Partner Support in labour – Do’s and Don’ts
By; Renee Adair
So, you have found out you and your wife/partner are having a baby, and in amongst all of the joy and possible shock of discovering you are going to be a parent, you suddenly cast your mind forward to the day of the birth. Hmmmmm.
Interestingly for men today, we are only one generation in when it comes to dads being fully present at birth and women having the expectation that their partner/hubby will be their all-knowing, amazing labour support person.
There is no doubt the thought of this can be a big challenge for some guys, as they feel thrust into a world of secret women’s business, feeling out of their depth and possibly helpless.
I do agree that men and partners in the labour room play an important role, however, in order to be the best support they can, education is key. I also believe that support for them is a consideration as they are also in a major life transition.
Labour is designed in such a way that it asks a lot of the labouring woman and her partner.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that not all men are cut out for this gig and I do believe that men should only be present at a labour if they want to be. A distracted, uncomfortable man in the labour space brings a counterproductive energy that can add an unwelcomed tension to the space.
Raising the questions about how much involvement a partner wants and what expectations the mother to be has for this journey, is a must for couples to have prior to the event.
In many cultures’ men are still not expected nor allowed in the labour space and in fact it’s not even a consideration. Some prefer and operate really well if they can come and go over the course of the labour and are fully present for the birth and others I have seen, catch their baby.
So, there is no right or wrong and it should be up to each couple to design how much involvement a partner is going to have on the day their baby arrives.
Here are some support Dos and Don’ts when at a labour and birth:
• Get educated – seek out independent childbirth education where men are included and are given hands on skills.
• Offer encouragement – And lots of it!
• Listen – Just listen, resist the urge to ‘fix it’.
• Validate – Everything!
• Trust in the birthing process and your partners ability to birth your baby.
• Offer drinks and massage.
• Provide Loving touch.
• Take breaks if needed.
• Be patient.
• Advocate for your wife/partner/baby if needed.
• Be interested – it’s your baby’s birthday.
• Watch the TV (if sadly there is one in the birthing room).
• Be on the phone/social media.
• Talk about anything in length other than the experience you are in.
• Eat large meals in the space.
• Talk to your partner/wife during a contraction.
• Take anything personally or be offended by anything that maybe directed at you at the time.
• Try to ‘fix’ or rush anything – labour and birth is a normal, natural process that can take time.
This is your baby’s birthday and an experience both parents will remember for the rest of their lives. Enjoy it!