These days, it’s pretty much a given that you will have someone with you in the birthing suite; whether that’s your husband, partner, friend or family member, most women have a support partner with them when they give birth. However, it wasn’t all that long ago that men weren’t even allowed in the birthing suite – let alone encouraged to play an active role.
In this post I want to talk about why taking a prenatal class together with your support partner is just the first step in the role they can play in your birth. Whether you opt to do a hospital-based, private face-to-face childbirth classes, or an online childbirth course like our Ultimate Prenatal Program; education is just the beginning of their hugely important role.
My Mum has told me about when my eldest sister Eliza was born and how my Dad had to fight for his right to go in and be by her side when she gave birth. Seriously, that was only in the 70’s! As a side note, it was at the same time that Mum’s obstetrician would be smoking a cigarette and he was more interested in Dad’s golf game than Mum or the baby during her check-up appointments. We’ve certainly come a long way!
While it’s common place to have a support partner during childbirth, there are still many Dads that feel overwhelmed by the process of childbirth. They don’t feel as though there will be anything they can do to help or that they don’t have an important role to play.
One of the first things I think is important for both you and your support partner to remember is that birth is like a marathon. This is something I remind my Birth Beat mums and dads regularly throughout the Ultimate Prenatal Program. You can’t expect to be able to just rock up on the day without doing the prep work beforehand!
The first step in preparing for childbirth is to get educated. For many new parents, their first experience of childbirth is when they’re in the middle of it! Of course, you’re not going to know what to expect. The unknown, and worrying about ‘what-if’s’ that are based on other people’s birth experiences (remember, no two births are the same) are a key source of fear and apprehension about birth.
That’s why prenatal classes are so important. Learning the processes and what birth looks, sounds and feels like as well as all the ways that you can work with your body during labour are essential for removing the fear. Knowledge is what will enable you both to feel calm, prepared and empowered as you prepare for childbirth.
If there was one way to describe the power of education when it comes to childbirth for the support partner, I think it is best summed up by one of my favourite ever reviews from a Birth Beat dad:
“You took me from sh!t scared, to superhero.”
How awesome is that!?
And that’s exactly what you need your support partner to be for you during childbirth; they need to be your superhero who supports you, anticipates your needs, listens to you, encourages you and generally reminds you what an absolute Super Woman you are.
When your support partner is educated about the birth process they will be better equipped and less likely to feel fear. Of course, it’s only natural that there may be some nerves and that’s OK. Being nervous with anticipation isn’t the same as feeling fear.
Once you’ve undertaken prenatal education together, the next thing to do is to practice what you’ve learnt!
Imagine reading a book about marathons and then thinking that you’re capable of running one without doing any training? Sounds completely silly right? The same thing applies to childbirth – you need to practice the techniques, talk about your wishes and get prepared.
Here are some practical ways your birth support partner can support you in the lead-up to childbirth:
OK, the time has come and you’re in early labour. Woo hoo! This is when it starts to get exciting and many couples get a little bit too carried away with all their tips and tricks. It could be a long time before bub makes their arrival so don’t be too quick out of the gates! Here are some practical ways your support partner can help you during this early phase:
Once you are in active labour, you will likely feel the need to really go within yourself and focus. Some of the ways your partner can help in this phase of labour include:
The next stage is transition and it often the time when women will think they can’t do it. It’s the shortest and most intense phase of labour and a time when you may need extra support and encouragement. Your support partner is going to be feeling incredibly proud of you, even more so than usual. I’ve seen just how much strength a woman in labour can get from her partner at this point just from being reminded how strong, powerful and capable she is in that moment.
The baby is almost here! The pushing stage is when you’ll meet your gorgeous bubba. You’re so close now, you simply can’t resist that urge to push and bear-down any longer. Your support partner is going to be just as excited as you are – you’ve come such a long way. Here’s what they can do to help you on the home stretch:
Once your baby has arrived, the journey you’ve been on together through pregnancy and childbirth now becomes the beginning of your journey through parenthood. There are a million ways you will both support each other on this next phase, but for now you can both soak up every precious moment of getting to know your new baby – which is a whole other blog post!
I hope you can now appreciate just how important your support partner is in the birth experience. And these are just some examples, there are many more ways they can support you. The key message I want you to take away from this post is that they are by no means a passive bystander, you can work as a team and the more that you do, the more enjoyable the experience can be for both of you.
If you want to discover more ways your partner can play an active support role and learn all the birth process together in the comfort of your own home, why not explore our online Ultimate Prenatal Program? I would love to welcome you into our Birth Beat Tribe so that you and your partner can prepare for your best birth, together.
P.S. Why not share this blog post your partner? It will give them lots of practical tips without you having to ask them and hopefully spark some conversations about what you would like to try.