The Role of The Birth Partner

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Supporting somebody through labour and birth is always a privilege, but it’s also tough. It takes patience, resilience, and some idea of what you and they will need.

It can be helpful to create a birth plan together. Here you can include what’s important to you both. This may be using a birth pool, how the placenta is delivered or who cuts the cord.

Practical things you can do for the room

Hormones are responsible for birth and they play a really important part in labour. Whether you are birthing at home, or in the hospital, it’s important that we create an environment that helps the production of these hormones. 

Birth is quicker and easier when the relaxation hormone is high. For this to happen, the hormone needs a few essential things –

Soft lighting

Hormones respond to bright lights, and relaxation happens when the lights are low. You can dim the hospital room lights and you can take some LED battery candles with you to create a calm atmosphere.

Create a nest

This can be as simple as a space for the labouring woman/person to relax. Most rooms will have floor mats, beanbags and birth balls to use. Consider bringing in a pillow from home and set up a comfy space.


Create relaxation. Most hospitals have a very distinct smell which some people do not find relaxing. You are able to change this using aromatherapy oils, but please check your hospital’s guidelines on this.


You might want to create a playlist and you can take a speaker with you into hospital if you wish. If surgery is required for birth, you can still have music playing in the background.

Don’t be afraid to ask for extra equipment if it’s not already in the room.

Birthing ball

A birthing ball can be used to sit or lean on. They help to create an upright position which makes labour quicker.

Birthing stool

A birthing stool helps to create an upright position which makes labour quicker.

Birthing pool

Warm water relieves muscle tension and eases pain. A labouring woman/person might wish to use a birth pool for this. Using a birth pool is not the same as having a bath. A pool helps take a pregnant person’s weight and they will find it easier to change positions. The pool can also be used to relieve pain in labour and baby can be born in the pool if that’s what the labouring woman/person would like.

As baby is already surrounded by warm water this is a gentle journey for them.

Hospital bed

The hospital bed can also be changed into different positions which will help with gravity.

Practical things you can do for the person in labour

Breathing Techniques

Have you learnt breathing techniques( space for link) This may seem like something that only someone in labour needs, but if you are the supporter, it can be helpful for you too!

These work really well for all births, including caesarean births, so think back to these techniques if labour gets tricky.


Did you know that massage produces endorphins – the body’s natural way of reducing pain. Think about how you can use this. If you’ve been to hypnobirth (space to add link to classes/organisations offering classes?) be ready with a relaxation script when needed.


Food and drink are essential fuel for the long labour journey. Can you start to think about easy food that gives energy in labour? It might be bite-sized cereal bars, grapes and nuts, or anything that provides fuel. Make a list and remember to take it with you.

TENS Machine

A TENs machine can be used in labour. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It’s a form of pain relief that you can control with a hand-held device.

A TENS machine works by sending mild electrical impulses to sticky pads on your lower back. TENS is thought to work as the electrical pulses stimulate nerves and block pain messages to your brain
This creates a tingling feeling. You can control the strength of the current yourself. Many people find a TENs machine very beneficial.

However, they aren’t usually available in hospitals, so you will need to hire or buy one before labour. You’ll also need to know how to set it up and where to put the pads – don’t worry, it’s really easy!

Skin to Skin

As a partner, you can also have baby skin-to-skin with you. Remember the camera for those early pictures!

Extra Comfort Measures

Extra comfort measures are small things, but they make a big difference in labour….
A cold flannel for the face or a cold water mist can feel wonderfulLip balm – it sounds strange, but labour is hard work, and the lips can get dryA hair band – again, it’s a small thing, but you’d be surprised at how many people get irritated by loose hair.
A Battery-operated handheld fan provides a cool reviving breeze if the birth room is warm.

It would be a good idea for you to pack the labour bag, so you know where everything is when it’s needed.

Practical things you can do for yourself

Car Park

Understand the car park, where you are going and how to get there. Be aware that in the middle of the night you may need to be buzzed in, so find out how this works.

Labour Bag

Take yourself a labour bag with a spare T-shirt and some toiletries to freshen up with. It’s probably going to be a long day, and maybe a long day and night.
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