How to be a positive birth partner. Part 2: during

Ok, so you’ve done your homework, read about how to prepare here and have helped your partner to feel excited and happy about the upcoming birth. Well done! Give yourself a pat on the back, a large chocolate muffin and wait for the fun to really start.

Here are some ideas for ways to be a positive partner when labour stuff starts to happen.

1. At the first sign of labour take a big deep breath and remind yourself that you are the guardian of calm, gentle excitement and conservation of energy. Try and resist the urge to run around like a headless chicken calling taxis, stuffing things in bags and generally creating an atmosphere of hysteria. If you need to have a moment to do this, shut yourself if the bathroom for 5 mins and jump up and down a bit or something.

2. Encourage your partner to try and ignore things and go about her daily business for as long as possible (unless there’s a pre-defined reason why you need to call someone/be in hospital from the word ‘go’). The more you can see these first twinges as early labour (which might stop, which could go on for days, which may well soon turn in to full on labour) the shorter labour will feel and the less stressed you will both be.

3. If she can, encourage her to sleep, eat and keep hydrated.

4. Try and resist the urge to start timing contractions. Read about why here.

5. Remember that you are trying to create the kind of atmosphere that encourages the release of oxytocin. Try and plan what you do around that – be loving, make her laugh and try to limit stressful stuff.

6. Call your doula!

7. Once she starts needing to concentrate on the contractions give her quiet during them. Look at her face and body language so that you can begin to work out when she’s having a contraction without asking her. Match your breathing to hers and, if she is panicky or finding it hard to cope, gently lengthen your breaths while standing close by to encourage her to breath slowly.

8. Positive encouragement is good – cheerleading is generally not! Less is more…

9. Remember that labour goes up a gear every now and then. She’ll have moments when she wobbles and looks for a new way to cope. Be there to breathe with her, suggest she adds a sound to her out breath to make it more effective (any sound she likes though ‘oooh’, ‘aaah’ and ‘uurrghhh’ are pretty popular), or change positions/get in to a bath/under the shower.

10. Try not to let the change in her personality/mood/funny noises make you feel frightened. This is normal and good. She will disappear in to her own world and you should try and keep her there. Sometimes the sounds she makes will be weird – try to read them as coping strategies.

11. You know her best. If in doubt, tune in to her, listen to her, trust her and her body and you and your knowledge of her.

12. Remember your birth plan. If a change of plan is suggested you should find out more. BRAIN: ask the

  • Benefits – of this course of action
  • Risks – of what they suggest
  • Alternatives – what else could you try
  • Instincts – what do your instincts tell you both
  • Nothing – what happens if you do nothing
  • Science – what’s the science behind their suggestion (i.e. statistics)

13. Guard her space. Midwives and doctors should knock, whisper, introduce themselves, be quiet during contractions, not chat in the room. You can feel free to remind them as they’ll be busy and it’s easy to forget.

14. It’s ok to take a break if you need it – in fact you’ll come back from a 10 minute walk refreshed and ready again. Though make sure the midwife (or better still your doula and the midwife) are there to take over.

15. Keep offering her drinks and small snacks

16. If you’re in hospital feel free to draw the curtains dim the lights and make the place your own.

17. If things slow down a bit, ask for some privacy so you can cuddle and chill out and gradually build up that oxytocin level.

18. Ignore all of this if it doesn’t feel right – you know your partner best!

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