During labour and birth, the mother needs a presence of someone she knows to give her the assurance that everything is going to be fine. This role is usually done by the husbands, but in some cases when the spouse is not round and cannot make it to the labour room, a close family member or friend is present. Or in some cases, a professional labour partner is hired.
The birth partner can alleviate some anxiety and fear that a woman encounters while giving birth. Aside from practical help, a birth partner also helps to communicate with the hospital staff on the mother’s behalf.
If you are in the delivery room with your wife, or a close friend has asked you to be her labour partner, here are some useful tips to note.
Dos and Don’ts of a Labour / Birth Partner
The labour partner should keep in mind that the woman in labour is in need of five things:
- pain relief
- physical comfort and care
- presence of a supportive person
- knowledge of what is happening and
- acceptance and reassurance
Be sensitive to touch. Some women may like to be touched while others don’t. The physical touch can make the woman feel being cared for. It will prevent her from thinking that she is being isolated.
Breathing techniques can leave the woman thirsty and can dry her mouth that you should find ways to make her feel comfortable. Assist her to drink liquids. You can also use a lip balm to moisten her lips.Keep the woman cool by applying washcloth on her face and other body arts.
Some women can experience back labour. In this case, ask her to lie on her side and give her a back rub. Apply a war washcloth to her back. Be aware of the birth plan. Get introduced to the doctors or medical practitioners who will administer the delivery.
Encourage the woman to regulate her urine. A full bladder can affect the pace of the delivery that the woman should be reminded to go to the comfort room from time to time. Respect her need for draping and clothing during pregnancy while keeping her privacy.
Finally, the labour partner is there for emotional support. Use words of compliments and encouragement. Tell her that the labour is smoothly progressing and is nearly over.
The role may vary from one woman to another because each has his own different needs.
The labour partner should have the vigilance to identify the need and provide the intervention at once.It is very important that he or she is able to keep the energy up until labour is finished and the woman is set to rest.
Who was your labour / birth partner in the delivery room?
This article was first published in The New Age Parents magazine