You’ve picked your birthing partner, now it’s time to pick his brains. A bit of pre-labour quizzing will help the birth go better – for both of you
Whether it’s with a well-timed back massage, handy energy snacks or simply some comforting reassurance, your birth partner can be a massive support when it comes to bringing your baby into the world.
It could pay off dividends. Research shows a well-supported mum-to-be often approaches labour better and may even have a shorter birth.
You may want your partner or think a friend or relative will be your best support on the day. Whoever you choose, make sure you ask the important questions before you get to the labour ward.
1. Will you come to antenatal classes with me?
You’ve booked in for classes, but your partner is dragging his heels. Could it be the idea of a scary birth video or having to practice labour breathing with a load of strangers?
In order for your birth partner to be your best support, he needs to go through the same learning process as you. Reassure him it really won’t be that heavy. But, if he still won’t come round to the idea, it may be worth drafting a new recruit as your birthing buddy.
2. Can you help me write my birth plan?
Reading up on the different labour and pain-relief options, you can start thinking about how you’d like to have your baby. Writing your plan with your birth partner helps start chats about what’s going to happen on the day. Knowing what they are and are not comfortable with can help you feel confident about what to expect when you are in labour.
3. Should we have another person present during labour?
It’s important to talk to your birth partner about having a third person present, such as your mum or doula. It can help to have someone to support you while your birth partner has a break. You will be able to stay focused, rather than worrying that the baby might appear when you are on your own.
4. What if I change my mind about my birth plan?
Discussing the fact you might deviate from your birth plan during labour is vital. Mia Scotland, a clinical psychologist and hypnobirthing practitioner, advises addressing the different ways you might change your mind. ‘Decide what are green, amber and red light scenarios,’ she says. ‘For example, some women may not like the idea of pethidine, but will give it a try, whereas others would class it firmly as a no-go because it can make a newborn woozy if given too near delivery.’
5. How do you view your birth partner role during labour?
When considering exactly what you’d like your partner to do during labour, think about how you’ve got through tough or painful moments in the past. ‘Do you like being fussed over, or would you rather be left alone to focus on yourself?’ says Mia. ‘Once you’ve worked that out, you can decide what you want your birth partner’s role to be.’
A partner can help keep you motivated, stroke your back or tell you how great you’re doing. You need to tell him what will help you.
6. Do you want to see the baby arriving?
Your and your birth partner’s attitude towards being down the ‘business end’ is worth discussing before you reach the labour ward. Some women won’t care, but others don’t want their partner seeing everything. Similarly, your bloke may have strong feelings about this.
If you’re feeling anxious about it, your labour may slow down. Discuss it with your birth partner in advice, so they know your feelings and you know theirs.
7. Are you nervous about being my birth partner?
Mum-to-be labour fears are common, but your birth partner may also be nursing anxieties of their own.
‘It’s vital you address your partner’s feelings – if he’s scared, you may start tensing up, too,’ says Nicole Croft, author of The Good Birth Companion (£11.99, Vermilion). Some birth partners worry they will pass out. By talking over those fears with your antenatal class tutor or midwife, your partner should be able to put his mind at ease.
Birthing partners are not powerless in the delivery suite – their role is vital in helping your birth go well.