There is no need for birthing partners to feel useless or helpless during child birth!
There are plenty of things partners can now be doing apart from just cutting the cord to help the birthing mother increase Oxycontin and endorphin levels and keep her calm, focused and happy.
If you want to be a A* birth partner read on…..
Knowledge & Preparation. You know she will have contractions right?, but do you actually know what a contraction is? Reading a birth book in the labour ward just won’t cut it. If you truly want to help and feel involved in the process then preparation starts during early pregnancy. Attending appointments, going along to hypnobirthing classes or NCT groups, discussions and reading literature that ties in with the mothers preferred birth experience will help you gain a true understanding of the process and what will be helpful on the big day.
Flexibility. Be ready to adapt! In the run up to the birth, you not only have to be physically flexible with work and social commitments etc. but mental flexibility is also key. Situations and plans change. She may not get the home water birth she dreamed of, or perhaps her hospital of choice, it’s your job to reassure her, not dwell on the negative but to focus instead on the positives so these changes happen smoothly.
And if she doesn’t want that back rub you’ve been practicing, or the cheese sandwich you’ve lovingly prepared be flexible and don’t take it personally!
Communication. Prepare to be her primary advocate. Be her eyes, ears and mouth. If you have done your homework you will be in a great position to help her communicate what she wants, so she is free to focus on herself and the baby. There is no need to jump in and talk for her but support her by knowing the birth plan and her wishes and don’t be afraid to ask questions on her behalf. It’s your turn to step up and be brave.
Stay calm. Whatever is going on around birthing mother it is very important she can rely on you to be a familiar and constant, calm presence. Being stressed about who’s feeding the dog or picking up Child #1 is not helpful during labour and it’s your job to foresee and deal with these situations calmly and quietly so she doesn’t have to.
Be there. Not just physically but emotionally. Labour can take time so take steps to fill this time positively. Talk, reminisce, laugh, do some relaxation together, play games or do a crossword, whatever floats your boats. But remember that when we engage ‘virtually’ we disengage with reality so follow her lead, if she is not on her phone put yours down, be positive and be completely there.
Encouragement works wonders! When a runner is nearing the end of a race a cheer will keep them going and the same applies to birth. When a birthing mother experiences kindness, love and attention she increases her levels of happy chemicals which makes birthing easier. So there is no better time than labour to reassure her how well she is doing, how proud you are of her, how strong she is and how much you love her! Don’t be over gushy and keep it sincere so she knows you mean it.
Practical help. There are many practical exercises a birthing partner can do which can be super dooper helpful during labour. These include Anchoring, massages, and distraction and relaxation techniques, all tools a good hypnobirth practitioner can help you with. Spend time beforehand practicing the techniques you both like together so that by the time the big day comes they are familiar and come naturally to you both.