When it comes to labor and delivery sometimes partners feel like they aren’t a necessary part since, after all, they aren’t the one pushing out a baby or a medical professional. However, support is crucial to the one giving birth, and who better to give that support than your partner! But what is meant by supporting a birthing person during labor and delivery?
It Starts Before Labor
The first step to support during labor and delivery actually starts long before labor begins. Having conversations about what is important to both of you during the birth process, as well as knowing what will help bring a calming environment to the room. Go over the following questions together.
- How do you feel about potential interventions in labor and delivery?
- How do you feel about interventions with the baby once he or she is born?
- What will stress your partner out and how can you reduce that stress?
- What helps to calm and relax your partner?
While in labor it can be really hard for most people to express themselves. So, knowing these things ahead of time and having a game plan can go a long way. Taking a childbirth class together can help you with the creation of these plans as well.
During Labor and Delivery
This is where you put your game plan into action. Keep your focus on anticipating the needs of your partner and keeping the environment as comfortable and peaceful as possible. The less the birthing person has to think and talk, the better the body will be able to labor. The more peaceful the environment during labor and delivery, the more easily labor will flow.
- In early labor distraction and laughter can be a help to getting through without too much anxiety.
- Go on a walk (or many walks) together, watch some movies, or play some cards.
- Keeping mom hydrated and nourished will help labor to progress. A good rule of thumb is to offer a drink of water after every contraction.
Help Mom Move Around
- Movement will help the baby to move down and out. Encourage mom to go to the bathroom every 30-45 minutes. Help her to move her body by bouncing on a ball, walking, swaying, and lunging. Help her in and out of position and support her weight.
- In between times of movement, help to keep Mom very comfortable. Does she need more pillows? A blanket? A fan? A cool, wet washcloth on their forehead or neck? Would she like some chapstick (put it on for her)? Does she need her hair tied back?
Keep the Calm
- Keep the lights dim, play comforting music, use a diffuser or spray scents that keep Mom calm.
- Stroke her arms, legs, back, or hold her hand. If Mom’s back hurts, provide counter pressure.
- Tell her that she is doing a good job. Remind Mom of the end goal – a baby! Let her know that you love her. Remind her that she can do it! She IS doing it!
- Breathe with Mom, keeping the breath calm, deep, and slow.
- If she doesn’t want to be touched or doesn’t want you to talk (it happens!), stay nearby and stay present. Sometimes labor and delivery is so overwhelming the birthing person needs to reduce all stimulation, but they still need to know that you are there, and you are available to help them.
- Let Mom cry if she needs to.
- Suggest a bath or shower. Or many baths and showers. Partners, bring your bathing suit!
- If medical staff has questions, try to answer them so she doesn’t have to. If you need time alone to discuss what is happening, speak up and request some time alone.
- Keep disturbances by staff to a minimum during contractions. Questions and procedures can happen after the contraction is over.
- Keep family and friends informed of what is going on and encourage them not to text or call her phone.
- Have a thick skin. Your partner doesn’t have time during labor and delivery to be sweet and kind and polite. It isn’t personal.
Take Care of You Too!
- Don’t forget to take care of YOU! You are no good as a support to your partner if you are not well taken care of.
- Keep yourself hydrated and nourished.
- Go to the bathroom often.
- Lie down with her or near her when she sleeps.
- Take occasional breaks, making sure someone is still there for her – a nurse she likes, a friend/family member, or a doula.
- Splash some water on your face, brush your teeth, go for a quick walk outside, these are all things that can refresh you. And remind yourself of why you are doing this!
Labor and Delivery can be a long, hard process. With a little planning it can also be something that you experience together as a team. She will always remember your support. For more ideas on how to support your partner through labor and delivery, attend a childbirth class together. For even more support during labor and delivery, hire a birth doula! And don’t forget your newborn care services from Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny to help support you in the fourth trimester!
About The Author
Laura Nance has been working as a doula and educator for over 20 years. She is a trainer with CAPPA and serves on the leadership team as the senior program advisor for the postpartum doula and new parent educator programs. Laura owns a doula and educator collaborative in NC providing services for pregnancy through sleep crises and weaning, called For the Love of Baby. She has been married for almost 30 years and has two children in their twenties who are responsible for helping her to realize how much she didn’t know each stage of the way. She has 4 cats, loves to read on the beach, and get covered in mud and sweat on running trails. Follow her on Instagram @forloveofbaby and @laura_nance_education.