Pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be an exciting time for the pregnant person, as they gear up to meet their new bundle of joy. However, there is also another key person involved in the journey of birthing a newborn baby – the supporting birth partner.
The birth partner could be a doula, romantic partner, parent, sibling, or friend of the pregnant person. A support person plays an integral role in the whole birth experience. Partners help set the tone during labor and delivery, by allowing the expecting person to feel happier and less stressed during labour and in the postpartum period.
What can a birthing partner do to prepare?
There are several things a support person can do to prepare for labor and delivery:
- Attend birth classes & read books on pregnancy, labor, and delivery – This gives the birthing partner an opportunity to learn and understand the process of labor and delivery before the day. This includes knowledge about the stages of labor and delivery, as well as relaxation techniques they can offer to their partner.
- Go to prenatal checkups with the pregnant person – It is important to keep up to date on the health of the pregnant person and baby.
- Go over the birth plan – Being informed about the birth plan will allow you to advocate for the pregnant person during labor and delivery. It is important to bear in mind that things do not always go to plan, so it is important to be flexible and prepared for changes to the birth plan.
Support role to the birthing person
As labor and birth progress, the support person can help by:
- Have a copy of the birth plan – You can help inform the maternity team on how you and your partner have planned for the delivery, as this will allow you and your partner to feel more in control of the birthing process
- Help keep track of contractions
- Applying relaxation and comfort measures such as a massage or counterpressure techniques to relax the birthing person
- Be on stand-by for ice, drinks, and snacks
- Stay with the birthing person so they are not alone
How to feel closer to the baby
Ways a birthing partner can feel closer to the newborn include:
- Help cut the cord
- Cuddles and skin-to-skin time with the baby
- Perform baby massages as babies respond well to touch
- Learn how to feed and bath the baby
- Help settle the baby when they are crying or are fussy
- Sing and talk to the baby
- Go for walks with the baby
- Be a key part of the bedtime routine
How to take care of yourself as the birth support partner
As a supporting partner, it is also imperative that you look after yourself as well. Some tips to stay well and healthy during and after labor is:
- Find relaxation techniques for yourself as the process may feel overwhelming to you
- Make sure to take adequate rest breaks when it works for your partner
- Bring snacks and drinks for yourself
Want to get prepared for pregnancy, birth and postpartum? Grab our free Bump to Baby Checklist! This clear and thorough guide walks you through everything to expect from your first trimester to past your 6 week postpartum check up.
- What tests and screenings will be offered and when
- When to sign up for prenatal education and what types to consider
- Things you should think about that your care provider may not mention
- Links to helpful resources