My birth team: What is the job of a birth assistant?
Your birth team will be an important part of your birth experience. The people you choose to have around you during your birth will be there to support you and encourage you through a very intimate, emotional, and incredible experience. Many expectant parents have spent time learning about the different people that can make up a birth team, such as a Midwife, Obstetrician, Labor and Delivery Nurse, or Doula, but one you might not have considered yet for an out-of-hospital setting is the Birth Assistant.
Let’s discuss the main duties of a Celebrate Birth birth assistant so you can get to know your birth team better!
Birth assistants do exactly what their name implies: assist the midwife and act as an extension of her during appointments and at the births. The assistants meet with the expectant mothers at their clinic appointments to take their vital signs and draw any labs that have been requested by the midwife. Birth assistants also spend this time talking with the patients informally about the typical pregnancy symptoms they might be experiencing, and they make notes to let the midwife know if there is something in particular that should be discussed further. While much of the birth assistant’s role is focused on the clinical aspects of care, one of the best parts of the job is getting to know the clients on a more personal level. Each one of our assistants find so much joy in being able to support our clients during their pregnancy!
Helping the Midwife
When a client is in labor, the on-call midwife will contact the birth assistant who is also on call that day. Once the assistant arrives at the place of delivery, usually around the time the client is near the pushing stage, she will help with charting the progress of the labor and help the midwife prepare for the delivery. The birth assistant provides the midwife with any supplies that are needed (for the delivery, suturing, newborn exam, etc.), helps to freshen up the mom after the delivery (with bath, change of clothes, and new bedding), and prepares the mom for discharge when the time comes for the family to return home. Birth assistants learn to be incredibly in tune with the midwife at each delivery so that they can anticipate her needs before she even has to ask for a helping hand.
Birth Assistant vs. Doula
Some people assume that a “birth assistant” might also act as a doula would. However, it’s important for expectant parents to understand that the assistant’s primary role is to assist the midwife in the clinical tasks related to advanced labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. Birth assistants can help the laboring mother with certain comfort measures as well, but if a client would like professional birth support throughout her labor, someone other than her partner who dedicates their time to help her stay calm and comfortable, we would recommend that she consider hiring a doula.
Being a birth assistant is deep soul work. All of our assistants have a heart for service and compassion for our clients. Over the course of their pregnancy, our clients truly become part of our Celebrate Birth family, and it is such an honor for us to be present at their birth. If you have more questions about the role of a birth assistant at Celebrate Birth, send us a message!