The Birth Partner
Preparing for the birth of your baby isn't all down to Mama. It’s a total team effort and that’s why I LOVE Hypnobirth. As the birth partner you have been entrusted to support mum, to protect her and to advocate for her, if she needs you too. Preparing and having a toolkit of support is going to be vital for keeping Mum going and having a positive experience, so listen up!
When I say birth partner I’m not talking about the One Born Every Minute guy who sits on his phone and laughs when mum thinks she’s about to poo. Let’s be grown ups about this! I’m talking about the person chosen to be there for Mum when she is at her most vulnerable. The person who gets that this is teamwork and they have a huge part to play in welcoming this baby in to the world too.
Here’s my top 5 suggestions for being a supportive birth partner
ONE. Listen. Listen to your partner and how she wants to birth her baby. Going to antenatal classes like Hypnobirth might not be top of your list but get on board and listen to how she wants to do this.
TWO. Protect. The birth partner is a powerful protector. In pregnancy you can protect mum from negative birth stories. Ask chatty Cathy to shush if you can see Mum is incomfortable. Remember, there is helpful advice that benefits you, or there is scaring a pregnant lady just for the sake of sharing your story. If Mum’s not benefiting, help her out of the situation.
In the birth room, protect mum. Keep the environment (nest!) safe. Put the music on, dim the lights, create the space she wanted, give her a massage, reinforce her strength by telling her she is amazing. Ask the midwife to talk to you, or read your birth preferences, before disturbing mum unnecessarily. Offer water and snacks to keep mum hydrated and energised. Let her lean on you and rest on you. Offer love and cuddles or intimacy to help her feel safe and calm and to boost her oxytocin levels. Learn about the physiology of birth and what to expect in labour so you aren’t thrown off by something and you know how to cope and support.
THREE. Choose your words. A big part of hypnobirth is about being mindful of the words we use around Mum. We want her to feel safe, confident and empowered. Slight changes to what you might say to comfort her could have BIG consequences to her mindset - which will have even BIGGER consequences on how her body births baby. This works both ways - so POSITIVE words can support mum for birth and they too will have an effect on how her body reacts - but in good ways!
"Don't worry" is going to focus her mind on the word worry, which will make her feel more worried and then she'll become tense. Instead say ''you're doing AMAZING'' or tell her you love her, tell her that she’s going to meet her baby soon and what a total powerhouse she is! These positive reinforcements will keep her in a safe and strong mindset so she can birth her baby.
FOUR. Prepare. Prepare for labour, prepare for your transition to hospital, or your home birth when it starts. Test run that birth pool! What does Mum want to happen? Can you call the hospital for her when the time comes to go? Can you plan the journey, load the car, work out where you need to go ahead of time? So that you can handle all of the practical elements and Mum can keep herself calm and relaxed - not getting involved with the logistics or what's happening around her and instead focusing on her surges and birthing her baby.
Helping Mum to stay focused and calm during a transition will ensure her labour continues and doesn't slow. Mum needs you to be in control at this point and we'll talk through lots of great ways to make sure you're prepared on the course.
FIVE Practice your relaxations. You don't need to be able to recite the KGH visualisations to Mum, but you do need to know how to bring her back to a calm, focused and relaxed state if she becomes anxious or fearful.
Practice the breathing techniques with her, listen to the audios, get familiar - so that you can re-focus her if she needs you too and so that you can tell by listening if she's forgetting to breathe properly. Check your own breathing too because Mum will follow your rhythm.
A great way to get ideas about how you can support your partner is to watch positive birth videos and read positive birth stories - Look at what the partners, doulas and midwives do to support mum, take not of the environment and think about how you can do the same. Most importantly, watch the videos with mum and find out what she likes (and doesn’t) Watching birth videos is also a great way to prepare for what to expect. Although, that doesn’t mean watch One Born Every Minute - this dramatised, anxiety filled show is NOT the way to prepare for birth so please avoid!
Don’t panic, you’ve both got this!
If you have any questions about the techniques, or want to know more about other relaxation techniques for pregnancy & birth you could book a BIRTH HOUR appointment with us, for a short, effective and informative hour of birth coaching. Details can be found here.
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