A birth partner is someone you choose to have with you during your labour. They are with you in addition to the health professionals caring for you.
You can choose your partner, a family member or friend to be your birth partner. You can choose a professional birth partner such as a doula. You can decide not to have a birth partner. If you don’t have anyone who can be your birth partner, please ask your midwife if there is a charity or support service near you which offers volunteer (free) support for birth.
Please click here for the link to current hospital guidance on how many birth partners you are able to have accompany you.
Birth partners can help us to feel safe, calm, confident, supported, and ready for what labour and birth involve. Their presence can help us to feel loved and secure which generates oxytocin in our body, a hormone that helps labour, birth, bonding, attachment, and breastfeeding.
You can always talk through your thoughts and feelings about birth partners with your midwife as part of preparing to talk it through with your loved ones.
Birth partners roles and responsibilities include
- Practical support – be prepared and understand birth preferences
- Emotional support – be understanding, caring, empathise, encourage
- Company & comfort – your presence will be soothing and a source of strength
- Listening to what you want
- Physical support – helping with positions, bathing, showering, toileting
- Communicating with professionals – speak up, press the buzzer, ask questions
- Confidence building and motivating – Keep telling you, you’re doing great!
- Protecting privacy - managing visitors and contact with family and friends
- Supporting feeding and nutrition during labour and after
- Helping with bathing and changing
Tasks a birth partner might carry out
- Transport to place of birth and working out routes and parking
- Packing bags of kit for parent/s and baby/ies (clothes, toiletries, snacks, drinks etc)
- Familiarising themselves with the birth plan
- Organising regular eating and drinking through labour
- Running baths/showers
- Accompanying on walks
- Back rubs or massage
- Motivation and positivity
- Supporting labour or birth positions
- Announcing baby’s arrival
- Organising quiet, relaxed, and comfortable return home