Birth partners play a very important role in supporting women in labor, and might actually improve the entire delivery. Studies have shown that women who have continuous, one-on-one support tend to cope better with labor, and are happier with their birth experience.1
While the birth partner is usually the father of the baby, it could also be a close friend or relative. There are many things to consider when deciding to be present in the delivery room, and it is up to you to decide if it is for you. Being a birth partner is a great way to get involved!
It can be overwhelming to anticipate what you will do and how you can help during the big day. Here are some things that you, as a birthing partner, can keep in mind when you are in the delivery room.
Read up about what to expect, the different stages of labor, and plan ahead so you know what needs to happen when things speed up. Try to remain calm and collected. Remember, you are the one she will turn to when she needs support.
Go over the birth plan with her beforehand, and even talk through some possible scenarios to prepare for any possibility.
Find out about how she feels about things such as:
- Pain management (epidural or natural remedies?)
- Speeding up labor (inducing or waiting it out?)
- Medical interventions such as episiotomies or C-sections.
Support Her Emotionally
You know your loved one best, and what makes her tense up and relax. This is why she trusts you enough to be there during the possibly most vulnerable moment of her life. Sometimes just holding her or letting her squeeze your hand can work wonders to reduce pain and tension.
Provide distractions, like playing games or telling her stories, so her mind is busy and not focused on the labor itself. Remember, labor can sometimes take a long time, and it is easy to get tired and discouraged. Keep her spirits up any way you can.
Every woman is different, and may react to being in labor differently, so may need different types of encouragement. Whether she wants tough love or gentle caresses, it’s up to you to give her what she needs, when she needs it.
Support Her Physically
Help her move around or find a position that is the most comfortable, which may change throughout the different stages of labor. Validate her pain and find her aids to relieve the discomfort, such as birthing balls, pillows, and stress balls.
Coach her through the stages of labor and what to expect at every milestone.
Remind her to practice birthing techniques, and help her through them.
- Relaxation techniques
- Breathing exercises
Be her advocate
When labor pains get too intense, your loved one may not be able to make decisions or react adequately. This is where you come in, whether it is talking to nurses and doctors on her behalf, finding out about medical options, or giving updates to friends and family.
You can articulate her needs and make sure they are met, which is important for making her feel confident and secure.
Don’t get in the way
Your role in the delivery room is to support your loved one, and help in any way you can. One of the best ways to help is by reading cues and listening to instructions from the medical staff that are trying to deliver the baby.
Cut the cord!
Or if you are keen enough, some doctors may even let you catch the baby on it’s way out. Some birth partners want to see everything that goes on down there, while some prefer to stay at their loved one’s side. Cutting the cord may be one of the most memorable moments of the whole delivery for you.
Bring her food after the birth
Birthing is hard work, and the body uses up a lot of calories during the whole process. You would think that hospitals would serve up a lion’s feast to every woman after giving birth, but unfortunately the meals are standardized in most hospitals and birthing centers, and are not too exciting. Treat your partner by bringing her a favorite meal, or something she loves to eat.
Being present in the delivery room means a lot more than just being there – it means being an active participant. Believe it or not, there’s a lot for you to do!
- World Health Organization. Continuous support during childbirth may improve health outcomes for women and infants http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/maternal_perinatal/support-during-childbirth/en/