Birth partners are so important during birth! There are so many roles the birth partner can play and they are paramount in the mother’s birth experience.
A birthing mother is designed to seek out a safe space for the birth of her baby. This space should be comfortable and familiar, a space where she can deeply relax to allow her body to do what it has been designed to do, to open and guide her baby earth side. The event that is to unfold is sacred and is deserving of the safest of spaces.
The birth partner, usually someone who has a loving and trusting relationship with the mother, will help the mother feel at ease and protected. The mother may be conditioned to relax with something as simple as the unique smell of their birth partner. Hands up if you instantly feel more at ease when you wrap your arms around your mother or partner and inhale their unique scent?
Hands up again, if you feel your troubles melt away in the arms of your loved one? A good hug, or even better, a good pash, will release oxytocin. This amazing love hormone peaks during love making, breastfeeding and, you guessed it, birth! It is vital for effective labour. The closer mother and baby become to being ready for birth, the greater number of oxytocin receptors become available. It has become common practice to use a synthetic version of this hormone to induce or progress labour, but unfortunately, the synthetic version doesn’t have the same effects on mother and baby (a story for another time). So why not try to skip the synthetic version, have a good “cuddle” and enjoy all the benefits including the potential to progress labour and increase natural pain relief?
On the point of natural pain relief, did you know we have a complex but beautiful concoction of hormones that help us in birth and beyond? Check out Dr. Sarah Buckley for all the goods! I’ve already mentioned oxytocin, but another important player is endorphins. Endorphins are said to be 20 to 40 times more powerful than morphine. Move over epidural and endorphins come at me! How can we increase endorphins? We release these when we are relaxed. The amazing birth partner will most definitely help mother to relax. As well as being familiar and comforting, the birth partner can assist with setting up the environment to be more relaxing, providing massage, and protecting the mother’s sacred birth space.
When a mother is bringing her baby earth side, she is vulnerable. It’s a time where she needs to go deep within herself and focus all her energy on relaxing, and letting her body do its job. Sometimes, doctors and midwives will talk with the mother about the birth, and about her progress. Sometimes she will be in a great space for these conversations, and sometimes she won’t. A great birth partner will be on the same page as the mother, he or she will know what the mother wants and will have the mother and baby’s best interests at heart. In the circumstance where mother doesn’t feel she can have those conversations, her amazing birth partner can help her out.
Sometimes, decisions need to be made during birth. They may be decisions that the mother and birth partner have considered and discussed, but they may not be. In the circumstance where a decision needs to be made and the mother and birth partner have no previous knowledge on the subject, a conversation will need to occur with the care provider enabling the mother to have enough information to be informed and to be able to provide informed consent. In the thick of birth, this can often be difficult. It may be difficult for the mother to find enough energy to convert away from birthing her baby to talk at all, yet alone formulate the appropriate questions to have this kind of conversation. Birth partner to the rescue again, he or she can ask the right questions to get enough information for the mother to be able to make an informed choice.
All of these above factors and more are reasons why birth partners are so important! They are so vital in one of life’s most beautiful and sacred events and should be celebrated along with mother and baby.