Supporting your partner through labour is daunting at any time, but during COVID-19 and in this time of uncertainty, it’s even more challenging. Here, we share some strategies to help pregnant women and dads-to-be handle the birthing process, thanks to childbirth educator, doula and co-creator of About Birth, Jules Brooks.
With pre-natal classe cancelled, and limits on the number of support people allowed in birthing suites, many pregnant women may feeling worried about delivering their babies, and having the right team around them to offer support.
But for dads-to-be, partners, or anyone chosen as birthing support it can be particularly hard to know just what is expected during this time of uncertainty.
8 tips on supporting your partner through labour (during COVID-19)
1. Feel the love, love, love! Oxytocin the Love Hormone!
Oxytocin is known as the hormone of love and it’s also the hormone that creates contractions, and to birth a baby we need contractions!
Women release this hormone when they feel loved – so the more you can love you can shower on your woman, the more oxytocin she will make, the calmer she will feel and the better the experience for everyone. She is doing an amazing job bringing your baby into the world, so jump on the love train and show her how you feel.
2. Education = Knowledge = Power
Get some quality education. Most people’s impression of birth is what we see in a Hollywood movie, which is one of panic and fear, which is far from reality. So understanding the process and seeing birth as a ‘normal physiological process’ can help reduce the fear of the unknown.
Given that face-to-face hospital classes are no longer an option for expectant parents, online learning is a wonderful alternative. Online programs offer credible birth education, simply delivered online.
About Birth’s video-based program even has a special education section just for partners to guide you on how to support your partner through birth.
3. Remind her to breathe!
As a birth educator, I tell partners if you can only doone thing to help during the labour it would be: remind her to breathe.
Breathing deeply is one of the best tools you can use in whatever type of birth your partner is experiencing. Whether she is working with the contractions or is having a spinal put in for a caesarean, remind her to breathe – and breathe the right way. Forget the huffing and puffing that you see on TV, slow deep breaths are the way to go, concentrating on breathing through the nose and out through your nose.
Practicing your own breathing and using it as a tool to help with staying present can help your nervous system stay calm and relaxed.
4. Bring the calm
Birthing is an intense experience and your partner will feed off your energy. So get back to your education, and understand that birth is a normal physiological process. Staying calm will help your woman stay calm.
5. Help set the ambience
Many women prefer a dark intimate space to labour in, so it’s your job to set the scene, whether she chooses this or another vibe.
Keep lights turned down, play calm music and try to keep the room warm. Having a chilled out space will help everyone to stay more relaxed.
6. Don’t forget the power of touch
Touch can be a great way to connect with a woman in labour. Think about connecting through touch, using:
- A gentle touch on the shoulders and neck
- A firmer pressure on the lower back.
- Cold face washers on the forehead and back of the neck
At the end of the day, be guided by your partner and allow her to communicate her needs with you, or encourage her to lead the way.
7. Look after yourself
Be sure to take breaks. Birth can take a long time and there can often be a lot of waiting. It can even be boring! Remember to keep eating (especially through the night) and stay hydrated. Look after yourself, so that you can look after your partner throughout the duration of her labour.
8. Don’t skip skin on skin
When the baby finally arrives, the best place for it to be after birth is on the mother’s chest, a time known as the ‘Golden Hour’.. This contact helps increase two critical hormones, oxytocin and prolactin.
- Oxytocin helps with birthing the placenta
- Prolactin helps a new mum connect, fall in love with her baby and produce breast milk
But don’t forget, it’s also important for partners to have skin on skin contact with their baby.
Some of the benefits include stabilising the baby’s body temperature and helping to reduce newborn stress.
If mum had a caesarean and can’t have skin on skin with the baby straight away, whip your top off and place the baby on your chest Another great opportunity is after mum and baby have had that first breastfeed; wrap yourself up with your baby whilst mum has a shower or something to eat. It will be the start of a wonderful love affair that will last forever.
Jules Brooks is a Childbirth Educator, Doula and Co-Creator of About Birth, Australia’s leading online birth education program. The self-paced program is delivered by video modules and downloadable resources and covers everything a couple needs to know about giving birth, including the stages of labour, support, breathing, massage, positions, drugs, interventions, breast-feeding and more.
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