How The Birthing Partner Can Prepare For Birth
Published on: June 08, 2021
Even if they are not the one giving birth, the birthing partner’s role is just as crucial during the birth process. Erika Lindley explains what partners can do to deliver their best on the big day.
By Erika Lindley
Birth is generally seen as women’s business, and obviously, they are the ones doing most (or all!) of the work. However, this notion undermines the amazing part birth partners can play in the process. Personally speaking, my husband played a vital role as a calm and steady presence during the birth of my two daughters. Most people, especially first-time parents, generally have a minimal understanding of what birth entails, and preparing as a birth partner may feel overwhelming and daunting. Rest assured, there are many things you can do to assist with the birth of your baby and help prepare for the big day.
The more you know about what to expect during the various stages of labour, the better prepared you will be in your support role. Whether you decide to take a childbirth education class with your partner or educate yourself by reading books or watching birth videos, there are many sources of information available to suit your purpose. The more knowledgeable you are, the more confident you will feel on the day of birth. I highly recommend ‘The Birth Partner’ by Penny Simkin and Katie Rohs as a great place to start.
Labour can last a while and be both physically and emotionally exhausting for you and your partner. Remember that you are a key point of support, and she will turn to you for guidance and reassurance when things feel overwhelming. Focus on being a calm presence which in turn will help your partner feel calm and in control.
Learn how to time contractions
You will most likely be the one responsible for timing contractions and alerting the care provider of the frequency and duration. During early labour, contractions may not follow a particular pattern, but once your partner enters into active labour, the contractions become longer, stronger, and closer together. You’ll want to take note of the pattern they are following, as this will help inform you when it’s a good time to head to the hospital. There are many free and paid applications available to help you track contractions. Alternatively, you can use a simple notepad and stopwatch.
Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork sorted and ready to go. Pack a hospital bag for yourself, and don’t forget to include some snacks. You’ll get hungry, and depending on how labour is progressing, you may not be able to leave the room to grab a bite to eat. Remember to throw in a swimsuit for yourself if the hospital has a tub or shower and your partner thinks she might like to use the water. Know the best route to the hospital. If you are driving, it’s best to make sure you have driven the route at least once before. If you plan on taking public transportation, think about the time of day your partner may go into labour and the best mode of transportation to take then.
Know your partner’s birth preferences
It’s best to help your partner create a birth preference document beforehand so that you know the thought process behind the decisions that were made. This is important in case plans need to change on the day of birth. She will need you to be her advocate then. Being aware of how she wants to birth, and also planning for what you might do if things don’t go according to plan will help you both feel more in control during the main event.
Get that oxytocin flowing!
Oxytocin is the “love” hormone responsible for helping the uterus to contract. Shower your partner with love and affection. Stay close during each contraction. Massage her if she likes it or just maintain a hand on her shoulder or lower back. Help to ground her. If she likes affirmations, prepare in advance so that you know what she wants to hear during labour. All of these simple gestures can increase her levels of oxytocin which in turn helps to progress labour.
Hire a doula!
A doula is a source of physical, emotional, and informational support for the birthing woman and her partner. Evidence shows that a doula can help in a variety of ways. Not only do mothers have higher birth satisfaction rates, but studies also show that the most positive birth experiences for partners are ones where they have continuous support from a doula. Photos from Canva and Unsplash
About the Author
Originally from the USA, Erika followed her heart to Australia over seven years ago, and now calls “The Land Down Under” home. Her family has spent the past two years in Bangkok on a diplomatic post with plans to return home at the end of 2021. She worked as a primary school teacher for many years before training as a doula through Birth Arts International. She is mum to two young girls, and having had two empowering births herself, knows how important it is to prepare for one of the most exciting yet overwhelming moments of a woman’s life. She is passionate about working with expecting mothers, and educating and supporting them to achieve a positive birth experience.
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