It is often joked by our birth partners that they feel useless during the labour stages of childbirth. I mean, if you're the one doing all the work in getting this baby out, what can they possibly do? The answer is lots.
This idea of your partner's lack of involvement couldn't be further from the truth and can be quite discouraging for a parent who wants to be actively involved in the birth of their child.
What can your birth partner do?
Here I'll discuss the different things your partner can do to help you during labour and in bringing your baby into the world.
Create a cheat sheet together, with your partner, that can remind them in the moment of your birth preferences. Include little reminders of things such as providing water, encouraging words to say and appropriate questions to ask your caregivers. Labour can be a time of high anticipation and excitement. A little list of reminders can be helpful if needed.
I can not underestimate the importance of a birthing mother receiving encouragement and reassurance from their trusted and supportive birth partners. In a time when a woman's mind is so focused on everything going smoothly, comments such as "you're going so well", "you're going to meet your baby soon", "everything is good and the baby is happy" can be so helpful in keeping the birthing mother relaxed, allowing her body to birth calmly. I think it's also important to note that the type of reassurance can be different for every woman. Sometimes a gentle back rub or sympathetic smile, instead of words, is all some birthing mothers want.
2. Setting the scene
Bright lights, lots of talking and a constant reminder of time passed are all things that work against a birthing mother and the job she needs to do. Asking for the lights to be dimmed (or off), some peace and quiet and removing the clock from the wall are ways in which your birth partner can assist in setting the perfect space for a calm birth.
3. Physical Support
All women birth differently based on their preferences and what makes them feel comfortable. Light touch massage, a cold face cloth and strong shoulders to lean on are all physical ways your partner can help in keeping labour moving a long while also ensuring the birth mother is comfortable during the process.
4. A Crisis of Confidence
At one point or another, almost all birthing mothers reach a point in labour when they truly believe they can not go on. This is what we refer to as a crisis of confidence and it usually happens shortly before the baby arrives. Being reminded of this at the time can give a woman the reassurance she needs to push through and reestablish a 'rhythm' to see it through to the approaching 'finish line'.
5. Being an advocate for your birth preference
When labouring and trying to remain relaxed, its not always possible for the birthing mother to communicate or remember the birthing preferences she established prior to labour. A birthing partner is usually the person who is closest to the mother and knows her better than anyone else. When suggestions are put forward from your carers or a special circumstance arises, asking for time to discuss your options privately is something simple you can do. This ensures the birthing mother is happy in the direction her labour is going and whether she wants to stick to her written preferences or take another path in the moment.