If you ask your mother’s mother who was there when she gave birth, there’s a good chance she will say something along the lines of ‘only the doctor, the midwife and the nurse.’ The father of the child was likely banished to the waiting room, with other family, friends, and other potential support people also absent from the birthing space. That’s if the mother was giving birth in a hospital. Generally speaking, the only other option back then was to give birth at home. In which case, many births were attended by a local GP if the timing and geography was in their favour, or maybe a local midwife. Rarely were fathers included in the birth unless absolutely necessary, the birthing of babies being seen as ‘women’s business’.
These days however, times have very much changed. Not least of all is the fact that many fathers are now emotionally invested in the possibility of being actively involved in the birth of their child. The physical birthing space is now increasingly open to an array of support people that you, the mother, can assemble to best meet your anticipated physical and emotional needs.
Today we look at the non-medical roles that you might like to consider when working on assembling your ideal support team.*
Whether you are in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship, in almost all birthing situations, partners are very much welcomed and encouraged these days. However, depending on your religious or cultural background, or your partner’s history, he or she may a little uncertain about their role and/or ability to help. It’s a really good idea to discuss beforehand what your partner will and won’t do during the birth process.
Is your partner’s role going to be primarily of emotional support – hand-holding and words of encouragement? Or do you both agree to your partner having a more active role? Catching the baby? Cutting the umbilical cord? Is active physical involvement even possible for your partner? Maybe they faint at the sight of blood?! Or have knee injuries that mean any kind of kneeling baby catch is out of the question!
The more physically involved your partner is intending to be, the more important it is to be having comprehensive discussions beforehand with the medical professionals who will also be supporting you in birth. Including the professionals in the planning means there’s less chance of confusion during the actual birth, more unity and understanding in your team, and more opportunity for your partner to fully prepare his or her self for the experience.
You may know that saying, ‘Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.’ What more profound way to embrace that sentiment than to have your closest friend(s) at the birth of your child?
There are many reasons you may not want, or be able to have, your biological family at the birth. Distance, illness, death, and personality conflicts can all be reasons your biological family can’t or won’t be there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel loved, supported, and embraced by the family of your choosing as you make this birth journey.
As with including your partner, the involvement level of any close friend(s) needs to be thoroughly discussed beforehand and all of the previously mentioned considerations apply too.
You know what an obstetrician is, you know what a midwife is, but do you know what a doula is and how having one can make your birth journey smoother and more supported?
DONA International, the world’s largest doula certifying organisation defines a doula as ‘a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.’
Described as like a tour guide in a foreign country, doulas are professionally trained, non-medical birth support people. Your partner or best friend may have all the best intentions in the world, but this may be their first birth too, and they may be a little overwhelmed. Doulas are there to fill that gap and compliment the role of a midwife. To provide support in whatever way needed and appreciated – hand holding, hot compresses, massages, breathing exercises, and more.
If you’d like to know more about doulas, research online, ask for recommendations from friends who have used one, or ask at other likely contact places like pre-natal yoga classes.
Hopefully this list has gotten the ball rolling for you when thinking about who to include in your informal birth support team, in addition to the right formal medical team. The safety and health of yourself and your baby are, of course, of paramount importance in the birthing process. And for this to be covered you need to, first and foremost, engage experienced, properly qualified medical professionals. MAC Healthcare offers professional, experienced, fully qualified midwifery services to those in the Canberra area. It would be an honour to be part of your birthing team, please contact us to discuss the process of choosing the right medical support team for you and your baby.
* Please be aware that this information is general in nature, and is most relevant to low-risk pregnancies. In the event that a birth involves serious medical complications, contact with the patient(s)’ (you and your baby/babies’) wider support team at the time of birth may be very limited. Fortunately, a good support team is there for you before and after the birth, not just during, so rest assured, if you plan it well and actively invite the right people to be part of your journey, you will be well supported!
Image Source:Tim Marshall