which will enable them to provide the most effective kind of practical and emotional support.

In addition to keeping you calm, another key part of the birth partner's role is to ensure that all of the practicalities of birth are taken care of so that you can focus on yourself, without interruption. Below I have provided some of the ways that a birth partner can provide this kind of practical support:

  •  Advocate for you by making your birth team aware of your birth plan or preferences and ensuring that you are well supported with these.

  • Create and protect the birth space in a way that makes you feel safe, undisturbed and unobserved.

  • Be the "go-to" for midwives in order to minimise disturbances and interruption to you during labour.

  • Support labour breathing techniques and birth positions to make birth more comfortable.

  • Provide water/lucosade & snacks to maintain hydration and energy levels.

  • Remind you to go to the loo (this is a top tip based on personal experience!) to make sure that your bladder isn't too full and reduces the room that baby has to move down and out of your body.

  • Assist with comfort measures to make the sensations of labour more manageable.

  • Use encouraging words and positive affirmations to help boost your confidence and maintain a calm atmosphere.

These are a few ideas to get you thinking about what birth might look like if you're working as a team within your couple. It would also be important to be honest about your own expectations and chat with your partner about the ways you would personally like them to support you during labour - there might be things you could add to this list to ensure that you feel even more supported.

My name is Dr Tuesday Watts-Overall, I'm a birth coach and mum of 2 (with another on the way!). Helping couples get ready for birth and life afterwards is my specialty. I use a combination of elevated antenatal education and specialist coaching tools to help parents-to-be head into birth feeling calm, confident and ready to navigate the journey ahead as a team. You can find out more about me and what I offer here.

Check out my recent social media posts related to this topic and join the conversation.

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