This one is for you birth companions.
Many birth companions move into labor freaked out and clueless as to how to best support their partner, even if they had previously felt calm, prepared, and ready to see all the fluids.
When birth becomes real it is common for not just mom, but her partner as well, to freeze, forgetting much of the wisdom they learned in childbirth preparation classes or all the books they crammed in their brains.
While birth doulas are excellent at thawing out mom and her companion, a doula is (unfortunately) not an option for all women.
If a doula will not be part of your birthing party (and even if he or she is), the following suggestions will help you ease your birthing partner’s discomfort throughout the journey into and through childbirth.
1. Join Them In Childbirth Preparation Classes
Be an active participant in the childbirth preparation classes your pregnant partner elects. Go to all the classes, pay attention, take notes, practice the tools provided with your partner, read the book or supplemental materials offered in the class, ask the instructor all your questions – be involved.
2. Anticipate Her Needs
Practice tuning into the needs of your partner now, so you’ll be more attuned to her needs during birth. Notice how she acts when she’s getting tired and offer her a snack, or a pillow.
Become aware of how she moves her body when she needs to pee and help her roll out of bed so she can clear that bladder.
Pay attention to your partner’s body language when she’s feeling physical discomfort and practice techniques like light touch massage, pressure point work, and assisting her into a more comfortable position to alleviate the discomfort.
Become an expert in your honey’s non-verbal signs of need, so you can anticipate those needs during birth, providing support before she even knows she’s in need of it.
3. Say Yes to Doing Less
Know that you don’t always have to be doing something to support your partner- sometimes, the best assistance is just holding her hand, closing your eyes, and creating a quiet and safe space for her to birth in peace.
If you’ve honed your ability to anticipate her needs, you’ll only be acting when you sense your partner needs you to act – in the interim times, just breathe and relax.
4. Silence Can be Golden
While some women desire a consistent stream of verbal encouragement, many women require silence (or mellow background music) to fully concentrate on breathing through their contractions.
Play around with this when your partner first moves into labor; watch her body language when you speak, then watch her body language when you sit in silence with her – when does she seem more relaxed?
Her tonal needs may change throughout labor, so stay tuned in to these needs, adjusting what is coming out of your mouth, or portable speaker, accordingly.
5. Make Her Pee, and Drink Water
These two gems could be the best things you do for your partner. As women move into the thick of labor, they can lose touch with signals from their bladder because their uterus is sending much stronger signals.
A full bladder can impeded the progress of labor, and amp up the discomfort, so regularly remind your partner to use the bathroom.
Dehydration during childbirth can lead to complications, but can easily be avoided. Ensure your lady has a steady stream of water entering her system, by consistently offering her water.
Because holding a bottle of water, and tipping it back, can be way too much to ask of a birthing woman, have a straw handy so you can hold the water receptacle in front of her face, put the straw in her mouth, and urge her to drink.
6. Pre-Clear Your Emotions
The emotions you’re exuding will be absorbed by your birthing partner- make sure you’re exuding the good stuff.
Ensure you’re moving into birth with a clear mind and heart by doing whatever you need to do to release your fears surrounding birth, and becoming a parent. Journal, meditate, see a therapist, have some heart to hearts with other parents you know – do whatever you need to do to ensure your “stuff” is cleaned out, or at least compartmentalized, before you move into the role of birth companion.
7. Be Her Advocate
You’re not in the birthing space to support the doctor, nurses, your mom, or even your self – you’re there to support the lady birthing a baby.
Talk over the birth plan with your partner a few weeks before the due date to ensure you fully understand her preferences, and why they’re important to her. She will likely need you to act as her advocate as many birthing women have trouble articulating their wishes.
You got this.
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