Who should I have in the room with me during Labour?

Answering this question is a tough one. The simple answer would be,

Whomever you feel most comfortable with.

But have you considered that whom you will be most comfortable with before labour may not necessarily be the same when you are actually in labour.

To give you an idea, before my first birth, I decided that I wanted my husband and Mum. I have a lot of trust for both of them and my mum had been through 5 births before, so, she was my one with the experience.

36 hours into the labour I realised I needed a support person who understood what I was thinking, what was going on and who could act decisively as an intermediary when it all went pear-shaped.

I’m a very lucky mum in that I survived my first birth and so did my son. We both recovered and have had the opportunity to grow to love one another very much.

But boy oh boy do I wish I’d had some sort of an idea of what I needed before I went into labour.

The reality is that, just like your ante-natal class will teach you, most births happen without complication and, in these cases, the midwife on hand, your partner and your mum are likely to be totally capable of providing the support you need.

However my birth was not entirely run of the mill, which meant that a combination of unfortunate circumstance and miscommunication led to unnecessary trauma. I came out of it feeling like a total failure as both a woman and a mother.

It started out, just little things, like on the day I went to hospital, it was packed to the rafters. The only staff member on the ward at the critical time in my labour was a beautiful but brand new only been working there for a week young midwife who had no idea of the hospital protocols and who was trying to assist four women in labour all by herself.

I was at a public hospital, but booked in as a private patient with my own obstetrician, who, in retrospect, was not the most personable of obstetricians.

Combine the overwhelmed new midwife with the uninterested obstetrician (note - this is not an attack on obstetricians. Many obstetricians are brilliant and I’ve experienced brilliant ones since!) and mix in a slightly complicated labour with a completely ignorant first time mother and you get a shambles of treatment that could have been handled much better.

So, when you’re thinking about who you want by your side when you give birth don't think just about whether or not you are comfortable with the person. Make sure to consider these too,

  • Yourself – Do you have a lot of experience with birth and people who have had babies?
  • Your partner. - Is he/she as clueless as you and likely to be overwhelmed by what you are going through, especially if complications arise.
  • Your friend or Mother – what were their births like, easy or complicated? What sort of experience do they have as a support person? How do they relate to your partner? How do they relate to medical staff?
  • The Midwife or Obstetrician you have been seeing - do you have good communication? Do you trust them and are they approachable? Will they be there throughout the entire labour?
  • Hiring a professional (e.g. doula)  – Do you feel like they know you enough? Do you trust them to do the talking for you when you can’t talk or are not sure what you want.

Most especially, if it wasn’t on your birth plan and you don’t understand why people are suddenly suggesting invasive procedures and you’re panicking, will someone in your birthing suite help you to get what you need without stressing you out?

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