As a birthing partner, you can end up feeling a little lost, a little useless, and a little overwhelmed. You might not know what to do, or how to help. These tips for partners can help you understand how you can support a mum-to-be during labour.
Before your partner goes into labour, it’s a good idea to talk to her about her birth plan. It’s good to know how she plans to deal with the pain, what distractions she would like, and if she wants music as you can help to organise these for her. Be aware that the birth plan may not go to plan, but it’s a good starting point for how you can help throughout the process.
Talk about what she wants to put in her hospital bag, and where the bag will be. You can also have a plan for leaving the house to go to the hospital. If you’re organised, and you know where the bag is, where the car keys are, and the best route to take to the hospital, it can help your partner to feel more relaxed.
The first stage of labour can last a long time, but each labour is different. During this stage, you can offer to massage your partner’s hips or lower back. It’s a good idea to time her contractions so this isn’t something she needs to focus on, but make sure that you don’t get too wrapped up in timing – your partner will want you to pay attention to her and not just her contractions. Encourage her, and offer her distractions such as going for a short walk around the house, watching TV, or reading to her. You can also move the hospital bag, and anything she wants such as pillows, snacks, and drinks into the car. Remember to pack snacks and drinks for you as well. Leave the car keys by the front door, so they’re easy to find. Don’t forget to take money in case you need anything from the vending machines, or shops in the hospital.
The second stage of labour is known as active labour. Your job during this stage is to support your partner. Offer her massages on her lower back. Walk with her. Encourage her, and tell her how she’s doing. Help her keep moving, and changing positions. You could also offer her small sips of water, to help her if her lips and mouth feel dry. You should also remind her to go to the bathroom. An empty bladder leaves more room for the baby, and makes things a little more comfortable for your partner.
The third stage, or transition stage, can be broken down into further parts, but this is the stage when the baby is actually born. During this stage, you can continue to encourage your partner, and offer her water and massages. You might also notice that she has changes in temperature so be prepared to offer her a cold facecloth if she’s too hot, or a blanket if she’s too cold. You can also help her move into comfortable positions as she gets ready to push. You can sit behind her as she’s pushing to give support, and massage her back. As you sit behind your partner, you can encourage her to keep breathing. She may try to hold her breath as she pushes, so you can remind her to breathe out.
Overall, make sure to remember to listen to your partner and be receptive to what she needs and is telling you, rather than what you think you should or shouldn’t be doing. Do your best to be supportive and helpful, without getting in the way of anyone’s important job, and you’ll be absolutely fine!