Birth partners are active members of the birth team!
While the birth process itself largely happens on its own, supporting the process to happen under the most relaxed and focused circumstances is a learned skill! Birth partners can benefit from learning certain techniques to enhance the support they provide!
Some of the key roles of birth partners include:
- Anticipate the birthing person's physical needs (water, food, comfort)
- Protect the birthing person's rhythm and ritual
- Facilitate informed choice by asking questions
- Offer verbal encouragement at key times
- Be a constant, calm, and reassuring presence for the birthing person.
Roving Body Check
A passive, constant scan of the birthing person's body from the top of their head down to their toes checking for tension or clues as to what kind of support may be needed.
Gently encourage the birthing person to release any tension they are holding in their muscles.
If they are grabbing or pushing on any part of their body during surges, try to offer counter pressure or gentle touch massage so that they can focus on relaxing their muscles.
Words of Affirmation
Do not underestimate the power of words in the birth space.
Remind the birthing person that they are capable of birthing their baby.
Try to use phrases you know they identify with.
Avoid talking about how much longer labor might be or how hard things might get.
Validate what they are expressing and avoid dismissing how they are feeling.
Common visualizations during labor are that of a rose or other flower blooming, waves rushing in and out, or the baby moving down with each surge.
Begin your visualization at the bottom of a surge, close your eyes and focus on timing your breathing with the visualization of your choice.
Some hypnobirthing techniques include coached visualizations and can be useful for attention focusing as well.
Anticipating a birthing person's needs during labor is also key! Periodically offering water, bits of food or other nourishment, and suggesting comfort techniques can help a birthing person feel supported enough to focus on the process.
Gently run your fingers along the birthing persons arms, legs, back, or neck. Increased pressure can be used depending on the birthing persons preference. During the early stages of labor, hand, neck, or foot massages using moderate pressure can help with relaxation and distraction.
Pay attention to the birthing persons body language in case they reach a point where they no longer want this type of touch.
Can offer relief from back labor and hip/lower back discomfort.
With the birthing person on their side, place the heal of your hand on the top of the hip bone and firmly press down and forward slightly.
With the birthing person upright, apply the same type of pressure using one hand on either side (double hip squeeze).
Standing or laying, use the heal of your hand to put firm pressure against a birthing persons tail bone.
Take charge routine
Generally used in transition, just before pushing or any other time a birthing person begins to panic or feel overwhelmed.
Place both hands on the birthing persons shoulders and firmly but gently put pressure downward.
Instruct them to look into your eyes while you offer short, matter of fact reassurance.
"You are safe", "You are doing this", "The baby is doing well and will be here soon"
When talking about birth partner support it’s important to know that your birth partner can be your partner, if you have one, or a relative or friend!