The majority of the time, when we speak about preparing for pregnancy, we're speaking to Mamas. With the little one growing in their tummies, it's no surprise that Mamas get offered the bulk of the advice surrounding baby's arrival. Therefore, despite the countless forums and online groups designed to connect and share tips around pregnancy, there's not a lot of information out there on how to be a good birthing partner. Or should we rephrase, the best birthing partner possible?
Fear not, we have you covered. Whether you're a Mama-to-be looking for subtle hints to give your partner, or you're the significant other trying to do the best you can, here's how to be a good birthing partner.
How to support your partner during pregnancy
Let's begin with sharing some steps on how to support your partner during pregnancy.
As you can imagine, Mama will be going through a lot of hormonal changes at this point. Whether you are a first-time dad or a birthing partner, it's important to be sufficiently prepared to help in every way you can These hormonal changes can make the journey a little tough on her. As a birthing partner, it's your job to do all you can to make it as smooth sailing as possible.
- Morning sickness: An important way how to support your partner during pregnancy is to pay attention to the changes she may be feeling and experiencing. If one of those is morning sickness, make her a simple snack like dry toast for breakfast. Encourage her to eat small, frequent meals of plain, carby foods to keep the energy levels up but nausea at bay.
- Feeling sluggish: Do not, we repeat, do not make Mama exercise if she doesn't feel up for it. However, if she feels particularly sluggish, you could subtly encourage her to go outside for some light exercise. Do so in a way that is non-invasive or pushy. For example, buy her a yoga mat and practice yoga together, or go on a walk (perhaps with an incentive to get snacks).
- Achiness: Offer her a massage. You can either treat her to a professional one, or DIY. Rub away her build-up of stress in the shoulders or feet with the Tummy Rub Oil.
- Stress: The whole thing can get understandably overwhelming. Help her stay calm and organized by supporting her with her birth plan. Talk through it together if she wants, so you know her preferred birth choices like the back of your hand.
- Feeling tired: Finally, one of the most important ways to support your partner during pregnancy is, of course, with the household chores. Encourage Mama to rest up and save her energy while you take on the hoovering and the dishes!
How to support your partner during labor
As you reach the end of your journey, it is no longer about how to support your partner during pregnancy. Instead, it's all about how to support your partner during labor.
- Recognize when it's happening: The first sign of labor is the water breaking. Labour usually starts within 12 hours of Mama's water breaking, although contractions can often start before the water breaks.
- Keep track of contractions: They happen at regular intervals, with each one arriving quicker, lasting longer, and feeling stronger. Time the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next. Once Mama is experiencing one every 5 minutes and they are lasting 45 to 60 seconds, call her doctor or midwife. Their guidance will make sure that you follow the right steps, whether you're heading to the hospital or planning a birth from home.
- Remind yourself of the birthing plan: The best way how to be a good birthing partner is to constantly remind yourself of anything Mama has asked you to do. Does she want classical music played during labor? What are the must-haves in her hospital bag? You could also go the extra mile and include the shower milk and nipple balm
- Plan the hospital route: If Mama has a preferred route, adhere to it. Despite the yelling and stress that may be occurring, drive slowly and calmly. If you're pulling over for contractions, put on your hazards. Know where you are parking, and know what entrance you're arriving in. Some differ depending on the time of the day or night, so assess all entrances at different times!
- Support her decisions: From the pain relief she chooses to what position she wants to give birth in, the most important way how to support your partner during labor is by supporting her decisions. Even if it differs from what's in the birth plan, if the midwife says it's safe, go with it!
- Be prepared: Some babies are born quickly, others don't arrive until 12-16 hours. It's important for you to be on top form, so bring snacks for yourself too, and a pillow to nap when you get the chance. Plus, don't forget a phone charger! You might want to share the news with your family and friends when the time comes, and capture that beautiful moment when Mama first holds baby in her arms.
Now that we have covered all the steps of how to be a good birthing partner, you can move forward in confidence, knowing you've got Mama's back. To delve into all that's yet to come, why not take a look at our Midwife’s Guide to the 3rd Trimester, the final 3 months of the pregnancy journey!
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