With hospitals currently restricting birth support to 1 person to minimise the spread of Covid-19, you may be having more thoughts about just how prepared your birth partner will be as a support person to help you through your labour.
Do you currently have visions of them checking their social media, ducking out for some food, not knowing what to say or what physical support to give you?
At the start of each of my group or private lesson, I always ask how prepared everyone feels for labour. Most often, the birth partners comment that they don’t really know what their role will be or how to support the birthing mother.
It can be quite overwhelming for your birth partner (whoever that may be – your baby daddy, partner, bestie, Mum, etc) to support you in a positive and constructive way if they don’t have any education around how to do that.
My husband has now supported me through two hypnobirths so I thought he’d be the perfect person for me to ask what his biggest takeaways were from putting our Hypnobirthing Australia education into practice.
So I sat him down to chat about what he thinks are important points for birth partners to know. This list would the perfect starting point to guide conversations and share knowledge with your birth partner.
So here it is:
Max’s top 5 birth partner takeaways..
1. The stages of labour
The first stage is where she is working through her surges (contractions) and is often the longest part of labour. During this stage she will go through ‘transition’ when her body is getting close to the pushing stage. Look out for these signs – she may doubt herself, say she can’t do it, say she’s done or wants to go home, curl her toes, have the shakes or get really hot or cold all of a sudden. This is often the most intense part so coach her through that. Her body is doing what it is supposed to do so just remind her of that.
The second stage of labour is where she pushes the baby out. You will really want to be there to support your partner during this time so make sure any running around, food or toilet breaks are done before this stage. Keep noise and chatter minimal, maybe just a few encouraging words. Be fully present with her but let her be guided by her body.
The third stage of labour is when they birth the placenta. So the baby will have been born and is most often on Mum’s chest. This part is easy for you – just make sure Mum is comfortable while she cuddles the new baby.
2. Setting up the birth space
Find out what she wants her birth space to look like and write a list of the things you need to set up. This way when labour starts, you don’t have to ask her for reminders and she can focus on herself. Important things will probably include dim lighting, birth tracks playing, her favourite scent. You will probably want to make sure there are things available to help her get comfortable including birth ball, a chair and plenty of pillows in the area.
As soon as there are signs that labour is starting, get that birth space set up at home! It should then be the first thing you do when you get to hospital (if that’s where she is birthing) – create a space that is as home like and comfortable as possible.
If she is birthing at home and using a birth pool, make sure you test out tap fittings so you know you won’t have any dramas filling up the pool when it’s go time.
3. Tips for early labour
It’s a good idea to keep up food and water for the both of you and this is an ideal time to get a filling meal in while you can. It may be a long labour and you will both need energy and to stay hydrated.
Make sure you contact anyone you need to (eg hospital, birth photographer, family). It is handy to have a contact list written out and when you need to contact each person. It is one less thing to figure out on the day.
Use this time to arrange any logistics you need to, such as organising other kids, finishing packing a hospital bag and setting up the birth space. The more you are prepared at the first signs of labour, the easier it will to be present for support when things get more intense.
4. Supporting birth positions
Familiarise yourself with different positions she can be in for labour and birth. This way you can offer support and suggestions if she is looking uncomfortable. I’ve learnt that it’s often best for Mums to remain upright, forward leaning or on all fours instead of laying down on their back.
Don’t try to move her into different positions if she is comfortable – it’s important she listens to her body. But by having things like a birth ball and chairs close by, it may help to encourage those better birthing positions.
5. Protecting their birth space
It’s important to have discussions around the Mums’ birth preferences before she goes into labour and have them written out to have in labour as a reminder (these should be talked about with your care provider during appointments before birth as well). The more you can understand what is important to her, the easier it will be to protect her preferences during birth. You may need to speak up for her and advocate for her wishes during labour.
(You can read about why a birth plan/preferences is so important in a blog written by Vicki Hobbs here)
If you would like more free resources to help you plan and prepare for your positive birth, visit my blog post here. You will find podcasts, research blogs, online courses and heaps more!