How You Can Support Your Partner During Labor
Good support during labor has a lot of benefits for mom and baby. Apart from improving overall health, it can reduce stress, pain, and the need for medical intervention. Additionally, good support can shorten labor and create a more positive birth experience, generally. But the thought of the partner being in pain and doing incredibly hard – if not the hardest ever – work, while one can only watch as a bystander, makes a lot of partners feel extremely anxious and helpless. Knowing how you can support your partner during labor can significantly reduce fear and anxiety.
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In the final weeks of my pregnancy, I watched my husband becoming uneasier with the thought of me giving birth, by the day. He started to express his fear of seeing the person he loves in pain and of not being able to cope. I really appreciated him sharing those feelings with me, because it made me understand. I figured a great deal of him being anxious was caused by feeling helpless and not prepared. Reassuring him and telling him about possible ways to support me during labor, gave him more confidence. It was a big surprise, eventually finding my husband to be the biggest support I could have asked for during labor.
Feeling prepared and having an idea about what you can do to support your partner, can reduce anxiety and help to make your baby’s birth the most wonderful experience possible for you both.
Go To Birth Classes Together
Not knowing what is going to happen can fuel anxiety. If you know your stuff and feel mentally prepared, it will give you more confidence. Birth classes can help you understand the process and an insight in how you might be able to help. Also, it will show your partner that you are showing interest.
Know The Birth Plan
Talking to your partner about her birth plan will let you know what kind of support she might need from you. But it also increases the chances that your partner can get exactly the birth she wants. You might have to do the talking or make decisions if your partner happens not to be able to talk.
It is well proven that a calmer atmosphere leads to a better birth experience. Stress and fear on the other hand makes labor pains feel more intense. Try to keep calm yourself and speak in a calm voice. It will have a positive effect on her, too. Make her feel as relaxed as possible to make this labor easier.
When the contractions begin they might be still irregular and not of long duration. But once the contractions become regular, longer, more intense and more frequent, you will have to go the hospital/ call your midwife/ doula etc. It will be hard for her to focus on this, so time the contractions for her to know how the labor is progressing.
Even if she doesn’t want physical contact or gets irritable, knowing she can count on you and that you are there if she needs you, is the biggest support you can give. Just be present and let her know, you have her back.
Women tend to feel extremely warm during labor. The pain and contractions cause a lot of body heat. Dab her face with a cold, wet wash cloth or hold some cold compresses on her forehead. This will give relief from the head and relaxation.
Remind Her Of Going To The Toilet
Remind her to use the bathroom every hour. A full bladder can slow the progress of birth down and is very uncomfortable during labor in general. But remind her not to poo if she feels an urge to push. She might think she has to do the number 2 but it might be the baby trying to get out.
It can take a long time from when contractions first start to when when the actual pushing phase starts. Keeping your partner distracted from the pain will help her relax and not exhaust as quickly. Play some music, her favorite movie or just talk. A good idea is relaxation music created for birth.
Provide Snacks And Water
Labor is hard work. Your partner will need a lot of energy and to stay hydrated. Remind her to have a few sips of water every now and then and hand her heathy snacks. If your partner is going to have a C-Section or has an epidural she may not be allowed to eat. So check with the doctor/midwives.
Help To Keep Mobile
Keeping mobile during labor can reduce pain while making labor progress. When the contractions are slowing down it is a very good idea to walk or use birth balls etc. Assist her in doing that because the contractions can make it hard to stand on her own legs.
Help Change Positions
Different birth positions can ease labor pains or make your partner more comfortable. If she wants to, help her squad, sit or kneeling on the bed/floor. Use your body to support hers and hold her where necessary.
Tipp: A birth ball can help to keep things moving.
Give Back Rubs
Giving your partner back massages can ease the pain. Especially, if your partner has a back labor, which will make her feel the contraction in her lower back, gentle pressure and rubs on these parts can give a little bit of relief.
Help To Shower/Bath
Water can be relaxing and reduce labor pains. So if your partner is allowed to and feels like bathing or showering, help her get in, find a comfortable water temperature or hold the shower head where she might need it, e.g. the lower back or the abdomen.
Follow The Contraction Monitor
It is likely that your partner won’t be able to see the contraction monitor herself. Telling her when a contraction is about to start or end and how long they are lasting for, can give her a sense of control and help focusing.
Remind Her To Breathe Correctly
Honestly, with everything that’s going on and all the pain it can be hard to remember when to breathe how. Telling your partner when to breathe or take deeper/shorter breaths according to the situation can help her stay focused and in the right breathing pattern.
Encourage Her, Motivate Her
Tough your partner knows that the biggest reward is waiting at the end of this birth, namely your baby, at one point she will feel like she can’t do it anymore. That’s when it is most important to encourage her and tell her, what a great job she’s doing.
Hold Her Legs
When it is time to push your partner might be asked to keep her legs lifted and pulled towards her body. After being in labor for quite a while, this can be really exhausting. You can actually lift or push the leg in the required position and hold it there for how ever long it may take. This can make the pushing part a tiny little bit easier.
Pressure Point Massages
There are two different pressure points that can keep the contractions going and be beneficial for the pushing part. Press the pressure points on each ankle (like tow fingers above the inner foot knuckles) and each hand (between Thumb and Index Finger) for a couple of seconds. You can ask your midwife for more information.
Catch Baby/Cut Umbilical Cord
When it finally comes to the most magical part and you meet your baby for the first time, you sometimes will be offered to catch your baby. If mom doesn’t want to do it herself this is a great way for you to get involved. Very likely you will be asked to cut your babies umbilical cord – a very special moment.
Take Awesome First Pictures
Have the camera ready for those first lovely, treasury moments between mom and bub. You want to remember the first contact in all its beauty and pureness. Also, it is going to be wonderful for mom to see what it looked like when she meet her little one after an exhausting labor for the first time.
Focus On What Happens After Birth
You’re your partners ears and eyes now. Listening to what you are told by medical staff and watching what is happening to your partner and the baby, e.g. weighing, the first injections etc., is what you should do now. She will be too exhausted to really focus on anything that happens right after the baby is out. You probably going to have to tell her later, so focus and memorize.
Don’t Forget To Look After Yourself
Childbirth can be quite a long process. Very likely it will take hours of intense support until the baby arrives. Furthermore, many births are happening during the night, hence you won’t be able to sleep. This is why, it is even more important that you look after your own needs, as well. So pack a small hospital bag with snacks and drinks for yourself.
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