Whether it’s your partner, a parent, your best friend or a doula, most people will have somebody - or more than one person - in mind when they think about their birth partners.
In years gone by, women weren’t allowed birth partners in the room while they were in labour, but overtime the NHS has recognised the important role they can play in keeping everything under control.
In Yahoo UK’s The Baby Bump with Lauren Pope, Pope admits that her partner, TJ, has a four-page guide to get the both of them through her labour.
“The birth partner has so much to actually do on the day,” Elise Tobias, hypnobirthing coach at Birth Bubble explains exactly what is expected from this important role.
“Your birth partner will be responsible for creating a really lovely environment for you, both at home and also as you transfer,” Tobias explains.
“If you’re in a loving relationship with your partner to some degree you’re going to have a fantastic level of trust and intimacy with that person, then they are going to be the person who can boost your production of oxytocin which is basically the number one hormone when it comes to labour.”
Oxytocin is responsible for every contraction a woman has during birth.
“It’s the hormone of love,” Tobias says, “and simply by being there, by supporting you, by knowing lots of different massage techniques and how to touch you that will really help you feel safe and relaxed.
“Your partner will actually be boosting your own levels of oxytocin.”
Pope has put together her own extensive birth plan, which includes four pages for her partner, based on things which make her anxious.
“I get anxious if I feel like people are faffing around me or if I feel like within a room two nurses or midwives came in and were talking in a low voice, I would start convincing myself that they’re quiet because they don’t want me to know something’s going on or something’s wrong.
“You can tell your partner what you do and don’t want to hear and even who you want in the room.
“If at any point he sees me starting to get stressed out, he can go to whoever’s in the room and say ‘can we talk about this outside?’ and by removing that situation, hopefully my anxiety levels will stay low.”
Tobias believes that this power of working together throughout pregnancy is essential for the day.
“Humans work really well through the five senses, so what’s in the birth bag that you can see, that you can smell, that you’re going to be eating, what snacks are going to make you feel good, how they’re going to touch you.
“All of these things; sight, smell, sound, taste and touch, the five senses, are going to massively impact the way you feel.”
Tobias also recommends that your birth partner remains in a calm state with you, having a partner who’s running around can be “anxiety triggering” so everything should be approached in a calm and rational manner.
Speaking to Yahoo UK, Tobias explains that the birthing partner plays a key role from the get go, which includes speaking to the midwives on your behalf ahead of arriving at your place of birth.
“I always suggest that the birth partner should make this call - as it asserts them as a key part of the birthing team, and in addition, when you are in labour and nearing the point you are ready to go in, the labour should feel like it is really taking over, and so this phone call could take the woman out of her ‘birth bubble’ which could disrupt her rhythm, flow and her birthing hormones
“We know that low levels of adrenaline are produced whenever we have a conversation, and we know that oxytocin, the hormone of birth, cannot flow at the same time as adrenaline - hence why it is a great idea if your partner can make the call for you.
“Your partner should let the midwife know you are calm thanks to using all your hypnobirthing relaxation techniques and how you are coping. As a first time mum, it is a good idea to call triage / your midwife, once you have been having surges (contractions) in the 3 in every 10 minute pattern for at least an hour.
“They will often advise you to stay at home for a further hour and then to come in - this sort of timing works well as it gives the labour time to establish, so that when you arrive at your unit, you will be 4 or more centimetres dilated - which means that you can be shown straight to the birth centre or labour ward, without needing to be separated from your birth partner (this is currently happening due to the restrictions on birth partners entering hospitals before their partner is deemed to be in "active labour" - so you want to try to stay at home for as long as possible!)”