Birthing partners and birth support

Having a birthing partner present can make a woman feel supported in labour, so it is always good to plan ahead. Read about how a birth partner can help in pregnancy.

A birthing partner is someone who is on hand during the birth of your baby to give you anything you need – encouraging words, sips of water or maybe a snack, or just a quiet, comforting presence. You may want to mention in your birth plan that you want a birthing partner to be present.

Birth partners can also support you physically:

  • Massaging your shoulders (although during the birth, some women may decide they don’t want to be touched).
  • Helping you into positions that you have practised in the lead-up to having your baby.
  • Reminding you to breathe slowly and calmly through contractions.

They are on hand to listen and support you if you need to make decisions in labour, and they can ask your midwife questions to help clarify your options at a time when you may be preoccupied with labour.

Finding the right birth support

Women do not always have one-to-one support from midwives who can give them continuous care during their pregnancy and birth. Birthing partners can be the constant presence which many women find invaluable during birth.

Many different people can be birth supporters including dads, other relations, friends, doulas or NCT Doulas. If you are going to be a partner to someone who is having a baby, you might like to read our tips for birth partners and the guide to labour.

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about having a baby, labour and life with a new child.

NCT Doulas provide women, and their partners, with skilled physical and emotional assistance, as well as up-to-date knowledge, information and encouragement to help them have the type of labour and birth they would most like. NCT Doulas are all qualified professionals who have completed a nine-month course, developed by NCT in partnership with the University of Worcester, which is a recognised Doula UK course.

Doula UK provides information about doula services in the UK.

NHS choices offers tips for birthing partners and advice on preparing a birthing plan.