Who to have with you during the birth

Having someone to support you during labour and birth can be helpful. It may also reduce the need for pain relief.

Who you have with you at the birth is your choice – it may be your baby’s father, your partner, your whānau, a friend, a student midwife or a combination of these. Here are some tips for things to talk about with your support person/birth partner before the birth, and how they can support you during labour and birth.

Before the birth

Whether you choose your baby’s father, your partner, your whānau or a friend to be your support person, the most important thing that they can do is just be with you. Your support person may be nervous or worried about what’s expected of them during labour and birth, especially if they have never been at a birth before. Going to classes together can help your support person to know what to expect during labour and birth.

It helps to talk to your support person about your birth plans and the things that you would prefer to do and not do, so that they can support you in your decisions. It can also help to go through your birth plan together. 

During labour and birth

During labour and birth your support person can:

  • keep you company and help to pass the time in the early part of labour – eg, they could go for a walk with you
  • hold your hand, wipe your face and give you sips of water and small pieces of food
  • massage your back and shoulders, help you to move about or change position, and do anything else that helps
  • comfort you as your labour progresses and your contractions get more intense
  • remind you how to use relaxation and breathing techniques, perhaps breathing with you if it helps
  • support your decisions, such as the way you have chosen to manage/cope with your labour pains
  • help you to explain to the midwife or specialist doctor what you need – and the other way around – which can help you to feel more in control of the birth process
  • tell you what’s happening as your baby is being born, if you can’t see what’s going on.

Your support person may also be able to ‘catch’ the baby as they are born and cut the umbilical cord – talk to your midwife (or specialist doctor) about this. Your support person should also be there to support you during the first few hours after baby is born.

Related website

Tips for your birth partner – NHS Choices (UK)
How your birth partner can support you during labour and birth.

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