How to rock the Birth Partner role
Going through labour can be the most empowering but challenging process a person can experience. Rarely is labour predictable, and there is no such thing as a “text book” labour. I like to explain to clients that labour is “the most important thing that you have the least amount of control over.” But in the midst of the uncertainty, having a person by your side providing labour support can feel like a lifeline.
I remember with my second labour, my husband’s hands on my back somehow finding a spot that made the pain almost bearable. In the short break between contractions he was frantically trying to fill the birth pool (we never did get it filled before I needed to push), call the midwives, set up the bedroom and keep me calm (well try, I found screaming really helped my process).
So what does it take to be a successful birth partner
First, remember that your primary job is to be their cheerleader. In the midst of the pain of contractions it can be really easy to get discouraged. Your job is to say things like “you got this.” “I believe in you,” “you are strong.” Remind them that they won’t be in pain for forever (even though it can feel like it) and that there’s a prize at the end. Stay positive and encouraging.
It’s hard not to go into labour without some expectations. Maybe you were both hoping to avoid 36 hours of labour, or forgot to add “we would prefer to avoid copious amounts of vomiting” to your birth plan. Sometimes an epidural wasn’t in the plan, but now might be an option to consider. Or the plan was for an epidural, but now there’s no time. Either way, it can be hard when labour goes sideways. In these moments, the birth partner can step up and encourage them to trust the process and go with the flow.
And in the midst of it all, don’t forget to:
Take a break/get a breather
Rest and eat
Act as the bouncer (rest is more important than visits for the first bit)
Enjoy the process
In the movies, the person is labour is shown screaming expletives at their partner (as in, “you did this to me!”). In reality that is rarely true. Expletives might be screamed, but rarely at anyone. Most of the time, the person in labour relies on the birth partner to be their rock. The experience can be very bonding and meaningful. If you can go in knowing how to be supportive and encouraging, you’re already ahead of the game.