As a birth partner you will witness the raw, intense and astounding miracle of birth. You will see one of the extremes of what the human body is capable. You will see the look on the mother’s face as she holds her baby for the first time. Perhaps you are about to become a daddy, or maybe you are the best friend or close relative of the mum-to-be. Whatever your reason for being assigned this role, you are no doubt wondering how to be a good birth partner.
Here are ten easy ways to be the perfect birth partner:
Know what she wants – during labour, the mum-to-be will be pretty focussed on getting the baby out. She may not be in the best frame of mind for processing medical information, or asking for further information from the healthcare provider. You need to do that for her. Find out in advance what her ideal birth is, and how far she would be willing to deviate from it. Obviously in a life or death situation, there may be little room for maneuver, but it’s best to be prepared going in. Make sure you voice her concerns during labour, because she may not be able to.
Back to school – attend the antenatal classes. These classes will usually offer a session, often facilitated by a healthcare professional, to explain the intricacies of childbirth. This will not only help you to mentally prepare for the labour room, but it will also give you ideas of how to help on the day.
Bag it up – it’s not just the mum who needs a hospital bag. From week 37, make sure you have a hospital bag packed and with you at all times. Keep it in the boot of your car for easy access. Your bag should include hygiene items, a change of clothes, a camera, and anything else you think you might need. Make sure you have coins in the bag to pay for parking at the hospital. You should also pack some items for the mother, for example massage balls or snacks.
Be accessible – if the mum-to-be is a week overdue, don’t switch your phone off and head into a three hour client meeting. Make sure she can reach you at all times.
Massage – massage is a great way to relieve aches and pains during labour. Massage also helps to keep the mum-to-be relaxed. There are plenty of massage techniques detailed online that may be useful during labour. Try them out in advance, and when you find one you both like, print off the details and pack them in your hospital bag.
Stay calm – they say dogs can smell fear, well so can labouring women. One look at your pale, tearful face will tell her all she needs to know. Stay calm, positive and supportive throughout the delivery. If you run into unforeseen problems, stay focussed on supporting the mum-to-be, and do not allow yourself to become panicked.
In it for the long haul – labour isn’t usually a quick process. First labours typically last between eight and 12 hours. While mum-to-be will be focussed on birth during this time, you may find yourself struggling to stay awake. Drink energy drinks, go for a quick walk around the hospital, do whatever you think will help you to stay awake and helpful during labour. Definitely don’t moan about how bored you are, or ask how long it will take!
Put up with it – if your usually sweet, kind wife has just told you where to shove it, ignore it. Don’t worry, she doesn’t really mean it. Some women find themselves angry during labour, and often this anger is directed towards the dad-to-be.
Pile on the praise – tell her how amazing she’s doing, how great her breathing is and how proud you are of her. Be affectionate and supportive, and respond to her cues.
Go with the flow – if she said absolutely definitely no way did she want an epidural, but is now begging for one, it could be because the pain is worse than she expected. Ask her a few times to be sure she really wants to change her plan, and then support her new decision.
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.