Labor CoachHow can a labor coach help the mother?
As hard as it may be to watch your mate in pain, most people find the birth of their child one of life's most powerful and satisfying moments. To help you be the kind of labor coach your partner dreams of, be prepared to:
Know what to expect
Labor is not the right time to be flipping through a pregnancy book or notes from childbirth classes, so start the preparation process now. And go to a childbirth class with an open mind — you'll get solid, basic information, as well as a sense of how other coaches are planning to get through the event.
Be ready to wait
Unlike what you see in the movies, most women labor for hours before they even go to the hospital. Indeed, many couples find it more comfortable to spend the early stages of labor at home. Besides, many hospitals won't let you check in until your contractions are regular and coming about every five minutes. So be available to do whatever your partner finds relaxing at this point, such as watching TV, taking a walk, or cuddling on the bed. This isn't the time for finishing up last-minute projects or doing household chores.
Labor strategies that work for some women might not work for your partner. Well before your baby's due date, take time to discuss with your partner her expectations and options. Later, you can take the initiative with her wishes in mind. But be prepared to change course — part of a labor coach's job is to find and use what works and drop what doesn't.
Don't take things personally
Your partner may seem to be in her own world during labor. Giving birth is a long, hard job and some women cope by reaching deep inside themselves. And she may become outwardly irritable at times, too. She may love having you massage her early in labor, for instance, and then during transition find being touched intolerable and let you know that in no uncertain terms!
Medical professionals should, but don't always, explain what they're doing and whether it's mandatory. Don't be shy about seeking out information, whether about medical procedures or about helping your mate get more comfortable — especially if she's not up to asking questions herself.
Be her advocate
Only you and your partner know what you both want, but she might not be in the best condition to make hard decisions. Be ready to step in if the situation calls for it. You may need to! request that her healthcare practitioner be woken from a nap, that an anesthesiologist be paged, or that a mirror be brought in. And if your partner plans to breastfeed, help make sure that she has a chance to do so soon after the baby's born, and that someone's there to help her if she's having trouble. Watch the door and protect her privacy.
Help her stay focused and relaxed
Suggest different coping techniques when necessary, drawing on the methods you've both learned in childbirth classes. Suggest position changes or help your partner find something — such as a breathing pattern, your face, or even a foot rub — to focus on during the contractions, and bring her back to it whenever she starts to think she won't make it. Wipe her face with a cold cloth.
Know your limitations
A lot goes on in the birthing room. Be aware of what you're willing to do during the process, and what you want to leave to the professionals. Maybe you're comfortable cutting the umbilical cord ! — but not helping to 'catch' your baby. If that's the case, say so.
Just be there
This is one of those events for which showing up is the most important thing of all. Even if you want to — or have to — leave most of the hands-on stuff to the pros, your presence matters. And no matter how you really feel, project a sense of confidence and calm reassurance: 'You're doing great! Everything's going fine.' There'll be time for you to unravel later. Take pictures so that you both can remember the birth of your child.
Comments: Labor Coach
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564 days ago.
Mummies!best labor guide ever!I tried and wholeheartedly recommend!