How to be a BRILLIANT BIRTH PARTNER
This week it’s all about you, wonderful BIRTH PARTNERS, and the many things you can do and be, to support in birth and labour...Do not under-estimate how important and central to the birthing process your role is!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Birth partners you are the continuity of care, the protectors of birth bubbles, the defenders of caves, the oxytocin-boosters, the greatest advocates, the fierce supporters and devoted massage therapists. I hear it all the time: ”I could not have done it without him/her”.
Repack that hospital bag! So you know exactly where everything is when she orders you to fetch obscure items in labour and post birth.⠀⠀⠀
Try to be flexible and open-minded. She may want lots of affection and touch one minute and then push you away the next. She may use you as a human pillar, lean into you and hang from your neck…⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Know what she wants (and doesn’t want) in labour and birth. Set aside some time to discuss birth preferences and be prepared to take charge and have a chat with the midwife if her wishes are not being respected. Remember to bring a copy of your birth plan. Continuity of care in our current NHS maternity services often isn't possible and you will most probably have a different midwife for your antenatal appointments and birth (unless you have a home birth) so birth partners provide just that.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Look after yourself so you can look after her. It is so important. Pack lots of [separate] snacks and drinks for yourself, comfortable clothes and shoes, and spare change for the hospital car park. In early labour consider using that time to rest and preserve your energy, she will need you as the surges get more intense and closer together. ⠀⠀⠀
Ask her in advance how she would like to be supported and what she expects of you in terms of emotional, physical and practical support. ⠀⠀
You could be the first point of contact for any questions from the midwives during birth, to ensure she isn't unnecessarily disturbed and stays in her 'birthing bubble'. The ‘BRAIN’ acronym is a helpful one to remember to inform the sort of questions you may wish to ask when a new course of action is suggested and to ensure decisions are based on evidence and facts, rather than fear. ‘BRAIN’ stands for: What are the Benefits & Risks? Alternatives? What is my Instinct/gut telling me and do Nothing - pause.
Remind her to breathe during contractions and encourage her to use any breathing and relaxation techniques you have been practising. Doing the breathing yourself next to her will encourage her to mirror you (and keep you relaxed ☺️).
Have a chat in advance about how she would like her birth environment to be. You could think about it in terms of your 5 senses, Smell, Touch, Sight, Taste and Sound [check out the blog article on this]. In early labour, set up her little den of calm and relaxation at home, and then take that little nest with you to hospital. Think about how to keep her feeling safe and relaxed on the way to hospital and in the triage room.
Words of encouragement can make all the difference, especially as surges get more frequent and intense, and during Transition of labour when she may doubt her ability to go on. Help her stay motivated by telling her how much you love her, how well she is doing, and that she is safe. Don’t be offended if at times she asks for silence.
Encourage her to relax her jaw. Remember the saying - floppy jaw, floppy vagina! There is a mysterious connection between the jaw and pelvis, and releasing tension in the jaw ensures the pelvic area is relaxed and the muscles of the uterus work as they are designed to.
Be the point of contact for fielding calls, messages and visits from family and friends when the baby has arrived - there is always an over-eager aunt or granny threatening to come to the hospital before being formally invited...
Know your limits too and be clear if there are things that are outside your comfort zone (such as catching the baby or cutting the cord for example)
Hand stroking or a light back massage using the back of your fingers can feel really relaxing and comforting in labour.
And finally, a lot of the time, it is not necessarily about what you ‘do’, just being there - a supportive and reassuring presence is what she needs. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What's your best tip for birth partners? ❤️⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A big part of the hypnobirthing course is devoted to birth partners (it's my favourite part!). For more information get in touch.