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Are you up for the role of birth partner?

March 20, 2017

 

Are you interested in hypnobirthing classes but your partner just doesn’t see why they need to come too? Perhaps you are reading all the pregnancy and birth books, but getting your partner on board is a struggle? If this is you, then please ask your partner to just read this one post. Here they will learn why their role is so important, exactly how they can help you during labour, and why if they don’t think they are up for the job then they need to let you know.

 

Do you think that you have an important role to play in your partners labour and birth? Do you think you can have an impact on how your baby comes into the world?

 

I have spoken to many women who tell me that their partners are not keen to attend hypnobirthing classes. Aside from providing a hand to squeeze, maybe uttering a few words of support, and cutting the cord - many partners feel that they don’t really have much of a role in the arrival of their baby.

 

For many partners, even if they did want to help, they often don’t know what to do, and don’t want to get in the way of the midwives, or annoy their partner while she’s having a contraction. I’m sure you’ve heard those stories about women swearing at their partners and slapping their hands away!

 

So, is there really a role for birth partners? Can they really make that much of a difference?

 

My answer is absolutely yes!!! 

 

I honestly cannot put into words how much of a difference partner support can make. Along with knowledge and preparation, birth partner support is a key part of achieving a positive birth experience.  I absolutely love caring for a woman in labour when her partner is attentive, caring and providing physical and emotional support – because I know that she will manage so much better!

 

Let’s start with choosing a birth partner. For many women it is assumed that this will be the husband or partner. For others, it may be their sister, a close friend or a doula. It doesn’t matter who your support person is, as long as they take their role seriously. I recommend that women actually ask their partner if they are up to having the role of birth support person. I’m not recommending that they shouldn’t be there if they say ‘no’, but perhaps in this situation it would be good to choose an additional person who will 100% be there to support you, both emotionally and physically throughout your journey.

 

I am all about choice, and I know that if a partner doesn’t feel that they can be a good support person then they probably won’t be! And we shouldn’t just assume that they are happy to have this role, or pressure them into this if they are not comfortable. Now this is definitely not an escape for husbands and partners! You played a role in creating this baby, and I would love to see you take an active role during labour and birth. All you need is a willingness to learn, a few practical tips, and a commitment to being the best support person that you can be for your partner. Its not a hard job, but it does take commitment.

 

Can my support really make that much of a difference?

 

Research shows that women who receive continuous support and care throughout labour are less likely to need pain relief, or have major interventions, such as caesarean sections, forceps or ventouse. Studies have also found that women are more likely to be satisfied with their birth experience. 

 

You may be the only person in the room who is familiar to your partner. Your continuous support and reassurance makes her feel safe and supported – two things that her body needs to labour and birth effectively.

 

So yes, your support really can make a difference to how your partner feels during her birth, and how easily and effectively her body labours. 

 

If you’re up for the important role of birth partner, here are some of my top tips for preparing:

 

  • Understand the process of labour and the different stages, as well as some of the common interventions that may be suggested. 

  • Remember that birth is a natural, physiological process that women were designed to do, not a medical emergency.

  • Discuss with your partner both of your hopes and wishes for your birth. 

  • Watch some positive birth videos and take note of the birth partners role.

  • Create a birth plan/preferences together and ensure that you understand it so that you can advocate for her if necessary. 

  • Brainstorm together physical and emotional ways that you can support her during labour. Even simple things like regularly offering icy water are great! 

  • Learn some massage or acupressure techniques that you can use during labour (the hip squeeze is a great one that you can learn more about here)

  • When labour begins make her feel comfortable, safe and loved. This will help her to relax and allow her body to labour effectively.

  • If at all possible attend antenatal classes with your partner.

 

 

I think many partners come to my hypnobirthing course quite sceptical, thinking that it will be a waste of time (and potentially money!), but by the end they are usually the biggest advocates of hypnobirthing and recommend it to their friends and family! I absolutely love seeing this transformation in the partners, and know they they will go on to be brilliant at their role!  

 

 

 

A recent study has found that educational sessions could help men feel more confident in their role and enable them to provide better support (Wockel et al. 2007). I am proud to be able to teach a course that involves partners so much, and I truly do believe that the Hypnobirthing Australia course really prepares partners to be the best possible support person that they can be.

 

In another large study of fathers (Singh and Newburn 2000), over a third of the men said that they did not have adequate information about the birth. They wanted more information on coping strategies, what to expect, and moving around in labour (all things that I cover in the course).

 

Partners also receive the ‘Birth Partners Cheat Sheet’ to keep handy so that you always have ideas for ways that you can support your partner. Super helpful so you don’t forget when things start getting intense, or if labour progresses quickly! Note: Don't accidentally leave your cheat sheet at home!  

 

Now that you know how much of an impact you can have during your partners labour and birth, you’re ready to start training for the big day! Good luck! I know that if you really give your all and put in the preparation you will be a fantastic support partner. If you feel that hypnobirthing would help both you and your partner prepare for birth please contact me to join one of my group or private classes.

 

Did you feel prepared to be a support partner for birth? For any dads out there who have done a hypnobirthing course was it worth it? Would you recommend it to other expectant fathers? 

 

 

References:

Singh D, Newburn M (2000) Becoming a father: men’s access to information and support about pregnancy, birth, and life with a new baby. London: National Childbirth Trust

 

Wockel A, Schafer E, Beggel A, et al. (2007) Getting ready for birth: impending fatherhood. British Journal of Midwifery 15(6): 344-8

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