Yes, it’s just one day of your life. But giving birth is an experience that you’ll remember and re-tell for a very long time. It leaves an imprint on the rest of your life. How you’re supported and treated during labour and birth is just as important as how the birth plays out.
And that’s where your birth support partner comes in.
If you’re able to look back on birth and remember your partner providing love and support, it’s more likely to be a positive, memorable experience for you.
Traditionally birthing women were supported by other women – sisters, aunts, older women from their village. Nowadays though, husbands and partners are expected to be present and hands-on.
But have you actually discussed, planned and practiced your partner’s support role together?
Does your birth support partner feel confident to help you with the breathing techniques, positions for labour, and what to do if labour stalls?
Is your partner equipped to provide love and support in a way that YOU need?
Are your expectations of your partner realistic?
Here’s 8 tips for you and your birth support partner:
1. Be honest with each other about your thoughts and feelings about birth, and what’s right for both of you. Be open to the idea that your partner may not actually be the right support that you need. It’s better to have this conversation up front rather than being disappointed or resentful on the big day.
2. Educate yourselves and seek external support. Education equals empowerment. Attend birth preparation workshops and classes to learn as much as you can. Consider engaging a doula (a non-medical birth support person) who can be there to support both of you as a couple.
Couples Birth Preparation Workshops
Join one of our Couples Birth Preparation Workshops to learn essential birth skills and bond as a couple. These 2.5 hour workshops are packed full of useful information and practical techniques to help you and your partner have a positive birth experience.
3. Practice, practice, practice. Regularly practicing breathing techniques and positions for labour together will mean that it comes more intuitively on the actual day. There are lots of breathing techniques where the partner can help the birthing woman, for example by counting the breath or vocalising together.
4. Be fully present. During labour, be fully present with your partner. Don’t look at your phone or watch TV (unless you’re doing this together as a form of distraction). Anticipate her physical needs, for example if she needs support to move into a different position or needs a drink, as well as her emotional needs.
5. Understand her love language. How does your partner like to have love expressed to her? Is it through kind, loving words like “you’re doing great”? Acts of service like bringing water and a cool facewasher? Physical touch like holding her hand and giving a massage? Giving gifts like a bracelet, or a sweet little love note? Or simply just being present? Don’t assume you already know the answer to this – discuss it as a couple beforehand.
6. Have a thick skin! Oftentimes what was planned and discussed goes out the window during labour. You might have envisaged your partner giving you a massage and working on acupressure points, but when labour starts, you actually can’t stand being touched. Don’t take it personally and try to find other ways to support her instead.
7. Communicate with the hospital. Take it upon yourself to be your partner’s advocate and communicate with the hospital staff when required. Understanding the birth plan and having planned for different scenarios will really help here.
8. Stay calm. What a birthing woman needs the most is a calm, relaxing environment, surrounded by loving, calm people. Your most important job is to keep your partner calm and relaxed, so it’s important to stay calm yourself. Stress and anxiety are often exacerbated if we don’t eat or drink, so make sure you have supplies for both of you.
Preparing for labour and birth, and knowing how to communicate to your partner what you want needn't be challenging.
Join one of our Couples Birth Preparation Workshops for a bonding experience like no other!
We take a deep dive into labour and natural birth to really get you thinking and working together as a team. We explore what ‘support’ means on a physical level through partner yoga. We get you practicing positions for active labour and breathing techniques. It’s a fun and interactive workshop that you don’t want to miss.
"Highly recommend it for all expecting couples!" Jennie
"Great opportunity to learn and understand the techniques, prepare my mind for the birth, what to do, how to do!" Maggie
"A great experience and good for my partner to see how I've been preparing for birth" Kate
"You won't regret it" George
"I highly recommend any new parents like us to have this experience" Suraj