Today's post is authored by Emerald Doulas co-owner and experienced birth doula, Melanie Patrick.
Childbirth class? Check. Reading completed? Check. Tennis balls, LED candles, and your hospital bag ready to go? Check. We're all set for the big day!
But wait, there's more.
Your relationship with your birthing partner is unique. No one knows her like you do, so she’ll rely on you more than she does on anyone else. Here are five things you can do to be a great birth partner:
- Love on her
Oxytocin is an amazing hormone known as “the cuddle hormone.” It promotes bonding, warm fuzzies, and oh yea, triggers powerful orgasms. Birth requires oxytocin because it causes and regulates uterine contractions. Oxytocin is released when you kiss and hug and touch her and help her feel delicious! One of your first jobs in birth is to help her feel as relaxed as possible; stroke her arms, her face, give her a gentle back rub. If she’s feeling up to it, ask for privacy and maybe even make out a little!
Stay off the phone
Everyone who knows the baby is on the way can’t wait to hear from you. Excitement can turn to anxiousness for eager friends and family, who are hungry for updates. But, every moment you’re texting family members about the latest cervical exam is a moment you’re not plugged in to your partner! Some of our clients opt not to tell anyone that labor has started. Some wait until pushing begins (then family doesn’t have so long to wait . . . or to text!). Others only notify family when the baby has arrived. Whichever you decide is the best way for your partner, stick to it. Put the phones away and get back into your birthy bubble!
Ignore the machines
I know, they are absolutely mesmerizing! They’re colorful, they beep, and you can get an idea of what might be going on with your baby and your partner... or so you think! The rising and falling hills you see are actually showing up a few seconds after they're felt by the laboring person experiencing them. More importantly, they don’t tell you how strong or effective each contraction is, nor does the screen tell you how well she’s coping with them. You’ll get much more information by turning your attention back to your partner. You’ll notice her breathing will likely change when a contraction is starting, and her face will soften when it’s ending. Connect with her, breathe along with her. Hold her hands and focus on her and you will know how she’s doing. And when she opens her eyes you’ll be right there, looking at her, ready to smile and give her encouragement!
Be her BRAIN
When in active labor, birthing people go deep. Your partner may keep their eyes closed, they might not want to talk, they will probably groan. Answering questions and making decisions can be difficult, if not impossible for them. They’ll need you to be their advocate. Remember the BRAIN questions! (Benefits Risks Alternatives Intuition and Not now) Asking these questions when faced with an intervention will help you get the information you need to make an informed decision that feels right for your family.
Hire a doula
Having a doula will make you a better birthing partner! That birthing class you took gave you tons of information but you’ll probably only remember a fraction of it on your Birthing Day. Your doula will be your memory. She’ll (silently) remind you to offer your partner water every few minutes. She can update your family, if need be, so you can stay off the phone (see Thing #2). She’ll run to get the ice water and blankets so you can stay right where you want to be. And, when you need a break to eat, use the bathroom, or to take a nap, you can relax knowing that your partner isn’t alone. They're with someone who knows your birth goals and is there to help you both achieve them. Your doula can also reassure you of what's normal in birth, and help prompt you to ask deeper questions or get more information. Knowing that, you can relax and be present in the moment with your partner, witnessing and taking part in the birth of your child. Together.