Tips for Birth Partners - Preparing For Birth Manual

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• Stay calm and relaxed. Be there for her. The adrenalin levels of those near a birthing women can be enough to make her adrenalin levels increase. So you need to keep breathing and relaxing as well! Practice this!

• Remember you are there to support her through birth; watch her closely, anticipate her needs. Be responsive to her signals (verbal or through body language as she may not communicate verbally so well once in established labour).

• Respect her changing needs (touch / don’t touch, talk / silence). Go with her flow - be there to support her. Give her freedom to make noise, choices and to move around.

• Keep her well hydrated - little sips of water in between contractions. Encourage her to change positions and guide her through the breathing techniques. But follow her lead. Observe. Don’t take offence at anything she may say – there will be times when she will need privacy and to focus inwards, it’s not personal. Encourage her to also go for a wee every 1.5-2hours.

• You can administer homeopathic remedies as may be needed, if this is something you have discussed and agreed together in advance. If you are going to do this, avoid saying “You are exhausted / grumpy / stressed, so I’m giving you this to help”. This may just impress upon her that she is in fact exhausted, grumpy or stressed, and she may get fixated on that and lose focus or strength - especially if in her mind, she was feeling fine. Better just to administer the remedy quietly and observe its effects.

• Once you’ve arrived at the hospital / birth centre be her intermediary and advocate. Be familiar with her Birth Wish list and try to instigate her requests, i.e. dimmed lights, candles, playlist, water. If you sense that there are suddenly too many people in the room, be by her side and listen for her, communicate her wishes. Her energy will need to stay focused.

Here are some suggested encouragements you can offer or ways you can support her at the different stages of labour:

Between contractions:

▪ Encourage her relax by taking a breath in and a really long exhale out (a big relaxing sigh) after each contraction. Do the breathing with her if needed. ▪ Encourage her to soften the shoulders, the face, the jaw, the eyes. To relax fully and let go of any tension in the body. Try some light touch massage and cuddles.

▪ Try to make her smile, or even laugh! You could try reading something funny to her. ▪ And most importantly, let her know how brilliantly she is doing, and how proud you are: “You’re doing so well”, “I love you” etc.

During contractions:

▪ Give her space, let her focus and do her thing - often your calm, safe presence is enough.

▪ When you sense she needs support, encourage her with words to go with it, to visualise the mountain or the wave as the contraction peaks, to keep breathing. Be positive, calm and gently encouraging. Try some massage or a gentle pressure on the sacrum at the base of the spine.

If things slow down…:

▪ Get some loving going on! Cuddle, get intimate, massage, nipple stimulation, smiles, feel the LOVE between you. Remember, it took love to create the baby and quite literally oxytocin, so it’s no wonder it takes a bit of love to give birth too!!! Reassure and provide that safe, secure space she needs to let go in.

Transition:

This stage may be very obvious to you, birthing women can change considerably during this phase. (One woman I knew suddenly became obsessed her handbag was going to be stolen while they were at the hospital and went to hide it under the kitchen table - at which point her partner said, we have to go, NOW!). You may need to do the Take Charge Routine.

▪ She may be teary or angry - give her space to express her emotions. Let her, just let it out.

▪ Encourage figure of 8 movements on all fours which are incredibly hypnotic and grounding and some breathing together.

▪ Lots of eye contact to reassure and provide a feeling of connection and safety - eye contact will also increase her oxytocin levels back up.

During the birthing/crowning:

▪ Encourage her to breathe love down to the baby, to breathe a clear path for the baby, make it smooth and open her body and “breathe the baby out.”

▪ Verbally encourage her (“YES, YES, you’re opening”,” You’re doing fine, you are doing it”, “The baby is coming. You are doing so well. You can do this. You are doing this.”)

▪ Encourage her to touch her baby’s head.