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 the lead of your partner as she moves through labour and birth. Be positive and calm and provide practical support so she is comfortable and able to move around.
Practical ideas for labour & birth support…
Provide plenty of positive encouragement especially if your partner feels like she can’t keep going.
Eye to eye contact and slow steady breathing will help to keep her calm and focused.
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.
Speak quietly and gently, but also firmly when appropriate, to help your partner remain calm and focused.
Remind her to keep her jaw loose and to relax her shoulders. This will help her to get rid of any tension and adrenaline.
Encourage her to breathe out – to prevent breath-holding, which can create panic and pain.
Remind her to empty her bladder about once an hour. This will keep her comfortable and it will make more room for baby.
Encourage her to rest in-between contractions, especially if she is tired and if labour is long.
Explain what is happening if she needs that information to stay calm and reassured.
Your partner may need you to provide reassurance and security so if you feel overwhelmed and panicky, focus on your breathing and take a break
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 don’t know why
Don’t feel that you have to be doing something all the time.
Just being there is often enough
Offer a drink of water after each contraction, especially if she is using gas & air, to prevent her from becoming dehydrated.
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.
Protect the birth space so it is a comfortable and safe space for her 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?
Looking after your needs
Keep your own strength up – you need food, drinks and some rest when 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 and to know what is going on. She is there for you too and you might just need to know that everything is ok and normal.
You may need to take a short break – when appropriate stretch your legs, have a few minutes of fresh air, especially if labour is long
Focus on your breathing to stay calm and relaxed – this will help you and it is an essential way to also support your partner.
Janine Smith | a specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting
Just get in touch to arrange a 1:1 session so you can ask questions for further information and support.