For most women, labour is an intense and personal experience, but having a companion, or birth partner can help you reduce your perception of pain during labour, and can help to make you feel more relaxed and supported. The less stressed you feel, the easier your labour will be. Less stress also means less chance of you needing medical assistance such as an epidural or forceps.
Your birth companion can be your partner, your mum or a friend, and nowadays you can also hire a professional birth partner, known as a doula. If you can't or don't want to have your partner as your birth partner, hiring a doula may be a good choice. They are trained to support you the way you need supporting during your pregnancy and labour. Make sure to let your midwife know if your birth companion is going to be anyone other than your partner beforehand as this will save time when you go into hospital.
Your birth companion can be your partner, your mum or a friend, and nowadays you can also hire a professional birth partner, known as a doula.
How can your birth companion help?
In whatever ways you ask them to! You rule this show, and whether you need to be fed ice chips and glucose tablets, have your back rubbed, or swear blue murder whilst you are squeezing the life out of someone’s hand, then that’s what they’ll do. They are there to support and encourage you, and provide reassurance when you need it.
Birth partners can provide more than emotional support however; they can also act as your advocate and provide intervention if you need it. If you sit down with your birth partner before your labour and go through your birth plan, what you want and what you don’t want, they’ll be prepared to intervene on your behalf, and to make sure you know what’s going on and what your options are. You should however make them aware that you are entitled to change your mind during labour, and that what you say goes! It's a good idea to familiarise them with the stages of labour, and if you have a tour of the hospital and delivery suite, take them with you. You may also want to involve them in any classes you go to, and practice your breathing exercises with them.
Whoever your companion is, make sure it’s someone who you communicate with well, someone you are relaxed with, and someone who knows that you might very well end up saying things you don’t actually mean, so make sure they don their hard hat whilst in the delivery suite.
Finally; make sure they remember to take along some change for the coffee and vending machines too!