This one’s all about you BIRTH PARTNERS and the many things that you can do to be an Awesome Birth Partner. Don’t underestimate just how important your support role is. When it comes to supporting your birthing woman in labour, just simply being there for her and being fully present is great in itself. However, if you really want to be her “rock”, her “anchor”, her “ I couldn’t have done it without him/her” then the following tips just might get you that credit.
- Have the baby capsule/car seat fitted into your car make sure you have a secure and safe way to bring your precious cargo home! Have the capsule fitted into the car at least 3 weeks before your due date. It is also worthwhile getting an accredited professional to check that the capsule is fitted securely. There are many services who can do this for you.
- Pack the hospital bags before things really start to heat up, pack the hospital bags (including your ‘birth wishes’) into the car so that you can focus all of your attention on helping your birthing woman into the car when it’s time to go the hospital (oh, and don’t forget the towels for the car. If her waters break, things can get a little wet and messy and you wouldn’t want to damage your beloved car seats!).
- Discreetly time her contractions it is important to know how long each contraction lasts for and how far apart they are. This will give you (and your caregivers) an indication of how her labour is progressing and a clearer idea on when to go to the hospital. You may wish to use a ‘contraction timer app’ to assist you. When your labouring woman’s contractions are lasting for 40-60 seconds, coming regularly (every five minutes) for at least an hour, it is a good time to call the hospital.
- Create her birthing environment (at home & in the hospital) your birthing woman will release a ‘cocktail of birthing hormones’ which will fuel her labour, when she feels safe, calm and private. You can help make this happen by creating a birthing environment individualised to her needs and by keeping her fear/stress levels low. Create a space for her which is quiet, dimly lit and which involves her five senses- sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. What can she look at to make her feel safe and relaxed? Perhaps place some of her favourite photos around the room or stick some birth affirmations on the wall. Diffuse her favorite essential oils for her to breathe in and smell. Play her labour/birth playlist so she can listen to familiar songs. You can also use touch by holding her and massaging her back. Lastly, satisfy her tastebuds by offering her an icy-pole, lolly, mints, a banana or anything else she feels like eating or drinking.
- You know your birthing woman better than anyone else. you know her likes and dislikes, you know what helps her to feel calm and safe. So hold her in the way that makes her feel safe. Touch her in a way that makes her feel loved. Speak to her with your familiar voice and comforting words. You are the continuity of care she needs.
- Act as her advocate you know her birthing wishes and preferences- so protect them, voice them and act as her advocate so that she isn’t unnecessarily disturbed from her “birthing bubble”. You can use the ‘B.R.A.I.N.’ acronym before making any decisions if a new course of action is suggested. Ask your caregiver questions, such as what are the ‘Benefits’ of this intervention/decision? What are the statistics and the evidence behind this? What are the possible ‘Risks’ involved? What are our ‘Alternatives’? And remember to use your ‘Instincts’. Does this decision feel right in your gut? Lastly, ask what will happen if you do ‘Nothing’ or have more time and wait. Be sure to make informed decisions based on what is best for your birthing mama and your baby.
- Help increase her Oxytocin (love hormone) oxytocin is one of the main birthing hormones of labour. It facilitates contractions, so we want lots of it. There are a few things you can do to keep this love hormone flowing: keep her feeling loved…whisper in her ear “I love you” or “you are doing so well”. Kiss her, hug her, massage her, stroke her hair and use lots of words of encouragement. Be the guardian of her ‘oxytocin bubble’ by keeping her feeling safe and loved.
- Encourage her breathing techniques you know the calmbirth breathing techniques as well as she does, so quietly count her breaths with her. Encourage her to breathe in gently and slowly through her nose and if she becomes scattered, scared or overwhelmed, use her breathing techniques to refocus her mind again. This will help her body to relax.
- Encourage an Active Labour/Birth an active labour has many benefits, including shorter labour lengths, 23% less likely need for medical intervention, and it can also create up to 28% more space in the pelvis (Cochrane Review 2019). An active labour and birth can also involve you. You can gently encourage your birthing woman to change positions, lean on you as she stands, squats and uses the birthing ball. You could also hold her hand, use the rebozo, apply counter-pressure/hip squeeze, heat or massage.
- Deepen her relaxation read her your rehearsed Calmbirth visualisations and affirmations. This will give her something positive to focus on, will take her mind off what her uterus/body is doing and it will also help her to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which will deepen her state of relaxation.
11. Know what role you want to play in the birth have you planned with your care-giver to help deliver/catch your baby? Are you going to cut the cord? What about having special Daddy bonding time/ skin to skin with your new baby (once mama has finished the first breastfeed). Know what role you want to play in the birth and make sure you have communicated your desired roles with your caregiver prior to the birth.
- Most of all…Enjoy the ride to fatherhood! this is the day you have been waiting for, for so long…so make it count! Add some humour into the labour room, take photos/ videos, take some breaks along the way (it might be a long journey), remember to eat and drink something and most of all… enjoy the most amazing day of your life… the day you become a FATHER. You’ve Got this!
Photo Credit: Lifetime of Clicks Photography/ Birth Becomes Her