Aug 062012
 

How the birthing partner can be helpfulFor millions of years, the female psyche has been hard-wired with an understanding of what to do at birth and how to do it. Most women appear to be born with an innate sense of how to cooperate with nature during pregnancy and birth and how to provide robust, loving nurture once their child is born.

In most traditional cultures-those in which certain practices and beliefs are passed on from generation to generation – a central position is provided for the father in the birthing place. However in our modern society, for various reasons, often the father is not the desired person to be present at birth, in which case the pregnant woman may choose another birthing partner, like a friend, relative, midwife, doula to provide loving support and encouragement throughout the delivery.

Many women value the presence of someone who can remain grounded and calm, prompting her with supportive language. This can be especially valuable, when labour takes many hours and the woman´s endurance and patience are being tested enormously.

The birthing partner supports the expectant mother throughout labour and birth and his role in facilitating a context for comfort cannot be underestimated. By becoming familiar with the relaxation and breathing exercises on the Birthing Without Fear recordings, the birthing partner can remind and encourage you to remain cool, calm and collected during any stage that may be challenging for you.

Timing the length, frequency and strength of your contractions is another task that you might want your partner to fulfill, so that he can provide concrete information to the medical staff when you choose to go to a hospital for your baby´s birth.

It can be tricky for the partner to know when exactly a contraction begins and when it ends – in our case I signaled my husband at the start and end of each contraction. He timed the number of minutes between contractions and how long each one lasted as well as calibrating the intensity. My own focus was within my body and I would not have wanted to look at a watch to take note of numbers, so to me it was very useful to have a partner measure the progression of my labour.

In a hospital environment, your birth partner can also be the link between you and the medical staff. When you are in advanced labour you will most likely not want to be concerned with making decisions about any interventions, which might be encouraged because of hospital protocol. Here, the support of your partner, whom you can trust to express your wishes, is very helpful and greatly reduces the possibility of giving in to the pressure of hospital staff when their protocol is not in alignment with your birthing preferences.

Should medical interventions be encouraged at any stage, your partner should not be hesitant to ask if the baby’s or your health are currently at risk, as often the over care of modern obstetrics might not take your well prepared natural approach into consideration. The medical staff should be willing to explain all the advantages and disadvantages of any reccommended intervention so that both you and your birth companion are fully informed prior to any decisions needing to be made.

Stay gentle and non confrontational with the medical staff when you express your opinion as different procedures are being discussed. You will get much better co-operation if you express your concerns in a calm assertive way. Never underestimate the value of good rapport with all those who are involved in your birthing experience. Your medical staff should be aware of your wishes around birthing, so that they can respect them. Also discuss your ideas with your midwife and provide her with a copy of your birthing preferences. Take a few copies for any other midwives on shift, who might take over your care. This kind of preparation will help to avoid any disappointment with regards to your birthing experience.

Your birthing partner is the protector and representative of your birth preferences when your attention is focused inward on the most important matter – your precious baby´s undisturbed right of passage.

Your birth partner should be familiar with your Birthing Without Fear techniques so that he or she can support and encourage you appropriately at any stage.

Article written by Jana Allmrodt

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