So you're gonna be a birth partner! You may also be about to be a parent, grandmother, aunt? You're committed yet nervous. This is a woman you love, your soul mate, daughter, sister or best friend? I get it, it's a major responsibility. You don't want to see her in pain, you don't want anything to go wrong, you want her to feel safe yet empowered and when exactly are you gonna eat and pee?
This guide is your starting block, use it to propel you into your journey toward this birth.
If you're not prepared to study then you're taking the wellbeing of a woman you love and a baby you assisted in the creation of and you're putting it in the hands of 'the system'. You're falling at the first hurdle, you're swerving responsibility.
These books might not appear to be the most exciting in your opinion but they are full of information you won't believe! Birth is absolutely not what you've thought it was this whole time, it's a natural process and it's possible to birth without any interventions at all! Homebirth is SAFE! Breastfeeding doesn't just happen. A caesarean is major surgery not just a convenience.
Take everything you think you know about birth and scrap it. Listen to your partner and read the damn books.
I'm a huge advocate of our Maternity care and the role they play when a situation veers from the norm. They do save lives and, in my opinion, our Midwives are the heroes of our NHS system.
That said, it is essential to remember that information presented to you may not be as clear cut as you believe it to be. So much of the care you receive could be based on personal opinion or discretion and therefore it is hugely important you gather as much evidence based information for yourself on any situation you encounter.
For example - You may not be aware that it is optional for your baby's umbilical cord to remain unclamped and uncut for a period of time following birth. Had you not known this baby's cord would be clamped pretty shortly after baby arrives. You'd have joyfully cut the cord, maybe even taken a selfie to document the momentous moment, completely unaware that you had just deprived your newborn of precious blood which may still have been pumping through the cord from the placenta. Some of evidence for delayed cord clamping can be found below*
Also, it is now accepted fact that an upright position is the most effective for birthing baby. Laying flat on your back is constantly condemned by professionals as the least effective way to get baby out safely... However, dependant on which care giver you have in the birth room, mum may still be told (and I mean told, demanded to even!) to lie on her back. This is an example of a situation in which you may have gone along with 'orders' not realising that it's placing mum and baby at potential risk, all to suit the comfort or preference of an individual you've never met before!
So, know that not all 'routine' procedures are actually evidence based. Get educated on birth rights and be open to some ideas you may have previously been very uncomfortable with such as declining care, questioning health professionals, trusting your own research.
*Important Point* If you truly don't feel comfortable questioning 'authority' figures or if you don't think you're going to be able to fully commit to this point it may be worth discussing with your partner. There is always the option of a second birth partner or hiring a doula to advocate for you both while you support your partner in all other aspects of the birth. It's just not possible to bypass this point so give it enormous commitment or find someone who can do it for you.
Is mum considering homebirth? Great, listen to why! Would she like to attempt this birth with no pain relief? Believe that she can and tell her you will do everything you can to help. Stop the questioning bullshit. This is her body and she is doing what she believes is best for her and her baby so just pipe down and support her fully. I get that you may be nervous and maybe even skeptical but there is a primal calling in a woman's heart to birth her way and if you attempt to stand in the way of it all you're going to do is drive a wedge between you both. Listen to her reasons, trust her judgement and be her wing man/woman in this birth! She needs you.
When the big day comes, keep going, tell her she is incredible, that you love her, that she is doing an amazing job and you're in awe of her. Tell her she is strong and she is kicking ass and that she can absolutely do this! What harm can any of this do, seriously? Being a pessimistic Pete is gonna help nobody here and it could actually create a void in your relationship which you may never cross. If you do have concerns or worries, go research them. Read, read, read and then calmly discuss with her but never ever doubt her ability to birth this baby.
Please get in touch if you're nervous about being a birth partner. I offer 121 consultancy as I genuinely believe we are nowhere near supporting birth partners effectively in this country. I'll do all I can to assist you and your partner in your preparation for the most wonderful day of your lives.
All the very best of luck and enjoy Your Birth 😘