A positive birthing experience is integral to the mother and baby’s well-being.
A major factor that can influence the mother’s perception of a positive experience is how supported she feels throughout childbirth.
Sometimes a mother may not feel well supported because their partner felt they weren't prepared for the birthing experience and weren't sure of what their role actually was.
Good communication regarding your obstetric care and the birth preferences should be discussed early in the pregnancy and ongoing though out in the lead up to your little ones arrival.
This gives you both a chance to discuss your thoughts & feeling to determine what suits you both best.
It also gives you both the chance to discuss how much your partner would like to be involved the birthing process.
This could mean your partners role is simply to provide verbal comfort and support during the birthing process or they may like to cut the cord or furthermore to the extent of actively helping to deliver your baby into the world
"Our baby entered the world in a truly special way. We have a few special images of the most magical moment when my partner helped deliver our baby with you proudly beaming over his shoulder.
A moment we will both never forget "
The old days....
As recent as the 1960’s the partners attendance at the childbirth was not the “social norm” with many partners waiting at home for any news of their little ones arrival. The role of the partner however has certainly progressed with the times from attendance in birthsuite and furthermore to active participation in the birth process.
Modern day support during childbirth involves a combination of clinical care, physical care & emotional support provided by a range of individuals, including Obstetrician, midwives or the partner, support person, doula relatives or friends.
Benefits of their Presence and support
A number of studies have revealed that the partner’s support during labour and childbirth contributed to a more positive birth experiences and a smoother transition into parenthood.
Research has shown that partners help to alleviate stress and fears, promote strength, endurance, comfort and security which can help distract from the pain and in general, contribute to a more positive birth experience.
Why a support role can feel hard:
A lack of awareness about the birth process can make partners feel anxious and uncomfortable. It can sometimes be distracting to the labouring mother.
For many partners watching their labouring partner experiencing pain can be very distressing. A qualitative study of 107 fathers experiences of childbirth found that men experience a lot of anxiety from feeling powerless to finding solutions for their partners’ pain.
Advice for Partners -
Things you can do:
Go to birth classes and take advantage of any sessions just for expectant dads.
If you and your partner are writing a birth plan, find out from your partner how you can support her during labour – but be flexible on the day.
Share a copy of the birth plan with the health professionals who’ll be involved in your partner’s care.
Know what’s in your partner’s hospital bag or help her organise things on her list for the bag.
Plan to keep the birth environment calm, nurturing and positive.
Think about whether you’d like to play a more hands on role is you babies arrival
Partners support role for vaginal birth
As the support person this is your opportunity to provide r labouring partner with emotional and physical support encouragement and reassurance.
You’ll also be guiding your partner through breathing and relaxation techniques and reminding her of other information she learned in pregnancy and birth classes.
You could also offer back rub and help her get into comfortable positions. Sometimes your partner might get quite tired during a contraction and may not be able to speak for herself, she may need you to speak on her behalf. If you find yourself in this situation, try to stay calm and polite when you’re talking to staff as they’re doing their best to look after your partner and you.
It’s also important to remember that the labouring mother may go through array of emotions and requests/decisions and at times may be quite direct. Take it in your stride, she may even change her mind many times.
For many women it is a new experience and all labours can be different and they need your support they best way you can.
Some ways you can help feel more prepare is write or discuss with your partner about a birth plan and theirs wishes during delivery. It is also a good time to discuss with you partner about what you do or may not feel comfortable doing foe example cutting the cord or being down you may not want to see anything down the business you preferences count too. Some partners may find their choices change during delivery.
“After going to a birth class with my wife I assured her that I wanted no part of any medical stuff and even the through of it made me sick.
That all changed when we were in hospital,
when it came time I found my self running between my wife’s head to then down to watch our little man entering the world.
I felt so exhilarated I even cut the cord
....And that is something I will remember for ever”
Some men can feel strange, unsure or upset about their partner having a vaginal examination. These examinations help medical staff gauge your partners progress and what position your baby is in. With this information, they can tell your partner when to start pushing and what positions or movements to use so your baby can be born.
Parters support role for caesarean birth
Just having you there in the operating theatre will reassure your partner, but you’ll also need to encourage her with calm and positive words.
If your partner is having a planned caesarean, you can help by knowing what’s involved before, during and after the operation.
If your partner needs a emergency caesarean, she might be exhausted from long labour effort prior as well as worried and anxious.
Depending on how your partner is going emotionally and physically, it might be up to you to speak with medical staff on her behalf.
Preparing for the tough stuff
It’s OK If you feel you need a break too!
It’s a good Idea to wait until the midwife is there. This way you can get a breather or go to the toilet knowing your partner is in good hands and will have support around her.
Sometimes you might not feel comfortable being the only support person and enlist the help of another close family member, professional or doula to help support you both.
For some the sight of blood can make you feel faint. If you begin to feel light-headed, sit down straight away – before you fall down. Put your head between your knees and take deep, slow breaths in and out. The light-headedness will soon pass.
Tips to help your partner prepare:
As part of getting ready for these aspects of birth, you could think about the following;
how you’ll stay calm during birth (methods/techniques that you know work for you
prepare yourself a hospital bag with change of
clothes, snacks, phone charger and something to do whilst you wife is resting.
Go over your partner references and talk about what they might be expecting or how they are feeling.
Have the phone numbers you need ready or save in your phone in case you wife goes into labour. For my patients you can get the birthsuite / ward details for my reception staff just contact my room
Join up some on line forums to get some stories of other partners birthing experience
TAKE HOME MESSAGE....
Obstetric care & birth should take the preferences of both parents into account.
This means what suit you both best and your preferences and how much you would like to be involved with the delivery from being a comfort and support to cutting the cord of actively helping to delivery you baby.