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Birth Partners and Doulas

Bringing a new life into the world is a profound journey, both exciting and daunting. Amidst the swirl of emotions and physical challenges, having the right support can make all the difference. Birth partners and doulas play pivotal roles in this journey, offering guidance, comfort and advocacy.

Birth partners: Who should I ask to be at my birth?

A birth partner can be anyone you fully trust and you feel will be able to offer you the best support in labour and birth. This could be your partner, a family member or close friend or you may just want a doula. Their role extends far beyond just being there (although ‘being’ is hugely important too…more on that later). Birth partners are the constant pillars of support, offering emotional encouragement, physical support and advocacy during one of life's most transformative experiences.


What does this support look like?

Emotional Support: The emotional rollercoaster of birth can be intense so having a trusted birth partner by your side can provide a sense of calm and reassurance. Whether it's holding a hand, offering words of encouragement or simply being a steady presence (‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ can be exactly what is required), birth partners play a crucial role in helping to navigate the highs and lows of labour.


Physical Support: From setting up the birth space, helping with relaxation techniques and massage to adjusting pillows and fetching water and providing comfort measures, birth partners offer hands-on support to ease the physical discomforts of labour.


Advocacy: In the midst of labour, it can be challenging to articulate your needs and preferences clearly. Birth partners can do this for you, communicating your needs and wishes to healthcare providers and ensuring the birth plan is respected to the fullest extent possible. They can hold space (‘please can we have a few minutes to discuss our options’) and use the B.R.A.I.N. acronym to help you make informed decisions.

Doulas: Guardians of the birth experience

While birth partners provide invaluable support, doulas bring a unique set of skills and expertise to the birthing journey. 


What does this support look like?

Continuous Support: One of the most significant benefits of having a doula is the continuous support they offer throughout pregnancy, labour and birth. From the moment you book a doula to the final moments of birth and the golden hour (and perhaps postnatally at home too), doulas remain by your side, offering support and encouragement every step of the way.


Emotional and Informational Support: Doulas are skilled in providing emotional support, offering reassurance, being your cheerleader and helping you navigate the challenges of labour. They also provide valuable informational support, equipping you with knowledge about birth options, pain management and help you to understand medical interventions. They can help you form a postnatal plan and prepare to breastfeed too. Knowledge is power and all doulas want you to be able to make informed decisions that align with your preferences and values.


Advocacy and Communication: Doulas ensure your voice is heard and birth plans are respected by healthcare providers. They facilitate communication between the mother, her birth team and medical staff, helping to bridge any gaps and strive for a positive birthing experience.

Birth partners and doulas working together and doulas supporting birth partners

I am sometimes asked…’do doulas replace a birth partner?’ and the answer is a resounding NO! Both birth partners and doulas share a common goal: for the mother to have a positive and empowering birthing experience. By collaborating closely, they create an environment of trust, respect, and support.

While birth partners and doulas play distinct roles, they complement each other’s strengths and as such, their combined support can hugely enhance your birth experience.

The wonderful thing about having a doula at your birth is that your birth partner is also supported. Doulas can:

- offer guidance to your partner about how to support you (ahead of the birth and in the moment)
- give your partner a break without them feeling guilty that they are leaving you for a few minutes
- support your partner emotionally as they see you go through labour and watch birth unfold
- can help your partner understand what is happening and explain any medical terms


I am incredibly passionate about building the right support team for you during pregnancy, labour and birth and in the postnatal period. If you’d like to explore how your birth team could look, I’d love to hear from you! 

You can find out more about my birth, postnatal and overnight offerings by reading the different sections of my website.


And if you would like to read my Instagram post on Birth Partner Tips, you can find it here.

April 2024

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