It can be hard to know how to help your labouring partner at this important time, and all you want to do is be supportive. Every woman responds to labour and birth so differently, and it’s impossible to know how your partner will react. Below are a few tips that might help. As the Birth Partner, you play a huge part in this process, and your priority is to help your labouring woman to feel loved, safe, secure and calm during labour. When a woman feels this way, the needed hormones will be released and her body will soften, relax and ease, which is exactly what is needed.
When your partner is in labour, it’s really important from a hormonal perspective that she isn’t stressed or made to feel anxious. By having the car prepacked and full of petrol. Know where you’re going. It may sound obvious, and you’ve probably already thought of it, but when you’re preparing for birth make sure you know how to get to the hospital you plan to give birth in. You should also plan your route. It’s a good idea to do a trial run so you know exactly how long it takes you to drive there. A trial run will also help you become familiar with the route and how to get to the hospital from home. Doing this in advance will remove any of that stress for your partner in labour, so by taking control of these simple things you are actually helping her labour progress in a more straightforward way.
Make a birth plan, talk it through during pregnancy, and feel confident to be her voice when she may not feel able to. This doesn’t mean she can’t change her mind about everything on that ‘plan’ during labour itself. But by both educating yourselves on the options, you will be a great support when the time to make decisions comes. Please click here for further information on making a birth plan.
Wherever you are for the birth, home, birth centre, labour ward, as soon as you have an opportunity, make that space a den, a spa, a nest, a home for your partner. This space needs to feel as safe as it can be. Turn off the lights. Women’s bodies produce melatonin in the dark, melatonin is a hormone that essentially ‘increases the power’ of oxytocin, the hormone that is in charge of the labour. You might put up affirmations, battery operated candles, blankets, aromatherapy oils, music, anything that your partner may like.
If your partner is using a hypnobirthing breathing technique in labour, practise with her. If she’s not, simply breath deeply through the contractions with her.
There are many massage techniques that can be helpful in labour, the key is communicating with each other about what feels nice. Have a practice during pregnancy and you can also ask your midwife during labour to show you other things that may help. You may like to try a ‘soft touch’ massage, like stroking your partners back. Sacral pressure which involves pushing against your partners back during a contraction which many women find very comforting (ask your midwife to show you where to push if you’re not sure). A shoulder or foot massage to help relieve tension and encourage relaxation. All physical contact from someone she knows and love during labour can massively help the body to produce oxytocin.
Your partner may not need you to speak much at all during labour, but if she wants that gentle reassurance, keep your language positive, tell her she is incredible, tell her you love her, remind her of her power. When women are in labour they are hugely emotionally susceptible, so by keeping the environment positive, it’s easier for them to remain positive.
The ‘emotional calm’ within the room during labour is important to help things progress. So have a think about how you can make sure you are well looked after, so you can be there for your partner 100%. This might mean packing your own 'hospital bag’ full of snacks, spare clothes, deoderant, etc. But it might also mean having someone on the end of the phone who can either bring you dinner if you’re starving, nip in to your house to feed the cat or even reassure you if you start to feel anxious or uncomfortable yourself. We all need support in birth, even you.Look after yourself
Both physically and emotionally. Hold her hand, stroke her hair, give her a kiss and cuddle, look her in the eye and tell her she’s the most incredible human on this planet (because she is), and when you’ve told her once, tell her again. She can absolutely do this, but you can make it a whole lot easier for her.