I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down with an expecting couple, got to talking about the upcoming birth, and then the partner says something along the lines of “Well I’m planning on just staying out of the way.” Every time I hear this it breaks my heart a little bit. If there ever was a time a person NEEDS the support of their partner its in that sacred vulnerable moment when they are facing the incredible force that is birth. But as much as it breaks my heart I can 100% understand that sentiment. Birth can be scary and one of the scariest things about it is the feeling that there is nothing you can do. I’ve never been in the position of the partner. I’ve given birth, I’ve served as a doula for couples, but I’ve never walked into a room and thought to myself, “a person I love is going to be uncomfortable, in pain, and scared for who knows how long and there is nothing I can do about it”. That is a scary thought and I can totally understand how that thought makes people want to just “stay out of the way.” But the thing is you don’t have to feel powerless. There are things you can totally do! Real things, helpful things, that will make you look like a rockstar and your partner eternally grateful for you! Here are 5 quick easy tips for partners to pull out when the rubber starts hitting the road.
Get them eating and drinking water
This is especially true during early labor. It is so easy to get excited and distracted once you REALLY start feeling those contractions and forget to eat and drink. But guess what the body needs to birth a baby? Energy. And where do we get that energy? Food and water. Be the supportive hero I know you are and go make her a sandwich!
Do they look tense?
You know your partner better than anyone. What do they look like when they’re stressed out? Do they clench their jaw? Start curling their toes? Do their shoulders start living up there by their ears? Pain, any kind of pain, is so much easier to handle when your muscles are loose and you are relaxed. So, if you see those toes start curling or those shoulders tensing up get over there and start giving them a little rub. While you’re over there tell them how great they’re doing and how proud you are of them. They will never forget how you showed them love in this moment.
Get in the water!
Keep it interesting
Here’s something people don’t say that often, labor is boring. You have no idea how long it’s going to be (on average most first time parents are in active labor for over 8 hours), if you are in a hospital during this time you might feel like you are stuck in one hotel like room, and depending on the time of day the only thing on television could courtroom dramas. On top of this you might people wanting updates, texting to ask how you are or what’s happened. Maybe those people are actually in the room with you. Let me tell ya something, when those hours start to stretch on and no baby has shown up yet pain starts getting more intense and your partner will start getting more frustrated. Pull out the stops. Get out of that one stuffy room and go for a walk. If it’s still early enough in labor bust out some games to play. Listen to some of their favorite songs. Talk to them about how you first met. When they start needing to focus more stop trying to actively keep their attention and switch to background distractions. Help them change positions, turn the music down and walk them through a relaxation and visualization exercise. Doing this will keep them from feeling stuck and help keep you engaged as well.
Be aware of the laboring environment
What’s going on around you? Is it loud and busy or calm and quiet? Has your sister in-law been sitting in the corner for the last hour and a half watching the television at full volume? Does the room feel cramped and crowded? And most importantly how does your partner seem to feel about this? Labor is SO much easier if the environment feels comfortable and safe for the laboring woman and YOU are the one that knows them best. YOU are the one that knows what helps them feel comfortable and safe. So look around you and start asking yourself, “what kind of room can my partner relax in”.
These are just some of the easy things to help your partner during labor and make you feel like you did more than just sit in a chair and stress yourself out. For more easy tips on how to help your partner during labor AND for more preparation for your amazing birth Wasatch Mountain Birth Boot Camp offers a free one hour mini comfort measures workshop once a month. Please come by and see us, grab a bagel, and ask us some questions.