Role of the birth partner

A birth partner might be the baby’s father, your partner, a doula, a family member or friend.

Birth partners play an essential role throughout childbirth, from the antenatal period during labour and throughout the postnatal period.

There are lots of benefits to having a birth partner. There is even evidence that having a birth partner who provides continuous, one-to-one support, may help you cope better with labour and be happier with the birth experience.

Some birth partners may occasionally feel like a “spare part” during labour, however birth partners are a crucial part of the birth experience. Having a birth plan that details how the birth partner would like to be involved in the birth can assist the midwife to help the birth partner fulfil their role, helping them feel involved and included in the birth experience.

Some things to think of as the birth partner and to discuss with the person you are supporting:

Do you want an active role such as cutting the cord after the birth?

After baby is born, we recommend that baby be placed in skin-to skin contact with the birthing parent until the first feed. After this time, would you be interested in having skin-to-skin contact with baby?

Consider having the above as part of the birth plan and mentioning to the midwife.

As a birth partner, your role will be led by the person you are supporting.

During labour

  • They might want you to massage them or help them to move around and keep active, which helps baby to move down further into the birth canal and help labour to progress.
  • They might want you to comfort them and support their decisions. You can help to explain to the midwife or doctor what they need.

It helps to be prepared, so that when the time comes you feel that you know what you need to do.  To help you prepare

  • Have a discussion with the person that you are going to be supporting about what they might want you to do and what they have planned as part of their birth plan.
  • Plan the route to hospital/birth centre and which entrance to use at different times of the day or night
  • Know where the bag is that needs to go with you to Hospital and familiarise yourself with the contents so that you can find things quickly if you need them
  • Time the contractions – when they are coming regularly, every 3-4 minutes, you should phone the number provided by your midwife. Know where these numbers are.
  • You may need to speak to the midwife if the person you are supporting cannot. Explain clearly what symptoms they have.  The midwife will appropriately assess and advise whether it is time to make your way to the hospital or Birth unit, or whether the midwife needs to attend if you are having a home birth.
  • Be prepared, so that you can look after your needs too. Babies can be born quickly however some labours can last between 12-16 hours. Bring refreshments for yourself too, so that you are able to continue to support.
  • Bring a charger for your phone so that you are able to contact your family and friends when you need to
  • Have some loose change ready for car parking

The most important thing that you can do as a birth partner is just be there for them.

Support organisations

Proud 2b Parents is an inclusive organisation for all routes to parenthood. We are run by and deliver services for LGBT+ parents/ carers to be, LGBT+ parents/carers and their children living in Greater Manchester.

Proud 2b Parents doesn’t want any parents or carers to be to feel isolated, and fully understand that becoming a parent/ carer can be difficult. We offer a variety of activities for you and your little ones. Therefore get in touch and get connected, contact us on [email protected] or visit our website

LGBT Foundation offers a variety of services across Greater Manchester to anyone who identifies as LGBT. We want to make sure that all LGBT people are able to reach their full potential. We do this by reducing isolation, equipping you with skills, providing mental health support, and more. You can see a full list of our services on our website, and remember, we’re here if you need us.

Dad Matters is a Home-Start Project, based in Greater Manchester. Dad Matters works directly with Dads, helping provide information, advice, education and support for Dads through the antenatal period and beyond on what to expect at each stage, the important role they have in developing babies brain and how they can support their partner and be the attuned and caring parent they want to be. Dad Matters is also about being able to support dads with their mental health and helping them to understand why it’s important for their family. Dad Matters also supports dads to access services that they might need and that they might not usually consider.

Dad Matters offer monthly Dad Chats which are available online. Every Wednesday evening, 6pm on our Facebook page @dadmattersuk We talk about attachment mental health and accessing services, current maternity guidelines, and anything else involving dads, and encourage dads to watch live and join the conversation and ask questions or share their experiences. We also repost the videos on our YouTube channel for those who can’t watch live. 

Links and further information

NHS – What your birth partner can do

NCT – Planning the birth together

Baby Centre – The role of a birth partner

Emma’s Diary – A childbirth plan for dads and partners