In Ireland the typical scenario is that a woman has one birthing partner but would you consider two?
Hands up who would have liked to have had more than one birthing partner!
There are certain people in our lives that offer us certain things. Your mother might be really good at keeping you calm while your husband or partner could have that uncanny ability to just know what you need before you even realise you need it.
However, in Ireland the typical scenario is that a woman is permitted to have one birthing partner in the maternity hospital. For most women it tends to be their partner. But not always. I have come across women who have chosen to bring a sibling, a friend or a parent. The reasons for this vary. Sometimes a partner is no longer present in the woman's life. Other times the partner just might not be the best person to assist her in this experience.
So, what makes a good birthing partner? Is it someone who is well-read on the medical principles involved? Or someone who is good at massage? A good listener? Someone who is a confident speaker? Someone who is not put off by bodily fluids and the more gory parts of giving birth? In truth the person kind of needs to have a bit of everything really. Again, this is perfect world stuff.
For most women the most important thing is actually trust. Giving birth is one of the most intense experiences of a woman's life. It is emotionally and physically demanding and draining. There is a huge amount of fear involved and it usually stems from all that is so unknown. There is nothing a woman can compare the experience to and she needs someone who will calm her nerves and truly support her in every part of the experience.
Quite often a woman's birthing partner takes over and becomes the voice of the woman. She may have carefully devised a birthing plan and holds strong opinions and preferences. However in the midst of painful contractions she is not in a position to verbalise those wants and needs. A birthing partner is often considered an extension of the woman and someone whom she can trust. Someone who will speak up for her in a sense.
Feeling comfortable with your birthing partner is extremely important too. At the end of the day you are going to give birth no matter what happens but it makes a huge difference to be in the company of a person who will not ad any further stress or worry to the experience.
Written by Tracey Quinn, mummy blogger and staff writer at www.familyfriendlyhq.ie.
Check out her own blog at www.loveofliving.blogspot.ie