This weekend we are celebrating the birthing partner! Our posts are going to be focused on helping dads, friends, girlfriends, grandparents, and whoever else may be in the Labor and Delivery room while mama is bring baby into the world. We want to give you some tools and tips for being more comfortable in the birthing room so that you know what she needs and how to make sure she's supported.
Childbirth is a big deal. You probably want to get this right. What can you do for your partner in labor? How can you help? Are you worried about not knowing what to do? What if you do something wrong? What if something GOES wrong? How will you handle each situation? We want to help! Here are some tips for things you should do and shouldn't do when your partner is in labor and birthing your baby.
- ...Validate her feelings. Always validate her thoughts, feelings, and mood. If she's excited, tell her that's fantastic! If she's scared, tell her you understand that she may be worried and that no matter what, you're staying by her side.
- ...Whatever she says. Yep. Even if it sounds ridiculous. She's the star of the show today and deserves VIP treatment. Take our childbirth education class and learn the importance of the hormonal systems in place while a woman is laboring. We don't want to disrupt them! If she asks you to run a bath, run the bath. If she asks you to massage her shoulders, do it. If she asks you to prepare a grilled chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes meal immediately, run to the kitchen. And if she's so far into labor that she doesn't eat it, just happily place it in the refrigerator for her first postpartum meal.
- ...Provide food and drink. Labor is like a marathon! It's important to refuel. In early labor, bring her snacks and nutritious meals. As labor progresses, offer her a sip of water or juice from a straw in between contractions.
- ...Encourage her to pee! If she needs a hand getting to the restroom and back, help her out.
- ...Time contractions for her (if she wants you to). Download a free app for timing contractions and come up with a way for her to express the beginning and end of her contractions to you beforehand. It may be as easy as her saying "start" and "stop". When I was in labor with my first baby, I said "Oklahoma" to let my doula know that a contraction was beginning. #dontaskwhy
- ...Support the rhythm that she will create. Whatever that is. If she is moving through contractions with slow breathing and swaying, breathe and sway with her. If she likes having you hold her hand every time, just continue to do it.
- ...Remain calm and confident. Even if she isn't. Your voice, touch, and presence will be enough. If you reach a time when you aren't feeling as calm and confident, look around the room. Your doula, nurses, midwife, and/or OB will usually still be calm. That will hopefully soothe your nerves. Taking a deep breath is always a good idea.
- ...Follow the mother's lead. If she's moving through this labor quietly and without speaking, so should you. If she's chatty and chipper, smile and talk it up.
- ...Hire a doula! Your doula can remind you how to best support your partner and help facilitate communication between you, your partner, and your medical team.
- ...Cut the cord and take pictures after birth. Enjoy meeting your new baby and marveling in the beauty of birth and life.
If you want to learn more about the childbirth process and how to be the best birthing partner, take our childbirth education class to be fully informed and excited about your upcoming birth!
Stay tuned for Part Two: What NOT to Do When She is in Labor tomorrow!