A birth partner is simply a person who is supportive of you during your pregnancy and helps you with the practical aspects of your birth.
A good friend or family member can be good support, but sometimes it makes more sense to rely on professionals. This can happen if that person has:
- Experience working with pregnant women or delivering babies
- Experience in other areas that are helpful during pregnancy and labor
- Is available whenever you need them, even if they are unable to travel to meet up in person very often
Birth partners are usually untrained professionals, whereas midwives are the trained professionals in the room, but this isn’t always the case.
You should know that some midwives who are not certified can still be very skilled at delivering babies, and you can have confidence in them. Not everyone needs or wants to hire a birth partner.
Many pregnant women choose to have their partner present for their birth; others prefer to include their family doctor or midwife, and still, others choose to have a doula or birth assistant attend them instead.
Birth Partner Vs Midwife: What is the Difference?
Birth partners are often untrained professionals while midwives are trained to deliver babies, but what are the differences between birth partners and midwives?
Midwifery is a profession that focuses on the knowledge, skills, and communication necessary to deliver babies.
It is a hands-on profession that draws upon a broad range of occupations and experiences, including childbearing (which many midwives have experienced firsthand), science, philosophy, literature, mathematics, activism, and more.
As a result of all these collaborations over time, they have developed the practice and the art of trusting women with their bodies under medical supervision.
To become a licensed midwife in the US, you will need to be a registered nurse and attend an accredited midwifery school. You will also need to pass a national certification exam. You could choose to further your career and education by completing a DNP midwifery program and background check before you are allowed to deliver babies.
A Birth Partner
If you choose to have a birth partner (your partner, mother, friend, etc.) at your birth, too, this individual is unlikely to have the same level of training. Still, they may be able to provide better emotional and moral support than a relative stranger such as a midwife you have only just met.
They will be there simply so that you have someone to talk to and lean on during labor. It’s easy for a spouse or partner to run out of things to say, especially when evoking pain management techniques such as relaxation techniques and breathing exercises may not be comfortable for them (even if they are supportive).
What is A Doula?
A doula is a birth assistant that provides emotional and physical support during birth.
They can work alongside a doctor or midwife or work independently. A doula may help you
- Prepare physically for labor and delivery by providing nutritional advice and exercise suggestions.
- Plan for the next phase of your life as a new mother by organizing baby clothes, arranging childcare, etc.
- Deal with any issues that could complicate the labor, such as medical situations or being unable to find the right position for you to give birth comfortably in.
Unlike a birth partner, many professional doulas do have some medical training, but it should be noted that there is still a wide range of expertise amongst doulas.
Can Your Partner Be Your Birth Assistant?
If you have chosen not to hire a birth assistant, then it makes sense to ask your partner if they would like to be your assistant. While this is not required, it’s a great way for them to show support while also being there physically during the labor.
Your partner can be your birth partner, and for many women, having their partner with them during birth is a source of great comfort and emotional support during a difficult time.
What Qualities Should A Birth Partner Have?
There are many qualities a good birth partner should have, but the most important is that they can be trusted.
You don’t want to rely on someone you may not completely trust to do something as important as delivering your baby, so it makes sense that you would want to find someone expert in childbirth and who believes in natural parenting methods.
Someone who is nonjudgmental and patient would also be a good fit as you will be relying on them to listen to you and give you advice.
If you have any doubts about your partner’s ability to help you during labor, then it may make sense for them to travel with a more experienced birth assistant.
A doula can provide the emotional support that your partner cannot, and they can deal with the pain more effectively than a birth partner. As a result, your chances of going through labor naturally are greater than if you choose an experienced birth assistant instead of someone less experienced (no matter how much support they give).
When preparing for your child’s birth, whether it’s your first or fifth child, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with who is at your birth.
It is highly recommended that you have a fully medically trained midwife or doctor to oversee the birth because they are highly trained to handle medical situations in the best way possible.
Having a professional birth assistant like a midwife or doula will help facilitate the natural process of labor and delivery and provide you with emotional support if needed. Your spouse, partner, or friend can be at your side too, but it’s not recommended that you have them deliver your baby unless they are a professional midwife or doula.
As with everything, you should get what works for you and feels comfortable – remember that hiring a professional can improve the quality of your birth.