By now you may have heard that not only is it nice to bring someone with you for support in labor and birth, but it's actually beneficial for your birth. Continuous labor support has been shown to increase your chance of having a "spontaneous" (without intervention) vaginal birth, and decrease the chance of needing a cesarean or pain medications. Continuous support also increases a person's satisfaction with their birth experience.
Imagine then, what could happen if you bring two people with you for support in labor! For people who hire a doula, two support persons are often the norm, with doula and partner/spouse or friend/family member attending birth together. For those who are not hiring a doula, consider how having two people, like your partner and a close friend, could improve your birth experience. In my experience as a doula and as someone who has given birth three times, I can tell you unequivocally that birth with two support people is better than birth with one.
Benefits of Two Support Persons at Your Birth
Continuous support - With two people at your side, you can be sure to have truly continuous support. That means during bathroom breaks, meals, and any needed rest, you will always have one person on shift when the other is out.
Teamwork - Doulas and partners make a great team. Likewise, so can your sister and spouse. Whether it's helping each other out in a double hip squeeze or one person providing counter pressure while the other helps you focus your breathing during contractions -- optimal labor comfort is best accomplished as a team effort.
Extra eyes and ears - Anytime you're in a situation that involves processing a lot of information at once, it helps to have more than one person present to listen to, remember, and help digest information. This is especially true when you are in labor -- a time when most people focus inward and on the hard work of labor, making it more difficult to access the "thinking" or analytical part of the brain.
Different perspectives - Your partner knows you differently than a doula or a good friend. Your doula will know more about birth. A friend or family member may know more about some of your preferences than your partner. When these people come together, they can help offer different perspectives, which can ultimately provide you with more complete and customized support.
Alllll the needs met - You need your lower back rubbed and someone to hold the mini fan you brought in your face at the same time? When you bring two people with you in labor, the possibilities are near limitless. One person can be in charge of maintaining the room environment while the other person is in charge of supporting you in your coping needs. Or, one person gets water from down the hall while the other person helps fill the tub. Whatever your needs may be (and there will be plenty!), your support team will be able to answer the call.
As you think about and plan for your labor and birth, think through how you might wish to be supported in labor and what that could look like. Taking a good childbirth class in your third trimester will help you better understand what a laboring person's needs are, how to prepare, and the many options for optimal comfort. Some people end up not wanting help, touch, or close support during labor and birth -- and that's ok. It's hard to know in advance what you will want in the moment.
As you plan for support, consider your options and plan for full support. Even if you end up "hands off" in labor, your support team can easily manage "behind-the-scenes" needs that will benefit your experience.