Labor Support – How Do I Decide Who is Present for the Labor and Birth?

There are so many things to consider when preparing for your baby’s birthday, it can be somewhat overwhelming as exciting as it is.  You pack your bag for the hospital or birth center trying to remember everything you will need to be relaxed and comfortable, or you prepare the sanitary towels and birth kit for your homebirth.  You and your family and friends have spent weeks preparing the baby’s room, the layette, and making a final set of purchases for immediate needs.  You write your birth plan detailing your ideal birth and listing preferences for how you would like things to go if or when your birth veers off the envisioned path.  You and your partner or friend complete your birthing classes, or complete the reading you wanted to finish before the birth.  You practice massage techniques and exercises for labor and birth, and go over again your preferences for comfort measures (pain management) during labor with your practitioner.  At some point during this preparation, you have considered who will be with you during your labor and birth.

In many instances, mothers choose a partner, family member, or friend to accompany them in the journey to the birth of their baby.  Aside from this one, sort of, “obvious” person, there are others to consider.  Sometimes folks will ask to be a part of your experience – whether it be your own mother or mother-in-law, or a close family friend.  You may also realize that you have someone else in mind who you would like to be there for support.  Then, there are those you know should not be there despite their wanting to be.

When considering who will be with you during your labor and birth experience think of the roles those people will play, or what “job” you would like them to have during your journey.  For example, your husband/partner/friend will be your main labor support for massage, helping you stay mobile and upright, and encouraging you when needed.  You may choose your own mother, who you would like to relieve your main support when they need a break.  Maybe you just want that familiar presence in the room for comfort and reassurance.  When choosing those who will remain with you through labor and birth, don’t be afraid to limit those present in order to keep things positive.  Choose people who are fully supportive of your birth plan, and those who are prepared to help you if the going gets tough.  Think of those who aren’t fearful of the birthing process, and will be an encouragement as you progress.

Another consideration, is hiring a trained doula (labor support person) who will be there with you as soon as you call, before you go to the hospital/birth center (if applicable) and during the hospital/birth center experience.  Doulas are trained and experienced with the huge variety of comfort measures available to the laboring woman, and will serve a variety of roles during the process.  A doula will meet with you prior to labor to evaluate your preferences and make suggestions for what you would like during labor.  The doula will also meet with you for a postpartum visit or two.  When considering doulas, interview several (if several are available) and choose the one that makes you feel the most secure.  The presence of a doula during birthing has been shown to enhance the positive feelings mothers associate with their experience.  The need for medical intervention and/or pain medication is lessened, and the possibility of needing a cesarean is decreased.  The doula is not there to replace medical staff or to give medical advice.  The doula will provide informational and emotional support when applicable, that can help the decision making processes during birth be less stressful.  A doula is a mother’s advocate and is there for the mother whatever her wishes might be.  Doulas don’t take the place of your chosen partner or the baby’s father during the birth experience, but will be there for the both of you.  There are many certifying organizations for doulas, the most prominent being DONA (Doulas of North America).  However, there are many trained/experienced doulas practicing without a major certification that are very qualified as well.  When choosing a doula, ask plenty of questions, and choose the person who fits within your personal preferences, personality, experience level, and budget.

Choosing who will be present for your birth experience is an important part of planning for your baby’s birthday.  Medical staff, including labor and delivery nurses most often cannot be with you continuously during your labor.  In many situations, your doctor or midwife may only pop in and out of your room and be present only to catch your baby.  So, those you choose on your own, will have some of the biggest roles in ensuring that you are comfortable, feeling safe, and supported as you labor and birth.

The following video is from Mother’s Advocate and Lamaze International, and details the Healthy Birth Practice of Continuous Support Through Labor.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at birthtrue@gmail.comI also provide doula services to the mothers of southeastern Kentucky. 

Many happy days to you and yours,

Kelli

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About Kelli

I am Kelli B. Haywood, LCCE, a childbirth educator certified through Lamaze, a birth doula, and prenatal yoga instructor. My two little girls light my life. I am the wife of artist, musician, and teacher - John Haywood.
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