3 Things your Partner Can Do to Help in Labour
Giving birth is a highly transformative event for both the mother personally and for herself and her partner as a couple. When a couple is really attuned to each other and the partner supports the mother throughout her hard work, it can bring the two new parents together in a very unique way.
Although the birthing mother will be doing most of the hard work, and the midwives will be helping her out, there are many things that partners can do to support the mother throughout her labour.
1. Like a rock
Many mothers say that emotional support is by far the most important thing that their partner can provide them with. As the partner, you can remain a source of strength, steadfastness and calm, as the mother rides the ocean of labour. You will, of course, feel emotions of your own during the birth – fear for your partner and baby, discomfort in an unfamiliar hospital setting, inadequacy because the mother and the midwives are doing all the work, etc. However, it is important to set those feelings gently to one side during the labour and remain steady for the mother. Don’t feel that you need to run around ‘doing’ a lot of things. Being a calm, familiar physical presence is often exactly what the mother wants.
2. Physical Support
While being a calm presence is often the most important thing you need to do, providing physical support can also be of help to the birthing mother. This can include massage and other forms of help. Gently but firmly rubbing the mother’s tailbone can provide huge relief during labour. Massaging her back using strong, rhythmic movements also helps. Beginning between her shoulder blades, stroke her back down to her tailbone, down along on either side of her spine. You can also massage a ‘figure eight’ between her shoulder blades.
Along with massage, there are other movements that help. Holding her hands as she works through the contractions can help. During the birth of my first child, I found that squeezing my husband’s top between my fingers helped a lot. You can also do what my childbirth instructor called ‘shaking the apples’. This is when you shake the mother’s body, from her bum and hips down to her thighs. This vigorous move can relieve a lot of pressure during early and active labour. If labour is stalling, you can stimulate the birth mother’s nipples. This releasing oxytocin, which in turn stimulates labour. You can also encourage her to move around and change positions.
You and the mother have most likely discussed her birth preferences during the pregnancy and perhaps even come up with a birth plan. This can include things she would like to do and procedures she would like to use or avoid. During labour, the midwives and nurses will probably offer or ask about certain procedures and pharmaceutical pain relief options.
Although the mother will still be able to think and speak during labour, she will be focusing on the contractions and giving birth. If she is unable to discuss things is detail with the midwives or doctors, you can do this, and advocate for the mother’s desires, if needed.