Birthing partners can provide emotional and physical support and help the pregnant person by listening to their needs and preparing with them before labor.

A birthing partner may be the baby’s or pregnant person’s parent, friend, partner, or relative. They may support someone giving birth, including helping prepare before labor and keeping them company during labor.

This article provides an overview of birthing partners and seven tips for partners to follow.

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If someone decides to have a birthing partner, they may be able to provide support, comfort, and encouragement during their labor.

Having someone present during the process may lead to a better birth experience for the pregnant person. While this may be relevant for some, it may not be true in all birthing experiences.

It is advisable to speak with an obstetrician and midwife for advice and support.

Studies from 2023 found that having the pregnant person’s partner present during childbirth is linked to low intervention birth and a more positive birth experience.

Below are seven tips for birthing partners to follow.

A birthing partner may help a pregnant person prepare in advance for birth.

For example, the National Health Service (NHS) suggests they may help write the birth plan or be aware of it to provide the right support during labor.

The NHS discusses that it may also be helpful for the birthing partner to attend antenatal classes. This will give them information on:

The NHS also provides the logistical help a birthing partner can provide, such as:

  • best routes and journey times to hospitals or birth centers
  • best routes to avoid speed bumps or traffic
  • familiar with parking payments or permits
  • water, snacks, or anything a person may need when traveling

According to the NHS, a birthing partner can support a pregnant person during labor by:

  • holding their hand
  • wiping face
  • keeping them hydrated
  • massaging back and shoulders
  • helping move
  • changing position
  • providing support if they need to lean or sit differently

The 2023 research found that having the partner stay with the pregnant person the whole time during birth had the strongest positive effect.

Birthing partners can also provide support during birth by helping focus on something during contractions, for example:

Birthing partners can also be there for the person throughout the birthing experience and help pass the time during the early stages of pregnancy.

This may also be particularly important if a person has longer labor hours and needs someone to keep them company.

The NHS also emphasizes the importance of providing support as a person’s labor progresses and contractions strengthen.

This support may include:

  • being comforting
  • giving reassurance
  • using words of encouragement

A 2023 study found that a close person present during birth can provide support and reduce the likelihood of interventions such as epidurals. In addition, their presence increases the likelihood of a positive birth and is strongly associated with well-being.

Read more about natural birth vs. epidural.

A birthing partner may also help explain to the midwife what a pregnant person wants and communicate their needs. This may help the pregnant person to cope better with their pregnancy.

The NHS also discusses how birthing partners can remind a pregnant person to use relaxation and breathing techniques. This may also help them to breathe together during contractions and labor.

They can also tell them what is happening as the baby is born, if this helps the pregnant person.

A birth partner may also be able to cut the umbilical cord, if possible. A midwife can advise on this.

According to the NHS, being aware that birth plans often change at the last minute is helpful for both the birthing partner and the pregnant person. This can help them adapt in the moment, depending on the birthing experience.

It may be helpful for the birthing partner to support the pregnant person’s decisions, such as pain relief options, even if these differ from what was in the original birth plan. It is important to adapt to any changes to birth plans, as they often happen at the last minute.

Some pregnant people may choose to have a birthing partner present with them throughout their pregnancy and also during their labor.

Having someone present during the process may lead to a better birth experience, such as low intervention births, and help with their psychological well-being.

Birthing tips include preparing with a pregnant person in advance, such as helping with a birth plan or attending antenatal classes.

Birthing partners can provide continuous physical and emotional support during labor. They can keep the pregnant person hydrated and ensure they are in the right position. They can also offer words of encouragement and reassurance.

It is also helpful for them to provide company during labor to help pass the time and listen to their needs. They can communicate requirements with a midwife to ensure the person receives the appropriate care. A birthing partner can help the pregnant individual with their breathing, especially during labor, and inform them of what is happening during the birth.

Finally, the birth partner may be able to adapt to any last-minute changes to the birth plan, such as pain relief options.