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Prep Your Partner for a Successful Birth

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You want to empower and encourage your partner to hold a calm space. His energy is really going to affect yours, so you need to communicate clearly that he is holding an energetic space of support.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This

My hubby, bless him, is not a born doula. Most people aren’t. It takes a lot of training, practice and perhaps a particular emotional disposition to be able to calmly, confidently and consistently support a birthing women through the pain, fear and intensity that is birth. 

I think hiring a doula is great. I had a doula in one of my births and she was phenomenal and totally worth the investment. 

For various reasons, I decided in my 5th birth that I really wanted my husband to be my birth partner – to be by my side, cheering me on, noticing my requests and just generally being “my person”. 

 It’s hard to support a person during birth. It’s a tall order. Seriously: it’s a lot to ask of anyone. That’s why being a doula is a whole career.

So if you think that you might get very frustrated and disappointed with your partner during birth, consider hiring a doula or asking someone else like a close friend, sister, or mother to be your support person instead.

Have an honest conversation to determine if your partner is truly equipped, ready, willing, and able to do this. If they’re not, that’s okay and it’s good to know that before you head down a path of frustration and disappointment. 

My husband graciously agreed to be my birth partner. But we both knew – even though he’s a doctor, he’s been by my side through 4 births, and he wants to help – he needed some tools.

This time was different because this time I was birthing at home and I really needed him. 

So we prepped, and here are my top tips for how to do it:

  1. Communicate well and often
    The first and most important thing is communication. You and your partner want to be having a lot of conversations about the birth, your plans, and your expectations. If you have a specific birth plan such as a hospital or birthing center you’re going to, then you want to make sure that your partner knows when to go, how to get there, and how to navigate once you arrive. Introduce them to your midwife or doctor, give them the phone numbers, and make sure they have all the information they need. You might even want to consider making a clipboard with all the important details.

  2. Create a to-do list
    To help set your partner up for success, sit down and make a to-do list of what happens when you go into labor. Will they need to… Grab the hospital bag? Call your doctor? Get the babysitter or take your children to their grandparents’ place? Are there any other important things that they can only do at that point? Obviously, whatever you can prep in advance is the best, but there still might be certain things that your partner is going to need to do when labor begins. If they have a mission-oriented checklist, that’s going to help them so you don’t need to communicate those items while you’re in the midst of breathing through contractions.

  3. Education
    My next tip is to embark on some kind of education together. Even though my husband’s a doctor and he had attended many births, I opted for a more natural birth process. He was actually kind of clueless about that world. It’s actually quite different in terms of mindset and preparations. Things like hypnobirthing and words of affirmation are not things that you necessarily learn in a hospital birth class. I’ve been to those classes and I really learned the mechanics – the stages of labor and some breathing techniques – but if you want your partner to be able to support you in a more advanced way, they’re going to need some education. Some partners will be resistant to that. I really recommend finding a course that you can take together – something that’s not too informative or taxing, but that you both feel makes sense to you. I’ve been loving Bridget Taylor’s videos and affirmations, and she also has a birth course. Her videos are beautiful and really helped me prepare for my fifth child. I also love hypnobirthing in general. So listening to those meditations is great for mama, but it’s also helpful if you can get your partner to understand what things to say and not say during the birth. I wrote out a list of affirming words that I would find supportive for my partner to say:

    AFFIRMATIVE SCRIPTS
    You’re amazing.
    You’re a rock star.
    It’s moving ahead perfectly.
    Every surge is bringing you closer to your baby.
    I am here with you.
    Let me ease the pain for you.
    You’re doing it!
    You are so strong – strong enough to do this. 
    You are working so well with the contractions.
    Each contraction is bringing your baby closer to you.
    I’m right here.
    I will help you.
    Let me take some of the tension away.
    Perfect… you’re doing just perfectly.
    Release and open up to make room for baby.
    Your pain is helping you open up for your baby.
    Relax your shoulders.
    Big inhale to your tummy… Exhale slowly.
    Try not to resist the contractions, relax into them with slow breath.
    Rest your eyes.
    I’m proud of you.
    I love you.
    You are a superwoman, you can do this.
    You’ve done this before, just like millions of other women.
    You were built to birth.
    You’re built for this.
    It’s OK to cry.
    Just one contraction at a time.
    You are stronger than you think you are.
    You are a goddess, you can do this.
    You can do anything for 60 seconds.

  4. Explain what is supportive for you
    I recommend explaining to your partner in general what you would find supportive. For me, if my partner is on the phone during the birth, that would drive me crazy. I need to know that if he’s on his phone, it’s because he’s checking on our kids or something absolutely important. Think about what those things are for you. Maybe if your partner disappears to the bathroom for a really long time and you don’t know when he’s coming back, or if he makes jokes or talks too much, that would bother you. Think about what you would like, or at the very least communicate the fact that you will be saying, “Please do this, please don’t do that,” during the birth.

  5. Ensure they know it’s not personal
    You want to explain to your partner not to get insulted and not to take anything personally. You might yell at them, you might curse at them, you might slap their hand away when they’re trying to touch you. And that’s completely normal and to be expected during birth. Don’t worry about it, but just make sure that your partner isn’t worrying about it either and that they still come back supportive and present for you.

  6. Give them tools
    Offer your partner a set of tools that they can use to support you as well –  things like incense, meditations, a heat pack, ice chips, electrolyte water, or running a bath. Maybe write out the different tools they can offer you during the birth so that they know what to do and how to do it.

    EARLY STAGES OF LABOR (prep the room):
    Bring up the yoga ball and have her bounce.
    Play meditation music and positive birth affirmations.
    Light incense, diffuse essential oils, and offer some on her wrist/neck.
    Turn lights down low and light candles.
    Direct her to do an enema.
    Keep the room neat and tidy with no visual distractions, continual cleanup and rearranged as needed.

    HELPING THROUGH CONTRACTIONS:
    Massage with oils.
    Touch acupressure points.

    Assist with getting into tub/shower with salts and stay nearby.
    Speak words of affirmation.
    Provide light/firm touch.
    Breathe calmly and slowly so she can follow your lead.
    Offer ice chips for chewing and sips of water/juice.
    Change up her position when she’s starting to get stuck.
    Encourage her to cry if she needs to.
    Offer a heat pack for her back.

    IMPORTANT DOs & DON’Ts
    DO be extra kind and gentle with the kids.
    DO communicate where/when you’re leaving and coming back.
    DON’T ask lots of questions.
    DO try things out and notice if they’re working or not.

    DON’T be on your phone.
    DON’T make silly jokes or be awkward – be confident, calm, and supportive.
    DO use your body and breath to get into a rhythm and create calm energy around you.

  7. Practice massage and acupressure points
    The next thing you want to do with your partner is to test your massage positions and acupressure points. This might mean going online and watching a few videos about different acupressure points that your partner can locate on your body to help with contractions. Then, practice! It’s not easy to find these points and it’s really not something you want them bumbling around with during labor. So have them test the acupressure points and see that they can find them on your body and that they feel good to you. The same goes for certain massage techniques, but if they don’t feel good during the birth, just say so. At least your partner will be equipped to know how to do it. The same goes for positions to help with contractions. Can your partner help you with sitting on a yoga ball, putting you on all fours, or getting onto the bed in different ways? Practice those movements in advance so you feel comfortable on the day of.

  8. Empower them to stay calm and take ownership
    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you really want to empower and encourage your partner to be able to hold a calm space. You don’t want them getting anxious or worried or asking you a million questions during the birth. That’s not going to be good energy for you. I’ve given my partner explicit instructions not to ask me all the time, “Does this feel good? Do you want to do this or that? Should we go over here?” I don’t want him to ask me, but rather to take the lead. If something’s not working, I’ll tell him. During birth, you’re fully in your body and you’re not going to be in your cognitive executive brain where you keep managing other people. You don’t want to have to manage him and his anxiety and all his questions. So you really need to prepare him to have his own techniques to calm himself down and to ask his questions to the midwife, doula, or doctor, or just trusting himself. You want to empower him to stay very calm so he can be a calming energy for you. You’re going to need to focus on keeping yourself incredibly relaxed. Practice things like slow breathing techniques, low voice, relaxed shoulders, and holding you strongly during a contraction without tensing up. His energy is really going to affect yours, so you need to communicate clearly that he is holding an energetic space of support. 

Now in postpartum, I can attest that my home birth went spectacularly, my partner was incredible, and all of that prep totally paid off.

I very much hope that your birth experience bonds you together even deeper, and if there are hiccups and disappointments that you can gracefully move past them and still look fondly at the way your partner showed up for you and how you experienced this as a team together. That can really set you guys up to be a fabulous team as parents to your beautiful, newborn child.

If you enjoyed this episode, I’d love to hear which tip feel would best set your partner up for success or if there are any I missed on this list. Leave a comment below or join me on Instagram @parentingjunkie!

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