Whether you’re related to the baby being born, or are a sister, mother or a friend, being a birth partner is a great honour. There are a few things to think about before the big day arrives, so getting prepared is the best way to be able to support someone who is about to give birth.
Whatever birth setting your partner is planning to give birth, the most important thing is to know exactly what she wants. Whether that’s to accept pain relief, birth in water or to have a caesarean, knowing her birth plan is key.
Some new mothers like to plan for every eventuality, whereas others are more relaxed about what they want. Whatever her style, it’s a good idea to work through everything together and be prepared for things not to go exactly as expected or planned. Writing the birthing plan is a good way to be clear on what is important to you both as you welcome the new baby into your lives.
Looking after yourself is a key part of being there the whole way through. Sometimes labour can take a long time, so being prepared is key. Wherever the mother has planned to give birth, having a bag of essential items for yourself is important. Think carefully about what would make you comfortable and happy, as well as give you energy throughout the whole labour. You might want a few of your favourite snacks and drinks and a change of clothes, perhaps some favourite music and some headphones to help you stay calm and focused.
If your partner is interested in hypnobirthing, that can be a great way of learning what labour and birth will be like. If you can attend antenatal classes together that will help you understand the different scenarios that might happen and what you will need to do during labour. Learning and practising breathing together can be a lovely way to bond and feel calm about the upcoming birth.
If you know your partner’s birth plan well, you will be prepared to speak for them at the times when she can’t. There might be times when you will need to advocate on her behalf and even help explain things in a way you know she will understand. If a midwife or doctor suggests an intervention that you’re not sure is in line with her plans, you can speak up and open a discussion.
Look at our birth plan section for more information.