The room is dark and quiet. Martin sits on the birth ball. Sara is in the pool on her knees. She is leaning on the edge of the pool held by her partner writes Cathy Williams

Martin holds her in his arms, wrapping around her shoulders, kissing her head, whispering the occasional encouragement, or something. I cannot hear.

He has not moved from her side for the last four hours. His focus is totally on her. When the music ends Martin calmly reaches one arm up for the phone and restarts it, his eyes hardly leaving Sara. The midwives are stood at the opposite side of the pool, grinning. I am their doula. I sit in the corner, nearby; if they need me they need only turn their head towards me.

Martin is Sara’s rock. Through the waves of labour she clings to him. Earlier she was standing arms around his neck, rocking, as if slow dancing. Then in the bathroom with her on all fours, just the two of them. And now in the pool; they carry on the dance of labour. His presence protects her, strengthens her, enables her to let go into herself. Quiet and strong. He is just there. That is what she needs him to be.