For any couple getting close to having their baby, it can be quite daunting for them both. A mum will be facing one of the most amazing, challenging and powerful experiences of her life. Her body will be flooded with amazing hormones and she will discover a strength and power that she never knew she had.
For many men or birth partners, the experience can be very daunting as they do not have the benefit of all those amazing hormones and yet they are expected to fully “be there” and support her. Even though Prince William has been through this once, he may still have concerns and worries.
So to give all birth partners, including Prince William, a helping hand here are my top tips:-
- Agree in advance what she would like you to do (and NOT do) during the labour.
- Go through her birth plan so you can fully understand what she does and does not want in terms of intervention and pain relief.
- Talk through any fears or concerns you have about the birth either with your partner or with a friend. By addressing your concerns now, you will be more able to support her during the birth.
- During the more serious part of labour keep all “extra sensory stimulation” to a minimum. This includes bright lights, people, noise, and talking. The less stimulation she has, the more she can relax, focus and stay in control
- Avoid her feeling “observed” – extra people in the room, fetal monitoring, cameras, and videos. When she is feeling observed, she can not fully relax and “let go”. Imagine how you would feel having someone watch you doing your morning ****!
- Encourage her to breathe quietly and rhythmically through each contraction. By mastering her breathing, she will stay on top of the sensations and be more in control
- Help her visualize during contractions by saying one-word phrases connected to past holidays, happy memories or places you have visited. It is useful to discuss a few of these in advance.
- Encourage her to move around and find different positions
- If she likes it, massage the lower part of her back, her feet and her head. If she asks you to stop, do not be offended!
- Do not ask her lots of questions. Anticipate what she might want and then offer it. This can include offer her sips of water rather than ask her if she wants a drink
- Be totally there for her, listen to her and love her – do not judge her or take anything personally. She may act out of character, or say things she would not normally say. What ever happens, just go with it.
- Be confident and assertive with the medical staff. You are her spokesperson. If they begin suggesting intervention ask, “Is my wife or baby in danger?”. If the answer is no, then ask for another 30 minutes on your own to think and come to a decision.
- If she begins to doubt herself, continue to encourage her even more. It is a sign that you are close to meeting your baby – this is a stage called transition.
- Bring in something to keep her warm, especially after the baby is born e.g. her duvet, dressing gown or a blanket – hospital ones are not that great!
- Eat and drink plenty of fluids so you keep up your own strength.
To learn more about things a birth partner can do to support the mum to be read chapter 5 of the Effective Birth Preparation book