/ The Daisy Foundation with Lesley Doig

A baby in hindsight: the importance of the birth partner

In our modern society, the usual person to be in the room with us whilst we give birth is our partners. However, their role and responsibility is often over looked and undervalued until they are almost a passive participant in the experience. A fly on the wall, watching as you make the decisions, and call them forward only when you think they should be involved. For myself and others, this was to squeeze their hands as I rode the contractions (not calmly or in any way controlled). But is this the best way?

During my first birth my husband was a glorified hand holder, and had very little input. The second was basically the same but he knew a little more. My knowledge on labour from the first to the second had vastly improved but I had not shared that information in a way that allowed him to remember all the points. He and myself, had vastly undervalued his role in the room. This led to a lot of regrets, confusion and negative feelings towards both births. Now, in hindsight, I often talk to him about the ways I wish he had supported me, and how I wished he had been more involved and knowledgeable.

Talking to other mums, I realised just how much of a mistake this had been. They described being in this bubble, where the midwives and doctors were kept at bay by their birth partners. This allowed them to stay in this primitive state and they could feel the labour progress and move forward. Some needed no pain relief, and were able to go through their transitioning phase and second stage with very little intervention if any. A completely frightening and unrealistic story to me. But its true!

It’s important to understand the science of the brain during labour. A part of the brain called the neocortex which is basically the thinking part of the brain, needs to quieten and allow the limbic system to take over, which allows you to react more to the hormonal signals in the body. The neocortex quietens for another activity in our lives to; sex. So, if we think on how we like to have sex, it is not usually, in a bright room, with other people touching us, coming in and out of our area, with noises we are not used to and smells that we do not like. When we think about our birthing environment, we should therefore think about the environments we enjoy being in when we are intimate.

Before my second birth, I attended the Daisy Birthing Class and was a lot more informed about the importance of the environment, and what I needed and wanted to happen to have the most calming, relaxing birth I could. Even though my experience was traumatic again, I did feel more in control and had less to go through to over come the trauma. However, had my partner been to a class to, I do believe that he would have then possessed the knowledge and tools to aid me more in creating the environment that would have helped me relax. ‘Cause to be frank, I don’t know many women in their birthing state that are able to make logical, rational, thought-out decisions. So yeah, you knowing things is important, but everyone else in the room needs to know them to!

As part of my reading in becoming a Daisy Teacher and supporting the Birth Partner in the classes, I have started to read Penny Simkin with Katie Rohs’ The Birth Partner, 5th Edition, and oh my goodness! I wish we had read this before the birth! It all makes so much sense!

So, The Birth Partner, more important than you realise and really needs to be an active participant, and even maybe your voice and barrier, in the birthing room.