Support people during labour and birth
Support people can care for you and encourage you during labour and birth.
Your support people should:
- be people you trust
- be well prepared
- want to be there for you
- make you feel comfortable.
Your support people might include:
- your partner
- a birth partner
- another family member
- a friend
- your doula
- other health professionals – for example, a reiki therapist or massage therapist.
Well ahead of the birth it’s worth talking with your partner, family, friends or doula (if you have one) to find out whether they can be at the birth.
How support people can help during labour and birth
From the start of labour, continuous, comforting and encouraging support will help your labour to progress. This kind of support also reduces the chance of you having birth interventions.
But too many people in the birthing suite can distract you and even slow your labour. It’s a good idea to talk with your midwife or doctor about the upsides and possible downsides of having more than a few support people at the birth.
Before the birth, talk with your support people about your birth plan, so they know what you want them to do and how they can help you.
How many support people can you have?
Some public hospitals, private hospitals and birth centres limit how many people can be in the room. And sometimes the rooms aren’t big enough to comfortably fit more than 2 support people. It’s a good idea to ask your hospital or birth centre how many support people you can have with you.
If you’re having a caesarean, your birth partner is usually encouraged to be with you if the operation is being done using spinal anaesthetic or an epidural. But if you need a general anaesthetic, your partner might not be able to stay in the operating theatre.
If you’re having a homebirth, you’ll have more flexibility and control over your environment and the people you have with you during labour and birth. Family and friends can be there, along with your other children, if you want.
Practical information for your support people
Food isn’t usually supplied for partners or family. They can bring their own or buy it at hospital cafes. Check the hospital or birth centre rules about keeping and storing food in fridges and reheating food.
If your partner is staying overnight, a bed might be provided. Check with the hospital or birth centre.
You might want your support people to visit you after the birth. Check with your hospital or birth centre about visiting hours and limits on how many people can visit at a time. Limited visiting hours give you and your baby time for rest.