These tips for birth partners are about simple and effective ways to make a difference during labour and birth.
Partners often want to know what they can do to be of help during labour. The key to birth support is to keep it simple and to follow your partner’s lead. Be positive and calm and provide practical support so she is comfortable and able to move around.
1. Provide plenty of positive encouragement especially if your partner is overwhelmed and feels like she can’t keep going.
2. Eye to eye contact and slow steady breathing will help to keep her calm and focused.
3. Try massage – the back, shoulders, scalp and hands can be beneficial if she wants to be touched. It can be great way to relax and rest in-between the contractions.
4. Speak quietly and gently, but also firmly when appropriate, to help your partner remain calm and focused.
5. Remind her to keep her jaw loose and to relax her shoulders. This will help her to get rid of any tension and adrenaline.
6. Encourage her to breathe out – to prevent her from holding her breath and becoming tense.
7. Remind your partner to empty her bladder about once an hour. This will keep her comfortable and it will make more room for baby.
8. Encourage rest in-between contractions, especially if your partner is tired and if labour is long.
9. Explain what is happening if she needs that information to stay calm and reassured.
10. Your partner may need you to provide reassurance and security so if you feel overwhelmed and panicky and take a break to clear your head.
11. Communicate with your midwife and any other medical staff to gather information.
Remember to ask: What are the Benefits? What are the Risks? What are the Alternatives? if something is suggested and you are not sure why.
12. Don’t feel that you have to be doing something all the time. Just being there is often enough.
13. Offer a drink of water after each contraction, especially if she is using gas & air – this will prevent a dry mouth and dehydration.
14. Help her to move around into different positions so she has gravity, so she is also comfortable and so she can rest in-between her contractions.
15. Protect the birth space so it is a comfortable and safe space for your partner to labour – is it warm? quiet? Does she want music? Is it too bright? Is there a birth ball, a chair or pillows to use?
And look after you…
Keep your own strength up – you need food, drinks and some rest where possible.
Look after yourself when supporting your partner, try not to stay in an uncomfortable position for too long.
If you need support and reassurance, ask your midwife for information to help you stay calm. She is there for you too and you might just need to know that everything is normal.