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Choosing a birth partner

Choosing a birth partner


The perfect birthing partner

Giving birth can be a daunting prospect, so it helps to have someone you know and trust to support you on the day. Make sure you and your chosen birth partner both understand the important role they have to play.

Why a birthing partner is important

Writing your birth plan and reading about labour will help you understand what to expect when you give birth, but another way of preparing for the big day is by choosing a birth partner or doula. Their main role is to give you support and help you make any decisions during labour and birth, especially if things don’t go quite as expected. They can also provide a comforting source of reassurance and practical help throughout pregnancy.

During labour, your birth partner should be prepared to:

  • Act as your prompter – reminding you to move around, use the breathing techniques you learned at antenatal classes or yoga – and doing whatever makes you comfortable.
  • Be your communicator – making sure you are aware of any interventions that might be needed and speaking up for you if necessary.
  • Be flexible – knowing that anything could happen and being supportive of any new choices you have to make
“My husband knew what I wanted to happen, and more importantly, my reasons why. It helped him make the best decisions for me when things didn’t go quite to plan.”
Joanna, mum to Poppy

Who to choose as your birthing partner

Many women choose their baby’s father as their birthing partner, but you can choose anyone you trust – your mum, sister, a close friend, or a paid companion called a doula.

A doula offers emotional and practical support before, during and after childbirth. She can act as your birth partner or as an extra help to both of you. She can accompany you in hospital or be present at your home if you’ve chosen to have a home birth. However, her job isn’t to replace a midwife. Doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth and their primary role is to enable a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered experience possible. They provide continual care and objective advice while keeping you and your birth partner focused on your birth plan.

You can find out more about the philosophy and service of doulas and search for one in your area at

Next Steps

  • Share your birth plan with your birth partner
  • Ensure they understand your feelings on birthing positions and methods of pain relief
  • If there is any chance they may not be available on the day, have a back-up birth partner, just in case
Last reviewed: 4th February 2016

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