10 Must Dos For Your Birth Partner
- Oct 15, 2019
- & Amelia
My Partner had the skills to support me both physically and emotionally during my birth, he learnt them through our birthing course. Does your partner know how to support you? Maybe? Not too sure? Get them to keep reading.
My Birth partner was very supportive when I suggested we do a hypnobirthing course as he knew absolutely NOTHING about birth. He’d never changed a nappy and hadn’t held a baby since the birth of his little cousin roughly 15 years earlier. After the course he felt prepared and confident in his ability to support me throughout my birth. He also had the skills to support me both physically and emotionally in the way I wanted to be. This is key to a wonderful birth.
Quite often men change the dynamic of the birthing space. Many birth workers and midwives believe this is because many men feel most purposeful when they provide practical help or are able to ‘fix’ things. This mindset makes it emotionally difficult to support the person they love as they are experiencing labour and birth. Birth is raw, it’s emotional and it pushes women to their limits. As women we need to move through all these processes to birth our babies and if our birth partner doesn’t understand what the certain stages of labour look like - and how their partner may be and act - they can often feel lost and useless. This is not a good place for anyone, so your partner needs to be ready and confident to support you in the way you need them to. My ‘must do’ birth list provides useful tips and task that a birth partner can confidently and easily do.
1.Support starts in pregnancy
Get Involved right from the beginning of pregnancy by learning about what is happening to your partner’s body and how your baby is growing and developing. Ask questions if you are unsure of anything and try to attend as many pre natal appointments with her as possible.
Being caring, loving and attending to her needs is also important. This can come in the form of massages to help with relaxation, helping out with housework and spoiling your partner when you can. Giving her orgasms also releases oxytocin - the love hormone needed for birth. It strengthens the bond between you both and increases blood flow to the baby.
2.Be a walking and talking birth plan
Talk to her about what kind of birth she wants. This could include going over things such as birth environment, pain relief options, location, extra support people, handling unexpected situation and chatting about what things are going to make her feel safe and supported during birth. You should also discuss post natal care for you baby. For example would your partner like immediate skin on skin contact with bub, will she be breastfeeding and will your newborn be receiving Vitamin K and Hep B injections?
Apart from learning the contents of the birth plan back to front so you can advocate for and support your partner, it’s also a great idea to bring a few copies so you can hand them out to the midwifes/nurses on staff.
3.In the early stages of labour encourage her to listen to her body
When labour surges have started but are not consistent, help her respond to what her body is telling her. Keep her hydrated and encourage her to eat if she is hungry. This may be a good time to rest if she feel tired or alternatively go for a walk if she feels a bit restless. It’s also a great time to remind her that she is loved, that you are there for her you have full confidence in her abilities.
4.Recognise active labour and the birthing phase
Active labour begins when the surges form a pattern and become more frequent and intense. This is the time to call the midwife / hospital / doula / obstetrician and provide them with an update. Make sure you know where all the numbers are to avoid any extra stress.
5.Stay calm and assist with breathing
Encourage her to breathe through the contractions and remain calm. She will mirror your anxiety so be sure to keep your composure. If you have to move to a hospital or birthing centre help her to the car and ensure she is comfortable in the seat. Drive slowly and gently talk her through the surges as they arise. Remind her to breathe and most importantly that with each contraction her body is bring you both closer to meeting your precious new addition.
6.Set up her birth environment
How to create a comfortable and homely birth environment should be discussed when you create your birth plan. Steps could include helping to unpack a bag, having food and drink within easy reach or setting up music or birthing MP3s in the room. Preparing a bath may also be necessary if you’re planning to have a water birth.
7.Keep her comfortable
Providing comfort to your partner can be both physical and emotional. Offering words of gentle encouragement is a great place to start. You should also encourage her to go to the toilet, move around the room and ensure she stays hydrated and help keep the hair out of her face. She may also enjoy massage - especially on the lower back during contractions.
8.Offer support if the labour slows down
If labour slows it may be because her body needs a time out or something has increased her stress. Once anxiety increases our bodies oxytocin levels decrease so it’s important to help build her levels back up. This can be achieved through laughter, kissing, nipple and clitoral stimulation, massages and warm baths. If it’s an issue with energy or the position of the baby, encourage her to eat something or move around. A good dance or walk may help to get things moving again.
9. Hold her heart and hand in the final stages
When your partner reaches the stage where she wants to push be her personal cheerleader. Hold her hand and tell her that she’s got this. She may want a cold press placed on her face and neck to stay cool or a hot press placed on her vagina to help prevent tearing. If she asks to leave - this is completely normal! Remind her what an amazing job she is doing and how close she is to meeting her beautiful new baby.
10. Provide postnatal support
During the weeks post birth your partner’s body is still healing. Doing the washing, housework and shopping, is a great way to support her. Encouraging her to sleep when the baby does or offering to take bub for a walk so she can rest is another idea. Emotional support is important too. Remind her that she is doing a great job and that you will be there, for her and your newborn, every step of the way.
If you would like to learn more about how to best support your partner during the birthing experience you can purchase my Essential Toolkit for a Wonderful birth, which includes 57 tips for birth partners. https://www.wonderbirthing.com.au/wonder-services/essential-toolkit
Module 4 is Birth partner preparation and includes a 25 min video of teaching birth partners support skills, a workbook and of course a cheatsheet :)