Sometimes it can be really hard for your partner or birth support person who is a friend or family member to see you in pain during labour.
Having the right people there can really make a difference with the outcome of your birth.
Let’s be clear here – the most important person in that birthing suite is you!
If your support team doesn’t like to see you in pain, they may suggest or encourage you to have pain relief and this can be a real disappointment for you if you have been preparing for a natural birth with no interventions.
They are also more likely to just agree with what your care providers are suggesting rather than asking questions so that you can discuss options and make an informed choice based on your wants and needs.
This is more important than you might think, because if your partner is not educated and fully prepared and feeling confident, or if they have experienced a traumatic birth previously, then they are going to have fear.
That fear is going to disturb the beautiful flow of positive energy in your birth space, which means you are going to spend more time in the neocortex part of your brain worrying and comforting them rather than spending your labour ensuring you are working with your own body and baby to birth.
Which is what you have been perfectly designed to do.
Fear is what interrupts this normal flow of a physiological labour and birth.
It is really important to discuss your feelings and your wants and needs with your partner and birth support people before you go into labour, so they understand that if you want pain relief or interventions then you will ask for it.
When you ask for pain relief it is your choice, but when you are offered pain relief this can also be a form of coercion by your health care providers. It is important that you make it clear in your birth plan that you are not to be offered pain relief, but you will ask for it when you want it once you have utilised all the options in your birthing toolkit.
This gives your partner or birth support people an opportunity to use some of the tools and techniques they have learnt during their independent childbirth classes such as massage, acupressure, counter pressure and hip squeezes along with affirmations and encouragement and so much more, to get you through your surges and prepare you for the next ones.
During your labour and birth, you need to be aware of all your options, and make choices based on what feels right for you. Once you know all your options you will feel so much more at ease, and your partners will as well.
This is where you consider the role of the partner and support people at your birth.
Firstly, they need to trust in the labour and birth process.
They need to have done their own homework in preparing themselves for what to expect, what each stage of labour looks like and how they can be of benefit to you.
They will also need to be committed to giving way beyond anything they have ever given before for sometimes an incredibly long time. The role of the partner or birth support person can be a very demanding and spontaneous one.
For example, at the last birth I supported, the one thing that helped the labouring mum feel totally in control and eased the discomfort she was feeling in her lower back and pelvis during a surge was the double hip squeeze. Between her husband and I we spent several hours swapping over and doing this – and every time we stopped for a rest she would demand we keep going. We were both exhausted and it certainly gave our arms and chest a good work out – but if your birth support people are not educated, then they won’t know this is a tool they can use to give her comfort and pain relief. This technique was instrumental in that mum not having an epidural or drugs for pain relief.
Your partner or birth support person needs to be able to provide you with physical, mental and emotional support for a very long period of time, or they may just have to sit back and leave you alone.
My favourite saying at births is “if it doesn’t appear broken then don’t try and fix it” and this is important because you don’t want your partner or birth support person to be annoying either.
They also need to be your advocate and your security guard to remove any disturbances that might affect your birth space.
They need to be your conduit between the medical model and the alternatives.
If they don’t want to attend independent childbirth classes to be the very best support person they can be for you, then you need to seriously consider having a Doula there to support both of you during labour and birth and the immediate postpartum period.
The way you are treated during your labour and birth will have a huge impact on your postpartum recovery, therefore having the best support people there to help you feel strong, confident and safe is extremely beneficial.
This is what one of my clients said about her husband attending my Hypnobirthing Australia classes:
“My husband also feels very much a part of the process now as a valuable support person who is just as informed about labour, birth and my rights as I am.”
Although women have been birthing since the beginning of time, birth itself in western cultures has changed, becoming more medicalised and clinical.
Here’s what another of my past clients said:
“The hypnobirthing techniques helped me keep calm through the 17-hour labour, and the education side of the course meant we felt empowered throughout when things didn’t go to plan and we had to deviate from our preferences. My husband in particular raves about this course to any expectant dads, as he liked that he left the course with so much knowledge of how to be the best supportive birth partner possible.”
If you want to have a calm, gentle birth no matter how you birth, then you need to educate and prepare yourself for this by attending independent childbirth education like Hypnobirthing Australia™ classes, but your partners and birth support people need to be even more educated and prepared to provide you with the very best support, comfort and encouragement and to really push you to your limits – just like a coach of a football team playing in the grand final.
Remember too, you are a woman, and you are stronger than you think you are.
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Australia™ Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach. I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted by email by [email protected] or phone (08) 9303 9111.