Choosing a birth partner - your options
When you're in labour - having someone there to give support is important - but who should it be?
In some cases the dad or partner may not be available or the best option. Here are some options to consider, and the pros and cons, when choosing a birth partner.
It's your partner's baby too, and they are likely to want to be involved in the birth and bond with both of you. They also know you well and will be able to support you emotionally.
But they do need to be clear on what they are and are not willing to do – do they want to see the actual birth? Will they go into the delivery suite with you if you need a Caesarean? Would they rather stick to being at the "head end"?
They may be traumatised by seeing you in pain, and may be more likely to be anxious about your health and that of the baby than someone who has been through labour themselves, such as your mum.
She's probably been through it herself, she's known you forever and you're unlikely to be embarrassed in front of her.
She is also likely to be very assertive when it comes to making decisions and will have your best interests, and those of your baby, forefront in her mind.
Medical advancements mean that labour and birth will have changed quite a lot since she had you - you need to ensure that she's up-to-date with what to expect now.
If you're having your mum and your partner as birth partners, you need to make sure that they will work well together. You could give them specific roles - for example, your partner can look after you emotionally, while your mum takes care of the practical things.
Your sister or best friend
She'll be on your wavelength, able to offer emotional support and may be less upset by seeing you in pain than your partner. She may also have been through labour herself, which may make you feel reassured.
If she had a bad labour herself, she may panic if things become a little stressful with yours. If she hasn't had a baby or been a birth partner before, she may not be fully prepared for what's in store.
Hire a doula
Birth doulas are professional birth partners who can be there for the birth. They are not medically trained - that's what midwives do. Emotional support and companionship is their speciality. Doulas can also help a young family afterwards.
Doulas have experience of helping women through labour and delivery.
You have to pay them.