Here are some great tips for how your birth partner can help you.
Sometimes, you're too busy with the actual business of giving birth to be able to communicate your wishes to the medical team. Make sure your birth partner is familiar with your birth preferences so they can speak up if you’re otherwise engaged.
There's quite a lot of kit in a delivery room, so whether it's the gas and air or the birthing ball make sure your partner knows how these things are used so they can help you with them. It's especially useful if they can have the gas and air tube ready and hold it for you just before each contraction.
It's helpful if your birth partner knows your likes and dislikes when it comes to food and drink, so for example, you don't get given weak tea with sugar when you like it strong without. Have snacks and drinks in your labour bag for your birth partner to give you if you want to eat or drink during labour.
Things can move fast during your baby’s birth, so make sure your birth partner is fully briefed on the mechanics of labour and birth. If options are suddenly needed, such as an assisted delivery, an episiotomy or a Caesarean, they should know what all these terms mean – and what your feelings on them are too.
A back rub, a foot massage or a head massage can all help take the edge off contractions. Get your birth partner to practice a few massage techniques while you are pregnant so they can use them during labour if you feel it will give you some relief.
From helping with breathing techniques to calming you if you get a little panicky, your birth partner is there to provide emotional as well as practical support. Make sure they know the best way to calm you and what works to relax you.
OK, there's a time and a place and it's probably best not to start a stand-up routine just as your baby is crowning. But keeping you amused and entertained during labour is a great gift. Make sure your birth partner has books and magazines for you to read or have them bring a tablet or laptop – and don't forget the charger!
Discuss beforehand how much of the birth you feel comfortable sharing. Once you have agreed the ground rules, your birth partner can document the labour and birth with photos or video. Even if only you two ever see them, it's a wonderful moment to look back on.
Cutting the cord is something you might like your birth partner to do. You may also want them to be the first person to hold your newborn. These are great moments.
Once your baby has been born, your birth partner can be the one to phone close family and friends to tell them the happy news.
If for some reason you have to stay in hospital for a few days, your birth partner may need to go back home to get some essentials for you. Make sure they know where to find the things you are likely to want. They may also need to dash out for forgotten items or more clothes if your baby is bigger or smaller than expected.
Take a look here to find out what else your birth partner can do for you...