Have you ever seen a woman in labor? If you have, then you may know that the intensity of what a laboring woman is experiencing can be so great that her support team can fumble and in fact, be the ones in need of support. Sometimes, sitting with someone in their pain is harder than trying “all the things” to reduce it or wish it away! And sometimes, it may be what leads mom to an early epidural in labor when she may not have really needed it.
But what if you could legitimately provide support and help a laboring woman achieve the birth she desires? The good news is that you can.
Here are the 5 tools for a partner to help during labor:
Muscle observation. Take a look at mom’s face. Is it tight, clenched? Notice her jaw and throat. If it’s tightly closed or clenched, this will directly impact how tight and clenched the rest of her body is, particularly her cervix, which needs to open and soften in order for baby to come down through the birth canal and be born. Gently encourage her to relax her jaw. If she’s not in a mood to be talked to, gently place your hand or fingers on the area that is tense to help remind her to relax.
Sound out contractions with her. Women can make interesting sounds during labor. However, sometimes moms go silent in labor as they internally work through labor, and need reminding to feel the freedom to sound out their labor. This can be unnerving for women who “don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable,” so help open the door for her by sounding out the labor sounds with her. Low moaning, groaning, or “ohmmm” noises may really help her relax and let go.
Get her in the water. Often called the “aqua-dural,” the water has a unique way of helping a woman cope with the intensities of labor. Whether it’s a shower with focused pressure at various points on her back or belly, or the bathtub, the water really helps a woman relax, and may help you relax too.
Keep things interesting. Just like in your relationship, variety is a good thing and it’s the same with labor. Every 30 or so minutes, suggest mom makes a position change. If she’s been leaning against the wall or the bed, suggest she walk or take low squats. If she’s been in the water, suggest she lean backwards against the toilet. These subtle shifts in her movement help her from getting stuck in labor and bring baby closer to delivery.
Maybe most importantly, be aware of the environment and people in the room. Is the room too cold? Too bright? Are the people in there supporting and providing relief, or bringing tension and doubtfulness? It’s totally within your prerogative to act as a bouncer and tell others to leave or give mom some privacy for a few minutes. Even better--send them out get snacks or treats for the birth center or hospital staff--always a nice touch!
And, really, the best way to help mom in labor is to learn more about childbirth and labor. Not only will this ease any insecurities or questions you have, it will be a bonding experience as you prepare for childbirth and a new baby.
To learn even more tips related to supporting mom during labor, check out one of our Birth Boot Camp classes, offered in Tampa, Atlanta and Decatur.