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.
Growing up my family didn’t always have what they needed in the moment they needed it. When my mom and my dad divorced my mom didn’t have her college degree and our options were limited. She eventually went back to school, got her undergrad and graduate degree, and is now a practicing therapist here in Lehi. However, in that moment of growing up, stuck in those thin places, it was hard. Balancing a household budget for three people, trying to figure out how to pay tuition and bills, needing to buy medication for your diabetic child, and then having enough left over to eat and buy school uniforms for your kids is hard. All of it is hard. So what do you do when all three people in your house have a period once a month? Go to the Walmart website and search “tampon” real quick. I can tell you right now that at Walmart a box of tampons can cost you between $5 - $35. I can also tell you that a 20 day supply of insulin is $35, provided that you have good insurance. We didn’t have good insurance.
So what do you do? What do you do when a basic hygiene product that three people in your house need cost the same as medication that will keep one of those people healthy? Do you honestly want to know? Well, first you get really good at layering toilet paper in your underwear. Second, you learn exactly how far you can push every tampon, pad, and panty liner before you have to put them back on the shopping list. Third, you overcome your shyness and learn to become ok asking your friends for what you need. Luckily for me and my family we had a support system. Wonderful people who loved and cared about my family and who were cheering us on from the sidelines. I am grateful everyday for them and how they changed my life. But what about those people who don’t have a support system? What about that family who is new and struggling in your community? What about that high school student who is also working a full time job to help pay the bills? What about those people who are homeless? What are their support systems when “that time of the month” rolls around?
enter the homeless period project
The Homeless Period Project is a group that is attempting to answer those questions with a solution. On their website their missions statement reads “We provide menstrual products to those in need while educating and advocating to end the stigma of menstruation.” In the first quarter of 2019 they donated over 800,000 period products and they are hoping to start 2020 off on the same foot. So what are they doing? What are they providing? Who are they educating? The main product that they are providing is something called a “period pack” which is a ziplock baggie filled with tampons, pads, pantie liners and wipes. They donate these to shelters, local schools, as well as to disaster relief organizations to give to those in need. One of the main problems, however, is the lack of education. Menstrual products are still one of the least donated items to shelters and a lack of sanitary products can be a huge hindrance to people who are looking for jobs, looking for housing, trying to stay in school, or who have only one set of clothing. On top of this some families still keep their children home from school when they are on their periods instead of buying menstrual products, not realizing what a disadvantage this puts their children at. The Homeless Period Project works with shelters, schools, and other organizations to provide education and support to communities in need.
what can you do?
So what can you do? You know what the problem is now and you’ve spent the time reading to the end of this article so I’m guessing you care enough to want to get involved. Wasatch Mountain Birth Boot Camp is following the lead of Utah Douals & Company and helping raise donations for the Homeless Period Project. We are accepting donations of pads, tampons, panty liners, quart sized ziploc bags, and tall kitchen trash bags. The Utah Period Drive is accepting donations till February 14th, then we will be assembling the period packs and taking the packs to The Road Home and family shelter in Midvale on February 18th. If you can donate products, please do. If you want to give time, even better. Contact us or any of the lovely ladies at Doulas & Co. for more information on how to get involved in this worthy cause. Let's work together to “give dignity back, one period at a time.”