Birth can be intense, physically and emotionally, and mom usually spends a lot of time thinking of who will be a part of this experience to make it enjoyable. A rule of thumb, the baby will come out most easily in the environment that got him there – everything from the room, the lighting, and the people involved. However, many moms don’t feel comfortable giving birth unassisted, so who is best to bring into the birth space? Mom has a lot of options.
Bringing friends and family should be carefully considered, as most don’t know how to support a laboring mom, may have negative birth experiences of their own, or may not have a role. If you’re bringing in anyone else other than the main birth partner (which is often Dad), seriously consider their role. If they don’t have a role other than observer, then they are unnecessary. Don’t allow people into this intimate time just because you’re being nice. They’ll have plenty of time to get to greet the family after the babymoon.
Your main birth partner is often someone that you are very close with and share your most intimate experiences with, which is typically Dad. Dad may or may not be interested in providing a large portion of the support, and this is A-OK. Men really weren’t designed for this type of event, though many dads do make awesome labor guides. No matter the birth partner – or anyone else on the birth team – they should not be coaching the event. You don’t need a coach; you need support to birth instinctively. I like to think of Dad as the “birth protector.” They protect the space – which is what their instincts tell them to do – so that mom can labor instinctively. This might be dimming lights, gathering water, reminding you to stay hydrated, or providing a strong arm when you want to squat or need back pressure. Their presence means much more than anything that they “do” at the birth. Their knowledge of the birth process will come in handy, but mom can relax knowing that it is perfectly normal to want an experienced woman on her side during labor.
Other than your care provider, what are your options?
Typically, there is a doula or montrice. A doula is a “woman who serves” and she typically serves the laboring mother and her birth partner. Her main focus is the mother’s needs, be it physical, emotional, or informational support, but she may also be providing a comforting ear to the birth partner as labor progresses. A doula does not provide clinical care and this is where she differs from a montrice.
A montrice provides all the services of a doula, but also provides clinical care such as checking heart tones, blood pressure, or even vaginal exams (although typically unnecessary) but does not catch the baby or act as the care provider. Various midwives and assistants provide these types of services, though typically at a higher rate than doula care. A mom may choose to hire a doula or montrice for all the support that they provide, but to also help her stay at home as long as possible before transferring to the hospital. Which to choose really depends on the mom’s needs and is as individual as which care provider to select.
Hiring a birth team is an important part of the informed decisions you’ll make during your perinatal experience. Being selective about who you bring into your birth space will help you to have a safer and happier birth.
Who did you bring to your birth, and how do you feel they affected your experience?
Danielle Bergum is the mother of two home birthed children. She is a freelance marketing and drafting designer by trade and the director of Esali Birth by calling. Intrigued by back-to-our-roots reasoning, she became a passionate advocate for informed decisions, biological birth experiences and breastfeeding.