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BY LAUREN BRENTON | Endorsed  Midwife & Childbirth Educator | Founder of One Mama Midwife

The role and impact that partners play during pregnancy as well as labour and birth can sometimes be overlooked. Partners only started to become allowed in the room during labour in the 1960s and it wasn’t until the 70s and 80s that they were actually allowed to stay for the birth. Today, partners are encouraged to be in the labour and birth room with their partners so much so that it is even frowned upon if they aren’t there. So, from not being allowed in, to it becoming almost compulsory for them to be in the room it is no wonder that some partners feel a little lost and “in the way”. This blog will explore how partners can help navigate the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy. It will also explore the importance and role of partners during the labour and birth, demonstrating how partners can feel more confident in their ability to support the birthing parent.

Tips for Supporting Pregnant Mums During Tough Times:
Pregnancy is hard! It isn’t always the glowing skin and beautiful bump photos that we see all over social media. For most women, pregnancy is exhausting, there’s nausea and vomiting, hormonal fluctuations, and the physical and financial changes as well. It is no wonder then that partners can play such a vital role in supporting pregnant mums during these tough times. Yet, these conversations remain unspoken about, leaving partners feeling confused and unsure how to help.

How can your partner support you during pregnancy:

  1. Open Communication: Communication is key during pregnancy. Often pregnant mums aren’t sure if what they are feeling is normal or if they can talk about it, having open and honest communication with each other can help you both navigate these feelings, fears, and concerns. Let her know you're there to listen and support her no matter what. It is also important to let her know that she shouldn’t feel guilty for not “enjoying every minute of pregnancy”.
  2. Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about the stages of pregnancy, common discomforts, and potential complications. This knowledge will help you understand what your partner is going through, help her feel like you care and provide informed support.
  3. Attend Antenatal Classes Together: Antenatal classes are an amazing way for you both to learn all about labour, birth and the postpartum period together. They can be fun, interactive and give you the confidence to understand just how important your role is during the labour, birth and postpartum period. They also provide an opportunity to bond and prepare together, while meeting other parents in a similar situation as you.
  4. Offer Physical Comfort: Pregnancy can be physically demanding. Offer massages, run baths, or take on more of the household chores as needed. Encourage your partner to rest and nap often, growing a baby is physically and emotionally demanding so making sure she takes some time out for herself without feeling guilty about it is essential. Better yet, you can surprise her with some TheRY Group Pregnancy Compression tights or shorts to help reduce the physical strain and discomforts of pregnancy.
  5. Be Flexible and Patient: Hormonal changes can affect a woman's mood and energy levels. Be patient and understanding when she's experiencing mood swings or fatigue. It is important to understand that her body is going through a lot and that these mood swings are all part of it, it can help you to calm and comfort her when she is feeling upset or overwhelmed. Furthermore, adapt your plans and expectations to how she is feeling. This may mean cancelling plans or rearranging plans if she is not feeling up to it.
  6. Accompany Her to Appointments: Whenever possible, try to attend the midwife or obstetrician appointments and ultrasounds with your partner. This shows you’re interested in what’s going on and want to be part of the process. It also allows her to feel well supported and gives you both the opportunity to ask questions, especially if complications arise. It is important that you both stay informed throughout your entire pregnancy journey so that you can make the best decisions for you.

Partner support in the birth room
Partner support during labour and birth is well researched. Many studies have shown that good support from partners during labour and birth reduces fear of birth as well as reductions in postpartum depression and anxiety. In addition, birthing parents who had good partner support were more likely to perceive less pain during labour and birth. Furthermore, according to a Cochrane Review (2017), having a supportive birth partner has been shown to increase the incidence of giving birth without the use of forceps or vacuum, reduce the length of labour, reduce the risk of having a caesarean section, reduce the use of pain medications during labour and therefore improve the overall birth experience.

It's essential to understand that how each person wants to be supported in labour is different. You are the person who knows your partner the best, so follow your instincts and adapt these suggestions to suit your partner. 

Tips for Being Supportive in the Delivery Room

  1. Prepare in advance: Before the big day, make sure you have everything packed and ready for the hospital. This includes bags, essential documents, and any comfort items your partner may want during labour. It can be helpful to pack the bag together, that way you know where in the bag all of the essential items are that she will need when you get to the hospital.
  2. Educate yourself: Being educated is the best way for you to have confidence in her body and to learn that the pain of labour is functional pain and not pathological pain. Understanding that this pain is good pain, will help to reduce your fear and anxiety around birth and therefore remain confident and calm.
  3. Stay calm and positive: Labour can be intense and unpredictable. Your partner will look to you for reassurance and emotional support. Stay calm, offer words of encouragement, and maintain a positive attitude. Try to avoid giving sympathy, sympathy can sometimes cause her to lose focus and confidence in her body. Instead, focus on building her up and reminding her just how strong she is.
  4. Try not to leave the room too often: If you leave the room too often it might break her focus and her zone. Try to have everything you will need (including lots of snacks) in the room, so you can stay and provide that continuous support.
  5. Offer physical support: Be actively involved in the labour process. Remind her to change positions often, offer massages, allow her to squeeze your hand during the contractions and offer her sips of water in between every contraction. In addition, give her as much love as you possibly can, a famous midwife once said, “the energy that gets the baby in, is the energy that gets the baby out”. Try to bring love and not fear into the labour room, help get that oxytocin flowing and help her feel confident in her body to birth her baby.
  6. Advocate for her: Be her advocate in the delivery room. Make sure her wishes and birth plan are communicated to the healthcare team that are looking after you. Ask questions on her behalf if necessary and ensure she feels heard and respected. It is also part of your role to help make sure that she maintains her privacy throughout the entire process.
  7. Be prepared for change: Labour can be unpredictable, and birth plans may need to change. Be flexible and supportive if complications arise during the labour process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to make informed decisions with your partner in the moment as to what suits you and your family the best.
  8. Capture the moment: Nature has a way of making us forget the intricacies of labour and birth, so that we go back again and again (and again in my case!). Don’t be afraid to take photos or videos to capture the special moments of labour and delivery. This can be a wonderful keepsake for both of you and if she hates them, she can always delete them later.
  9. Make sure you’re on the same page with the announcement: Telling family and friends about the arrival of your little one can be such an exciting milestone, however it is essential you’re both on the same page about when to do this and how. Always check your announcement photos for any private parts or reflections that you may not have noticed are in the photo.

Supporting a pregnant partner through tough times and being a source of strength in the delivery room is a beautiful and meaningful role for partners. Knowing just how important your role is and the impact that you can have, will give you the confidence you need to be her biggest supporter. By practicing effective communication, offering physical and emotional support, and staying informed, you can help your partner feel loved and cared for during this transformative journey. Remember, your presence and support are invaluable in ensuring a positive pregnancy experience and a memorable delivery day.

 

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Written by Lauren Brenton
Endorsed Midwife
Founder of One Mama Midwife Antenatal Classes

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