Being A Birthing Partner: Our 15 Top Tips

It's natural to feel worried as a birth partner, but preparing well beforehand will really help you both.
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Are you feeling apprehensive about what’s going to unfold in the delivery suite?

Fear not, it’s totally expected to feel that way. Our top tips here will help you as a labor partner navigate this momentous time as pregnancy draws to an end, though be warned, you might still hear a few choice words!

If this is your first time on the maternity ward, you may well be feeling anxious about what’s to come. Will it be fast? Will it be quick? Natural birth or a C-section? So much can happen in labor, and it’s entirely expected that you’ll want to know about what’s to come and how to support the mom-to-be. Let’s take a look at some top birthing tips to help you prepare for labor effectively.

For more parenting tips find some gentle exercises to induce labor and our guide to being a first-time dad here.

What Is A Birthing Partner?

A birth partner is a trusted person who accompanies the mother throughout the labor process. Such partners offer emotional and practical support during birth. A birth partner can be the mother-to-be's partner, or a trusted friend or family member, the decision is yours.

Our 15 Top Tips For Being A Birthing Partner

If you are a birth partner, there's a number of great things you can do to support the mother-to-be throughout the process. Here are our top tips.

1. Be Available

As the due date of the baby approaches, and especially if it goes way over, make sure you have your phone on standby and be ready to dash to the mother-to-be. It’s no good heading into the board room for a three-hour meeting unless your team knows you might need to make a sharp getaway.

2. Know If It's The Real Deal

Genuine signs of labor include the waters breaking. This could be just a tiny amount or a gushing flow, and with every woman and labor, it is entirely different.  Labor usually kicks off within 12 hours of the waters breaking and persistent back pain is another common sign of labor. Make sure you know and read up about the signs of actual labor, and a condition that occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy called Braxton Hicks, which may present in a very similar way in terms of pregnancy contractions.

3. Take Control Of Your Fears

You may well have heard by now, giving birth isn’t pretty; you might hear long screams, or maybe find a bowel movement appears during a contraction. Regardless of how nauseous you might be feeling, your role is to give support and remain non-judgmental.

Childbirth can be very daunting, do your best to stay calm.

4. Revise The Birth Plan

Even if the mother has a birth plan in place, make sure you know the information off by heart. They will undoubtedly be very preoccupied during birth, so you can help things go to plan. It’s also super important to be prepared to throw everything out of the window with a moment’s notice, but if you know what the original plan is, it makes it far easier to support during labor.

5. Know The Way To The Hospital

It’s really important to understand which hospital you should be heading to and how to get there. Practice the route a few times if you are unsure and if you are a non-driver, be prepared to book backup help, such as noting down several reliable taxi numbers.  Don’t be afraid to call an ambulance and change your plan if required.

6. Keep Track Of Time

As a birth partner, you’ll need to keep note of how frequently the contractions are occurring. Start timing from the beginning of one contraction to the onset of the next. When they hit the pre-agreed frequency to either leave and get to a hospital or call the midwife for a home birth, you’ll have all the helpful information in hand to support the medics.

7. Give Massages

During early labor, a back massage can help ease aches and pains and support your partner to stay calm. Your antenatal midwife may give you some great information here as to how you can help as a birth partner. Equally, if your partner does not want to be touched (which can happen during childbirth), ask them if they are OK, support, listen, and stop when required. Remember your partner's needs are paramount.

8. Be Their Advocate

Only you as the birth partner (and the expecting mom, of course) know how you would like the course of events to proceed. However, she might not be in a position to make the tough decisions at some points during labor and birth. Be ready to jump in with the best ways forward. Understand what support to give to help your partner's needs, and don't be afraid to speak to the midwife throughout labor.

Many birth partners could even need to learn all about labor.

9. Get Clued Up

Labor isn’t the right time to begin searching for an article on what’s happening, so make sure you’ve read up beforehand. Join antenatal appointments, and don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions as a birth partner. One idea is to ask experts and the midwife for information with a list of prepared questions before appointments, so you can reassure your partner when the time comes.

10. Remain Flexible

While some labor plans and strategies may work wonders with some women, remember that everyone is different. What may have been planned before may change entirely. If your partner said that there was no way she wanted to use pain-relieving drugs and is now asking for them, listen and find the best solution together

11. Take Care Of Yourself

While it is true that the mom-to-be will take center stage, more than likely as a birth partner, you’ll be spending the night at the hospital too. Pack some things for yourself and to help your partner. If the plan is a water birth, include swimwear if you’re going in too. Take many snacks, so you have all you need within reach.

12. Get Ready To Wait

The reality of labor and birth is far from the movies; some births can last days, and your partner may have started labor hours before they arrive at the hospital. Some couples want to stay at home for the first stages of labor, and in fact, many hospitals want you to wait until the contractions become frequent before going in person.

13. Once The Baby Arrives

When the baby is born, it’s natural to feel such a rush of emotions, but keep in mind what you had planned before the birth. Will you be cutting the baby's cord? Will you be taking any new baby snaps? Do you need to let other relatives know right away after the birth? The same goes for creating social media posts.

14. Be Prepared For What A Newborn Baby Looks Like

Be prepared for the baby to be wrinkled, they also could have a white coating and redness or dryness on their skin. It’s also common for a newborn baby’s head to be an irregular shape after passing through the birth canal.

15. After The Birth

The placenta may take up to an hour to arrive after giving birth. Your partner may feel chilly, so get some blankets to use at the ready.

If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at our articles looking at what to expect at the 36 week ultrasound, or what period pains on and off means at 37 weeks pregnant?

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