Birth Partners - Preparing For Birth Manual
Today it is commonly assumed that a woman’s partner will take on the role of her birth partner. However this is a relatively modern expectation which only dates back to the 1970s/80s. And in many ways this assumption is something to be celebrated! But we should also acknowledge that for some women, and their partners, this may not be what they want.
For many reasons, a woman’s partner may not be the best, or most equipped person to support her during birth. A nervous, stressed or ill prepared birth partner may not allow a birthing woman to fully focus on listening and working with her body and her baby. Indeed, this sort of additional stress can in fact slow a woman’s labour, by affecting her oxytocin levels. A birthing woman needs to know her birth partner is there for her; strong, present and able to hold a safe space for her to let go fully and give birth.
So it’s important for all birth partners present to remain calm and collected and be in full support of the birthing mother, even if she goes off “plan” and changes her mind about anything on the Birth Wishes list. It is her body and her decision, and birth partners need to be able to hold that space openly and with a compassionate and kind heart - fully supporting her in those moments where she may change her mind about what she would rather have happen.
In preparing for birth, a couple should discuss the role of a birth partner, and ensure everyone understands the expectations. Some couples may decide together that a friend or family member may be better suited to this role - and that’s okay. Better to discuss this before hand!
You may also want to consider hiring a doula to have an extra pair of hands and provide that additional emotional support and consistency. Statistics show having a doula onboard reduces the need for medical intervention by 60% and it is now the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that doulas attend all births worldwide.