Advice on suggestions for physical, emotional and advocacy birthing support during labour, whether with your partner, chosen birth partner or doula.
Having good support in labour can make a tremendous difference to the labour itself and how you feel about your experiences afterwards. For many of you the obvious person to provide this support will be your partner.
The birth of a baby is a truly wonderful thing. It is great for Dad's to be able to share in this moment but it may not be right for you. Support can come from someone in your family, friends or perhaps even a woman trained to give support in labour, known as a doula. Your midwife, and possibly student midwife, will also be there to give you support but they may not be able to stay with you all of the time so it is wise to have someone else as well.
If you have your baby in hospital or in a midwife or GP unit they will probably have a policy which limits the amount of support people you can have. It is worth checking this out.
Whoever you decide is to be with you in labour should have an understanding of the labour process and be aware of your views on the choices available. It is good if you can take your birth partner along to parent craft classes with you. If this is not possible it is a good idea to talk things through.
Your birth partner, or partners can provide support in the following ways:
- Physical support - they can help keep you comfortable, bring your drinks and snacks, and help you to move around.
- Emotional support - simply having someone there for you is really important. Reassurance and words of encouragement will also help.
- Advocacy - you may not feel like answering questions so having someone there to explain your views can be really helpful.
If your birth partner, or partners have some knowledge of labour they may also be able to talk you through what is happening, perhaps remind you what you have learned in parent classes.
Research has looked at the effect of having a continuous presence of a support person, who has been given some basic information on how to support women in labour. It found that women with continuous support needed fewer painkillers and had more chance of having a normal delivery. They also found that women were more positive about their labour experience, found it easier to adjust to motherhood and were less likely to suffer from postnatal depression. It does seem that support can make a tremendous difference.