Your labour support team

Who will you choose to be with you on your big day? Your partner, your mother or a best friend? We help you make the best decision for you

by Sally J Hall

Your medical team

Here’s the team looking after your medical care:

Obstetrician

In charge of your care during pregnancy and birth, they lead the team caring for you and your baby. You’ll see them a couple of times during pregnancy and they get involved if you have a complication in pregnancy, during the birth, or if you choose a Consultant-led birth. They may be a good choice if you have had complications during your pregnancy or a previous complicated birth.

Midwife

A nurse with additional training in the care of mothers and their babies, they attend uncomplicated deliveries and are with you from the early contractions until after the birth; they also see you during pregnancy and are a mine of information on everything from healthy eating, pregnancy health, morning sickness and ways to ease contraction pains through to the early moments bonding with your baby, breastfeeding and baby care.

Anaesthetist

This doctor specialises in pain control during labour and birth, with everything from gas and air through to an epidural. Read more about your pain control choices in labour here.

Who will be my best birth partner?

My partner

Most women take their partner into the delivery room and this makes perfect sense – you have created this baby together and they been there at every step of your pregnancy, so seeing the birth of your child is an amazing moment to share.

However, bear in mind that one or both of you may be uncomfortable with this – your partner may be squeamish or hate the thought of seeing you at such a painful moment. If this is the case, or if your partner is away for some reason, who else might you choose?

Your mother

She has, after all, given birth to you and knows how the female body works. If you have a great relationship, she may be the perfect choice.

Your best friend

A good idea if you have a close friend who has had at least one baby and knows the ropes. She may be able to be less involved emotionally than your partner or mother.

A Doula

This is a woman employed to support you and your family during labour and birth. Some specialise in pregnancy, others in the postnatal period. They are not medically trained but are experienced in helping women give birth. They will advocate for you to get the birth you want. Find out more about the role of a Doula here.

Some birth units will allow you to have more than one birth partner; check with your midwife or obstetrician. If you’re having a home birth of course, you can have whoever you like.

“A warm memory I’ll cherish”

Ania Hughes employed a Doula for her second baby and would highly recommend it:

“I was concerned how the logistics would work for my daughter when I went into labour, as I was planning a home birth and wondered – what if she doesn’t want to be there? What if I need to go into hospital? As a couple without family or friends nearby to rely on for a middle-of-the-night dash, we thought about the support of a Doula. It was the best decision for us; the irony is, that on the actual day, my daughter was at school! Having a Doula to support me was the next best thing to family. She was calm and encouraging. Her help during labour and for the first few crucial hours after the birth helped make my baby’s birth a warm memory I will always cherish. Her support in the days afterwards also helped establish breastfeeding that lasted for 14 months.”

The role of a birth partner

Once you’ve written a birth plan, it’s important you talk to your birth partner to establish things you would like them to help you with. They are there for your emotional support but can be given tasks to ensure things go to plan.

They can:

  • Speak for you if you are unable to and support you in your choices
  • Attend classes with you before the birth
  • Know what you want, be familiar with your birth plan and help explain your choices when intervention is offered
  • Be aware of your wishes should you need interventions, pain relief, or a Caesarean section
  • Provide practical assistance such as offering snacks and drinks, relaxation exercises, massage and conversation
  • Be with you after the baby has arrived to bring you what you need and also to offer emotional support
  • Help you to announce the birth of your new baby

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