Over the years, I have seen so many loving partners at births. But loving doesn’t always translate into supportive.
Many partners are unprepared for the realities of an average labor: the lack of sleep; the stress of the hospital; watching the woman you love going through intense emotional and physical strain. And often these partners’ natural inclination is to want to fix it all, to make it go away.
Of course, that isn’t possible, or even preferable.
Instead, there are some simple things that birth partners can do to offer real support when it is most needed. Even though they’re easy to describe, actually doing these things can be a challenge. But they’re worth trying, because they make all difference. Here are three:
- Pay attention. Over the many hours that a typical birth will take, this can be one of the hardest things to do. But try to watch her body language. Listen not just to her words, but to her sounds – the way she breathes. It will give you a lot of information about when she is uncomfortable and how the intensity is changing. And then you’ll be better able to offer her the support she needs.
- Show your care. Little things mean a lot; a drink of water, an extra pillow, putting on music she likes, holding her hand. This is a situation where the little things really are the big things.
- Stay off your electronics, unless she asks you to call or text someone. She can not escape into a different place through her iPhone, even if you can. She is in her labor. And unless it is an emergency, that is where you need to stay as well.
You’ll find many, many more tips on how to be a great labor supporter in our book, Deliver! A concise guide to helping the woman you love through labor.