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Birth Team who can support you?

During your prenatal care you choose who will support you during pregnancy. At the end of pregnancy, you might have the chance to include some more people in your birth team. This can include your partner, doula, family members and others.

Preparing your partner for birth
Most partners are expected to attend the birth of their child and to support their partner as she gives birth. The pressure is on, but do most partners even really know what is expected of them? The best way to help them prepare is to attend a prenatal preparation class that includes specific information and hands-on practice for partners. It’s also helpful if partners can get to know (and trust) all your care providers (your midwife or doctor) and for your care providers to get to know you and your partner well before birth. Another great way to help them prepare is to attend an expectant parent support group or to have a trusted friend who attended a birth in the same setting you are planning to give birth in talk him through the process and give him all the “tips and tricks” he needs. Just be sure that the person is trustworthy, honest and open, and that his advice helps your partner feel confident about attending the birth.
If your partner doesn’t want to be at the birth, respect that and thank him for being honest. Ask him to support you in finding a birth partner that you are comfortable with, like a doula or good friend.

What is a doula?
Climbers hire Sherpas to guide them as they climb Mount Everest - experts who know the terrain, know the locale and provide them with support as the climbers make their way to the top. Doulas are similar - they have special training to give pregnant families emotional and physical support as well as information as they need it before, during and after birth. Doulas are trained to provide emotional and physical support and do not have any clinical duties, so they are not midwives or nurses or doctors. Their role is to be with you, provide consistent, continuous support, respect and encouragement through shift changes and changes in healthcare providers and helps you achieve your birth plan.
Some doulas also provide postpartum support, which means they can come by your home after you give birth to help you with breastfeeding, watch the baby as you take a nap or help prepare you meals. Having a doula during pregnancy reduces your chances of preterm labour, decreases your need for pain relief and lowers your chances of having a caesarean or instrumental birth. If doula care were a machine or medication, every hospital and birth centre would use them.

Does a doula replace my partner?
Absolutely not! Your doula supports both you and your partner during labour, birth and postpartum. She helps hold the space for both of you and frees your partner up to be able to be fully with you while knowing that the doula is also there to help. Together they can make the perfect support team. In fact, dads are usually the ones who are most grateful for having a doula to support them and their partner at birth.

Can my sister (mom, friend) be my doula?
Yes and no. Although you might want your mum or sister with you as you give birth, they may not know a lot about the birth process and may be too emotionally involved to be able to support you like a doula would. Also, there is an added benefit to having a neutral third person with you who knows you and your preferences but isn’t a relative as part of your birth team.

Other people at my birth
You might want to include a birth photographer or other practitioner in your birth team. Provided there is room in the place you are laboring that should be ok, but ask ahead to make sure. These people should be aware that you are inviting them into your personal space and that their role is to be unassuming, quiet and respectful to you at all times. No matter what, do not feel pressured to include anyone in your birth team, and if you feel they are disturbing you ask them to wait in the waiting room until you call them in again. It’s your birth, and your rules.