When preparing for birth it can be easy to assume that only the birthing person needs to prepare. After all, they are the ones who have deliver the baby right?…..Wrong!
Birth partners play a vital part in the birthing process. They act as an advocate, they are the ones that mum trusts the most and can really create the positive birth experience. If the birth partner is fully aware of the mechanics of birth, what to do at the different stages of labour, how to ask the right questions and knows the wishes of the birthing person, magic can happen.
Here are just a few ideas how birth partners support:
1) Get to know whats happening and when
It is really important that birth partners are familiar with the basics of how labour works. Not only will you able to offer the right support for mum at the right time but you will also be able to handle any twists and turns that happen along the way. Ask the right questions and speak on behalf of mum when things are in full flow. Make sure you attend an antenatal course with mum and fully immerse your self into its content.
During labour mum will need to concentrate in order to keep control of her breathing. There may be times when she gets overwhelmed and looses this rhythm. Have something ready for mum to use as an anchor which will help bring her back to being in control. This could be breathing with her, using visualisations, having a familiar smell close by that she likes. Anything that is going to help support her to stay in control.
In hypnobirthing we teach light touch massage. The light touch massage can be a lovely tool to use in order to stimulate Oxytocin. Birth partner can lightly touch mums bare skin on her back, shoulders and arms. The touch needs to be light enough to make the hair stand up. It can really help for mum to stay relaxed and feel calm and supported. When things ramp up a bit mum may experience discomfort in her lower back during surges. Birth partners can use the tens machine or use their hands to support the lower back area.
4) Physical support.
On TV we see a lot of women giving birth on their back in a bed. This is definitely not realistic and I wouldn’t recommend this position unless advised by your medical support. Most women naturally prefer to be up right in the early stages and nearer to the ground on all fours in active labour. There are lots of different positions that you can support mum with, check out these birth position flash cards to help you get familiar with how you can help on the day.
5) know mums wishes and pack the bag.
Make sure you know where everything is in the bag. You will need to get things out quickly in order to support mum. It helps to have a checklist to make sure you have everything in the bag ready. It will also help if you know mums wishes. Make a really detailed birth plan to help you and discuss this between the two of you. Birth partner can make sure that medical professionals supporting the labour on the day read the birth plan and accommodate accordingly.
Overall, be attentive. The last thing you want to do is be sat in the corner of the room on your phone whilst mum goes through this on her own. It is tiring and long but if you actively get involved you will feel amazing afterwards because you will have created this wonderful, trusting space and helped bring baby into the world in a calm and relaxing way.
If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to contact me.