Being a birth partner is an awesome privilege and many birth-partners-to-be want to know what they can do to best support their partner, wife or friend in labour.

Here are some of the ways women have shared on this forum that their birth support partner helped them.

- Simply physically being present. Many women talk about how helpful it was just to know that their birth partner was there in labour. You don't have to say anything or do anything (indeed, some women do not want to be spoken to or touched during the labour) but when the birthing woman's eyes meet yours; be there for her. As Mother Teresa once said 'Let there be a kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile....Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well.'

- Spend lots of time in the later stages of pregnancy understanding the pregnant woman's birthing hopes and also what she would not want to happen. Talk in detail about how she would like to birth in the ideal situation and also discuss what she would want to happen if the labour took an unexpected route. You can be the birthing woman's advocate in labour. When she does not feel like talking you can clearly communicate her wishes to the midwives and doctors.

- Arm yourself with knowledge. Read up on birthing. Attend hypnobirthing classes together or other antenatal classes. Read positive birth stories. Talk about birth with the woman you will be supporting. Research and then research some more. The more knowledgeable you are the better you will be able to support the wishes of the birthing woman in labour and the more likely it is to be a positive birth experience.

- Be practically helpful. Respond to what the birthing woman is communicating to you; both verbally and non-verbally. For example, if she is covering her eyes during the contractions then dim the lights or provide a cover for her to put her head under (many woman need a private space in birth in order to 'go within themselves' and relax their body when a contraction comes). Make sure she has drinking water within easy reach and the background music or affirmations playing that she wants. Keep outside distractions to a minimum. Quietly close doors. Keep a check on the temperature of the birthing pool water as well as the room temperature. These little things can make a world of difference in labour.

We wish all of our pregnant forum members, and their birth support partners, positive birth experiences.

Please do share any useful experiences you have for birth partners here too.