Building Your Birth Team: Who Will Be With You When You’re In Labor?

Image Source: IStock photo via Rebecca Webb

Choose a birth team that will help your birth be a positive experience. Image by asiseeit

Whether you are planning a medicated birth or a natural birth, it is important to think through your birth team – they’ll provide you with much-needed emotional and physical support during the birth of your child. Your team’s experience, and the ways they can aid you through the labor and childbirth process are priceless.

Birth Team Members: Choose Them Wisely

From medical care to labor support, choose your birth team members wisely.

Caregiver: There is a good chance that you have already chosen your caregiver – the obstetrician or midwife who will deliver your baby and care for you throughout your pregnancy. Don’t forget to interview your pregnancy health care provider before you choose. Make sure you feel comfortable asking him or her questions, and that you don’t ever feel judged for sharing the wishes you have for your birth experience.

Support Person: Another important team member is most often a spouse or partner. Have a serious conversation with your support person about how much you want them involved, and how they want to be part of your birth. What part or parts of the birth do they think they can or cannot handle? What parts do you not want them around for? Talk about expectations for birth from both your perspective and their perspective. Write all your questions and expectations down so you can share these with your caregiver or a professional support person like a doula.

Doula: Research published by the University of Minnesota in the American Journal of Public Health shows that having a doula present results in a lower c-section rate, as well as reduced use of pain medications. Not only that but you have a personal birth coach to gain informational support, emotional support, and physical comfort measures. Most doulas will be willing to talk with you by text, email, or phone anytime you have a question, and then will be on call for you once you are full term. In a doula, you will also have an advocate that works for you who is not the hospital staff, so that you have balanced information regarding the risks and benefits of each procedure.

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Massage Therapist: Another support person that can be helpful during your labor and birth experience is a massage therapist. You can just imagine the benefits of professional-level back massage during labor. Ahhh….  Although this isn’t technically necessary for your birth team, it is nice when resources will allow.

Mom: If you have a great relationship with your mother, she can be another helpful support person. Since Mom has been the one to care for you in the past, don’t overlook having her by your side if you feel as though she can help calm you or help your focus.

Labor Nurse: In the hospital, a non-optional part of your birth team are your labor nurses. If you are in a large-enough hospital, always feel the freedom to ask for a different nurse if you don’t mesh with yours. Having a nurse in the room that you don’t like or feel comfortable with can sometimes hinder your labor, or ruin your experience. You also want to know that the nurse supports your birth choices as well – or at least that they won’t hinder your choices.

Birth Team Advocates

Your birth team is a very important part of your pregnancy/childbirth experience. Whether you’re giving birth at home or in a hospital, it’s most important to make sure that you feel completely comfortable with those whom you have on your team. Make sure they care for you, support you, and are advocates for you.


Katy Backes Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA, Rachel R. Hardeman, MPH, Laura B. Attanasio, BA, Cori Blauer-Peterson, MPH, and Michelle O’Brien, MD, MPH. Doula Care, Birth Outcomes, and Costs Among Medicaid Beneficiaries. (2012). Accessed April 22, 2013.

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  1. Interesting article. I think you left out another important possibility–your father. My daughter-in-law has a close relationship with her father and he has a calming influence over her, so when she chose the support team for the births of my two grandsons her team was my son and her father. One of my daughters is extremely shy and she wanted to be alone with her nurse. She wanted the family in the hallway, and the hospital allowed this, but she was firm about being alone with the nurse, who said she was very calm and didn’t make a sound. I think deep inside she knew that if she was alone she would be more comfortable and able to stay focused. My children’s father was my support team, and one of my girlfriends who was pregnant at the same time had nine people present when she had her child at home and she was perfectly comfortable with that situation. I’m glad that you emphasize thinking about this in advance, though. It’s important to think this through carefully. I was glad that my children were able to specify who would be in the room and that the hospital honored their requests so diligently. I have another friend, a single mother, who asked to be alone with the nurse. Her mother and sister-in-law kept trying to come into the room–they would push the door open and just walk in, repeatedly, and the nurse finally told them they had to wait in the cafeteria instead of the nearby waiting room. It might help to discuss how to talk to family members about your birth team and why it is important that only those members of your team are allowed in the room. If the talk takes place in advance this might prevent stressful situations during labor.


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