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Why Have a Second Birth Partner?

What is a Birth Partner?

A birth partner is anybody who’s going to support you during labour and birth. And most hospitals and birthing units suggest you can have up to two birth partners. This doesn’t mean you can have a tag team. Two different people running in and out and only two at a time. It means two designated birth partners. Some people decide they only want their partner to be there, which is, of course, fine. But it is worth considering the fact that you could have a second person.

Who to Choose as your birthing partner (and who not to choose!)

There will be people in life who really stress you out, make you agitated…think about those people and then… don’t ask them! But there will be other friends and family members who will be a calming influence on you. It might really be worth considering asking them to be a second birth partner. It’s great to ask somebody who knows you well because you might just give them one look or say a few words and they can actually read you and understand what you mean.

Use People’s Time Wisely

The latent phase of labour, the earliest part of labour, can go on for days (check out our video explaining that). But if you do have a long latent phase you may not want your partner to actually be the one who’s there for that time. If it goes on for three or four days and they’re eligible for paternity leave they’re going to eat into that time. Instead, they could spend that time with you in actual established labour and once the baby’s born. So it might be worth thinking about somebody who could be there to rub your back, watch a movie with you, fetch and carry while you’re at home during the latent phase. You may not want them to remain with you for the birth…or they may not feel comfortable being there for that bit.

Options and Conversations

When you do go into a hospital or birthing unit, if that’s where you choose to give birth, then it might be worth thinking about having a second birth partner there. I looked after a couple once and it was just the two of them. Then at some point in the labour, this girl ran in full of energy, armed with bacon sandwiches. This was brilliant (bacon makes everything a little bit better in my opinion!). The partner went home for a while. He had a shower, had a lie down and came back with far more energy and was a great support. The friend then left and didn’t stay for the birth. Something similar is a good option to consider; but remember, you can only ask one person to do this – it’s not a relay race! It may be that you want two people there for the entire time, for the birth as well. If that’s the case, think about having a code word and have a conversation with that person about the fact that at some point you might want them to leave. This could even be just outside the door. The reality is that at some point you might just want it to be the two of you. It’s really good to have that conversation when you’re not in labour, so that the second birth-partner doesn’t take offence. Equally, they may feel they need to step outside the door themselves at some point & you don’t want them to feel guilty for doing so.

What’s a doula?

A doula is a professional birth partner. You can hire them to support you through the birth and also postnatally. They’re not medically trained and can’t offer clinical advice but some people find their presence and support very reassuring. We’ve had a number of clients who have hired a doula. Some have been single parents and others have decide as a couple they feel more relaxed with a doula present. If you’d like a full run down of of tips and options to consider do check out our comprehensive antenatal classes.

frequently asked questions

Most hospitals and birth units allow you to have two birth partners. This is the same two people who can be there the whole time, part of the time or take it in turns in one way or another.

They may be someone caring who know just what to say. Alternatively they may be great at taking care of the practicalities that your partner can’t attend to as they are focused on you. They may even just rock up part way through to give extra encouragement and energy; pockets loaded with your favourite snacks!

A doula is a professional birth partner. They will be experienced at attending births. They cannot give midwifery advice but they can support you (and your partner) and some offer practical help in the early weeks of parenting.

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