Should I have a birth partner?
A midwife will be with you at all times during your labour and birth. If you like, you can also have one person stay with you throughout your labour and birth. You will benefit from emotional support in the form of praise, encouragement, being listened to and the physical presence of a support person.
Research shows that having continuous support in labour can mean you will:
• use less pain-relieving drugs;
• have a better chance of having a natural vaginal birth;
• have a greater chance of avoiding a caesarean birth or using forceps or ventouse/vacuum births; and
• have a more satisfying childbirth experience.
Helpful hints for your birth partner
• Just being there is very supportive. You can be a very important support in the early labour before you go to the hospital.
• You may not like hospitals or worry about being ‘in the way’. However, your presence is a valuable source of support for your partner. Having a friendly face is very important to women in labour. If you have any worries discuss them with the midwife.
• Quiet time is very important for the woman in labour. This is especially true when labour progresses and the contractions are coming often. Try not to talk or ask questions while your partner is having a contraction as this can be very distracting.
• Make sure she is well supported and relaxed. Work through any relaxation techniques you have learned and practiced during the pregnancy.
• Help her to concentrate on her breathing techniques, if she needs it. Beware of over breathing as this can lead to dizziness or pins and needles – in this case she will need to slow her breathing down.
• Discuss how to deal with contractions together beforehand. It takes PRACTICE to master pain coping techniques. These techniques need to become a HABIT in order for them to work in stressful situations like labour. It’s difficult for women to make decisions when in labour but she will know at the time what she most needs and her wishes need to be respected.
• Eye to eye contact can be helpful as it helps focus attention away from the pain.
• Massage. This will need to be discussed beforehand as some women are hypersensitive during labour and may find touch annoying. Ask her where she needs it, how strong it needs to be and be aware that over massaging can lead to skin soreness. Avoid this by using massage oil like olive oil or grape seed oil.
• Positions. Using different positions in labour may be useful for different times. Practice these beforehand and how best you may support her.
• Remember there is no ‘right’ way for labour and birth to happen. Each woman’s experience is different and each time she does it, it’s different. Take each contraction as it comes. Do not try to anticipate events. Ask questions and do the best thing at that time in each given situation.