Whatever you do, don’t underestimate it… choosing a great birth support team is very, very important.
Deciding who is going to be present during childbirth can make a massive difference to the outcome of your labour. If you choose a great support team, you’ll be well supported throughout the toughest parts of labour, when you feel like you want to give up. They’ll help you to reach your goal, and as a result, you may achieve more than you ever expected.
But choose the wrong people, and you may end up feeling stressed, vulnerable, anxious and not supported in the way you hoped, leaving an epidural looking mighty seductive. When a mother-to-be is feeling out of control or unsupported in labour, it’s common for her to seek the quickest exit off the intensity freeway, so she has one less thing to worry about. Unlike her environment, it is something she is able to control.
So, how do you choose the best support team for you? Here are some helpful tips when deciding who to include in your birth support team. Please note that these tips are for untrained birth support people like family and friends. If you’d like professional birth support, consider hiring a doula or independent/homebirth midwife.
Birth Support Person Tip #1: Choose Someone Who Respects Your Choices
There’s nothing worse than going through pregnancy and childbirth with someone who tries to undermine your choices or decisions, because they think that their suggestions are better. If a potential support person is often going on about what they would do, what they did or what you should do, this is a recipe for disaster in the birth room. Not only should the birth room be quiet and respectful, but it should be free from people who add any stress or drama. Stress can really derail the birth – if the mother-to-be releases adrenaline during labour as a result of being stressed or anxious, it can slow or stall the labour.
A good way to find out how someone will respond to your choices is to go through your birth plan with them and see what their reactions are. Are they accepting what they hear, or making judgments and questioning you (in a non-curious way)?
Birth Support Person Tip #2: Consider Choosing Someone Who Has Had The Birth You’re Aiming For
Great birth support people can come in all shapes and forms, however something to consider when choosing someone to support you is the kind of birth experience they have had. If you’re wanting to have a natural birth and will do whatever it takes to avoid a caesarean section, it may be wise to choose someone who has done exactly that. Why? Any birth support person can be caring and supportive, but someone who has had the experience you want have a valuable insight into what you will need to get through and how you will feel.
If you want a natural birth and your support person has had caesareans, she may be lovely but just not know how to help you get past the craziness of transition, helping you to draw on all your inner resources.
On the other hand, if you’re having a caesarean, someone who has had a vaginal birth won’t have the experience of what you will be going through, and how different the procedures are. She may feel clueless on how to support you, and a bit out of place.
Birth Support Person Tip #3: Choose Someone Who Is A Great Listener
When you talk to a potential birth support person, do they listen to what you have to say and give you their full presence? Or do they seem to be constantly interrupting rather than being present with you? Someone who listens to you now will be a better listener during labour, when it becomes even more important. If they ask lots of questions and show curiosity into what you want, this is a great sign.
Birth Support Person Tip #4: Choose Someone Who Isn’t Hyped Up About Seeing The Baby
Anyone who has the honour of being present at a birth has some degree of excitement, awe and respect for the birth process. But some people think its just so exciting seeing a baby being born. But, you’re not getting birth support spectators. Women need support in labour, and there’s nothing worse than giving birth with people jumping around, chattering and cheering in the background while you get through one of the biggest physical and emotional challenges of your life. You need support as solid as a rock. Those who respect the process. Those who are there for YOU, not the baby.
Birth Support Person Tip #5: Choose Those Willing To Learn With You
Even if they have given birth before, a willingness to take part in learning with you is a really big sign that they truly want to be be the best support possible. You know you’re on a winner when they are happy to go to birth classes with you, or help out with the more boring or tedious of details. If you can get your birth support team along to birth classes (and I highly recommend independent birth classes) then this is a great way for your team to work well together and to find out how they can best support YOU.
What If You Don’t Have Good Support?
Rather than pick someone who you think will be ‘okay’ and not great, consider hiring a doula or even a student doula if money is an issue. Doulas are trained, experienced caregivers who provide continuous care. If you choose someone you are not sure of, you run the risk of a disappointing experience that you will always remember – it is just not worth it unless you are 110% sure. You don’t owe it to anyone, not even your mother or mother-in-law, to allow them to be present. This is not a game of IOU. The birth of your baby is a big deal, and it can all go wrong if you invite the wrong people into this sacred space.
Make sure the only people who present are those who you think can contribute a big deal too, and the less people the better. Remember: birth is not a spectator sport. If you’re not sure how to say no, check out our article on saying no to unwanted birth support people.
Your birth support team will get lots of helpful information from our articles: