It wasn’t that long ago that the “dads” (which I will now refer to as “Birth Partners” because they aren’t always dads) were not allowed into the birthing room when their dear wives were giving birth. They had to either wait in the hospital waiting room or stay at home (or perhaps they visited the local bar) as they anxiously waited for the news letting them know that they were officially a father. Cigars were handed out and they eventually were allowed to see the baby. My how times have changed!
Now, it is EXPECTED that the birth partner not only be present in the room when his or her partner is giving birth, but they are expected to be there throughout the whole process, and to know exactly what to do in order to support their partners through this amazing and sometimes very challenging experience. We’ve kind of just thrown them in there and left them to flounder their way through, figuring it out as they go.
Now, some birth partners are A-MAZ-ING!!! They know exactly what their partner needs and are right in there doing what needs to be done when it needs doing. Others, it seems, are a bit more hands off and are not at all comfortable in that situation and are probably wishing that it was still like it was years ago when all that was expected of them was to hand out some cigars.
But guys, your partner needs you! She needs your hand to hold… Your chest to rest her head… Your voice to soothe and encourage her… Your eyes to gaze into and focus on as she lets another wave overtake her body… Your hands to provide comfort, through massage and tender touch… Your gentle reminders to eat, drink, change positions, and visit the little girls room… Your voice of reason and support if things veer off onto a different path than she had hoped… Your level head to be able to ask questions and help her make important decisions… Your ability to protect her and hold her space, making sure she is feeling respected and that her voice is being heard… And your strong body to support her as she melts into you and you enfold her in your loving arms. She needs you to be her SUPERHERO!!!
How do I do that?… you might be wondering. Well here are some pointers:
1. First of all, STAY CALM, COOL and COLLECTED! Fake it if you have to. She needs to be able to look at you and know that you are okay and that you have her back. Getting worked up, anxious, or worried is not going to do anyone any good.
2. Create a birthing oasis! Adjust the environment as much as possible to encourage serenity and relaxation. Dim the lights, put on some relaxing music (if she is okay with that), light some candles, silence your phones, turn off the TV (unless she wants it as a distraction), and make sure no one is there that doesn’t have to be.
3. Keep the exciting news that things have started to yourself. Don’t be tempted to text family and friends, letting them know that it is baby time. They will want continuous updates and your phone will be beeping and buzzing until baby comes. It’s best to only inform those that need to know!
4. Keep your partner as comfortable as possible. Draw her a bath, massage any areas of tension, use lots of pillows, encourage her to rest if she’s able, and suggest a change in positions every now and then. Get her up and moving once in a while. Go for a walk with her. Outside is best if weather allows, but a mall will even do, depending on how far along she is.
5. Feed her and keep her well-hydrated.
6. Time her contractions every now and then. No need to do it all the time. Just see what the pattern is over and hour or so and then stop timing them until you see a noticeable change. It’s best to focus on HER and not her contractions for hours upon hours.
7. Encourage her to relax her body and totally let go during every contraction and help her breathe with slow deep breaths.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask her how she needs you to help her. Every woman is different and her needs may change as you go. You can’t be expected to be a mind reader so communicate with each other as things progress.
9. Try not to be tempted to rush to the hospital (if that’s where you’re having baby) right away. They will just send you right back home. Plus, she will be much more comfortable in her own environment. It’s usually best to stay home as long as possible.
10. AND FOR GOODNESS SAKES, HIRE A DOULA! You’re her superhero, but even superheros have side-kicks, so let someone else take the pressure off of your shoulders so you can more fully enjoy the experience and better support your partner.
A doula is not there to take over your vital role… We are there to enhance it. One important part of my job is to MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD. A doula is there to guide you when needed and to help you know what to do through the whole process (among doing a myriad of other useful things). I find out ahead of time what your comfort level is and what expectations the birthing mother has of you. We then work as an efficient, well-oiled team to ensure she is very well supported throughout the entire process. It is very reassuring for you both to know that I’ve got your backs and am there for both of you to help it be a positive experience for all!
Comforting Hands Doula Services offers Birth Doula Services, as well as Hypnobabies Prenatal Education. Connect with Ricky on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and Instagram!
Bump and Baby is a resource to connect new moms in Edmonton, Alberta and surrounding areas (including, but not limited to, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc and Beaumont) with local Doulas offering birth support and Prenatal Classes.
Images provided by: Comforting Hands