Birth is a physiological process that the human body carries out instinctively – without being told what to do – when safe and comfortable. That being said, why do you need a birth team? While a laboring person with a healthy pregnancy, healthy body, and healthy baby doesn’t need anyone in order to birth their baby, they can still benefit from the support and expertise of their birth team. So who might you consider requesting to be present for your labor & birth, and why?
Medical Care Providers
Your medical care providers are the doctors, nurses, midwives, and birth assistants who attend your birth. These are the people who will be monitoring the physical well-being of you and the baby, and intervening when necessary. Their rate of intervention may vary based on their training, education, and comfort level in any particular circumstance. Depending on the location and style of birth you are planning you may choose, one, another, both, or neither. Consider where they attend births, what their philosophies are regarding birth, and if they will respect your birth wishes. Ask lots of questions when choosing your primary care provider.
While midwives and nurses may provide some comfort measures during labor and birth, their primary role is the physical wellbeing of the baby and birthing person. A doula is someone who is trained specifically in providing physical and emotional support, as well as information regarding birth. Their main role is to provide continuous support to the laboring person so that they can feel relaxed and at ease. Doulas can also be extremely helpful in guiding partners in how to be involved through the process and how to best support the birthing person. Almost everyone can benefit from having a doula for their birth. When choosing a doula, focus on finding someone who is supportive of your birthing choices and who you feel comfortable being around.
Most commonly, the partner (i.e. husband, wife, spouse) is present for the birth. When the relationship between the birthing person and their partner is healthy and strong, the connection they share can increase oxytocin production that eases and progresses the laboring process. However, some people approach birth as a single parent or in a circumstance where the partner is unable to attend the birth. One example is when a military family is expecting and the partner is deployed. If your spouse or partner cannot be present, or you do not want them present, consider who else you can support you during this time.
Some mothers dream about being there when their grandchildren are born. That doesn’t mean that every woman dreams of their mother or mother-in-law watching them give birth. Some people want their parents to be present and others don’t. If you are unsure whether to allow the grandparents in the birth space, consider the following:
- Do I want them there?
- How many visitors are allowed in my birth space?
- Will they be respectful of my birthing choices?
- Will they be helpful or a bother?
For parents who already have children, what to do with them during the birth might be a big question. Who is going to watch them? Will you send them to someone else’s house during the birth? Will/can they be present during the birth experience?
Some parents worry that it will be scary for their children to watch the birth, but often it has the opposite effect. While some preparation of what to expect is in order, seeing the power and beauty of birth can have a generational effect in reducing fear around birthing.
If you are planning to have your children present throughout labor and birth you may want to consider who will watch them and who will be supporting you. Some doulas provide sibling support, but you may prefer that your partner, a family member, or a friend fill this role.
Who Else Will Be At Your Birth?
Perhaps there is someone else who is very special to you that you want to be included in this transformational experience. If you are more modest, you may desire a smaller and more intimate birth team. If you are a family-centric person, you may want your parents, your in-laws, children, maybe a friend or aunt at the birth. Ultimately, you have the right to decide who you will share this sacred space with and you have the right to be respected in these choices.