I had the honour of witnessing a beautifully undisturbed birth recently.
Labour was long and at times exhausting - though the strength found by this amazing woman was awe-inspiring as she roared her way through the night.
And there by her side, reassuring her, comforting her, holding her physically and emotionally was her partner.
Sometimes labour is swift and intense - I’ve seen that recently too, calling a dad away from filling a birth pool to catch his baby instead - and sometimes events unfold gradually, intensifying, strengthening minute by minute, hour by hour.
Either way, the role of the birth partner is huge. So huge in fact that many women and birthing people choose to bring others into the birth room: an experienced best friend or sister, their own mum, a professional doula. These extra team members are able to share the load and add to the support in various ways.
A doula will spend time with you and your birth partner, if you have one, and can be a great source of information and reassurance to nervous partners: exploring your wishes for your birth and making plans together. Sometimes a doula will be the main source of support, for a variety of reasons. Or we can encourage your partner to be there with you, reassuring them that all is well and suggesting ways they can help you.
When I posted the above on my Instagram page, my wonderful client added this comment:
“It is so important who we are inviting into our birthing space… the choice of birth partner is crucial as it impacts how the birthing woman feels about herself at that particular moment and it can bolster or undermine her confidence. The birth partner brings to that space not only their presence but their energy, emotions or beliefs so I would make sure birth partner is educated on physiological birth and is on the same page so can support and advocate for the birthing woman.”
I couldn’t agree more! When considering whether to have an extra family member or friend, it’s important to know that they are going to bring the right energy to the room: will they bring confidence, understanding and joy? Or will they be concerned about you and cause you to modify your instinctive behaviour? Now is not the time to worry about offending others by gently suggesting that they leave you to labour in your own way, with the people you want to have around you. You are central to this event - your choices are all that matters.
If you’re thinking of hiring a doula, meet up with them and spend a little time in their company - how do they make you feel? Are they warm, calm and reassuring? The connection you feel between you is at least as important as the other questions you might want to ask about experience, availability and training. And having the right person or people supporting you throughout pregnancy and during your labour will make all the difference to how you feel once you have your baby in your arms.