Good birth-partner support can often make all the difference for a labouring woman.
So a BIG SHOU-OUT t to the Birth Warrior Birth-Partners today….ESPECIALLY the MEN!!!
This short but sweeeeeeeet blog is especially for the anyone planning on being the best birth-partner they can be!
On a deep, primal, DNA, hard-wired programming level Men’s role has been to protect and defend, an instinct largely governed by Testosterone and a useful one when back in cave-men days, their lovers were birthing often at night and under the threat of attack from a predator.
What’s interesting is that biologically we haven’t evolved all that much – even though culturally and technologically we’re a leaps and bounds away from life spent in rock-face recesses – and so whilst birth now happens in the apparent safety of our homes, birthing units or labour wards, men still feel the need to defend and can often experience a fight, flight or freeze response to seeing their partner going through the birthing process.
Given that men have only been expected to act as Birth-Partners for the last couple of decades, often our lads can feel so far out of their comfort zone, it becomes hard for them to provide effective support to their labouring lovers.
Here are my top tips on how you can ensure you keep your fight. flight or freeze response in check!
1 – Preparation is KEY!
Understanding about the physiology of pregnancy and birth is fundamental if you are to best support a labouring woman effectively as a Birth-Partner. There are LOADS of birth prep resources available online or at your local library, I’m sure. Watch youtube videos of women labouring at home or in Birthing Units, in the water perhaps and notice how their partners support them. DO NOT WATCH ONE BORN EVERY [BLOODY] MINUTE! Reseach about the different hormones that are at work during progeny and labour. Learn about the different stages or labour and how you change your approach to best support during each stage.
2 – Learn Massage!
Your lady will love you forever if you can touch her in such a way that you ease the sensations of her contractions, or reduce the swelling in her tired legs, or soothe her aching back. It’ll make her feel good, which will make you feel good, it’ll make you feel more connect as a couple, and in turn that will all help with ramping up the levels of Oxytocin…this is the key to being an excellent Birth-Partner!
3 – Create an optimal birthing environment by promoting oxytocin production
Oxytocin in the primary hormone involved in labour. It’s also called the Love Hormone or the Bonding Hormone as it’s what causes us to fall in love, it’s released when we feel connected, it peaks at orgasm and interestingly also with contractions in labour. Regular contractions and a progressive labour pattern are governed by Oxytocin. You can help your partner greatly by promoting the release of Oxytocin, with touch, eye contact, affirmations, massage, kissing, nipple and clitoral stimulation (Yes, birth can be orgasmic!), sex and skin-to-skin contact.
However, it is a very ‘shy’ hormone and can be easily scarred off. Bright lights, sudden loud noises, interruptions – especially from strangers and unfamiliar environments can all hinder the production of Oxytocin. So, dim the lights, light some candles, play some soft music, recreate a home-from-home environment if birthing away from your home, stay close, quiet and connected. And defend your lover from potential interruptions.
4 – Work on yourself and your own fear/ belief/ concerns
Women in labour have a kind of superhero power that makes then very susceptible to tuning into other peoples emotions. Mark Harris, NLP Practitioner, Midwife and founder of Birthing for Blokes explains this really well in his book Men, Love and Birth (Read it! It’s awesome!). That means that if you ave any unresolved concerns or fears pertaining to birth, your lady is likely to pick up on them and that could hinder her labour process. Take the time to explore any fears or doubts you have. Do it with or away from your partner, debrief previous labours with a Midwife, talk to a Doula or Birth Trauma Coach, or do an online antenatal course like the one offered by Mark Harris (see link above).
5 – Use your BRAIN!
Its helpful to know how to have a proper discussion about medical interventions before agreeing to anything. As her advocate, support and father of her child, you’ll want to feel as on-board with all the important decision making as possible, I’m sure. The below acronym will help you explore all possible interventions/ medical procedures:
6 – Read The Birth Partner, Penny Simpkin.
JUST DO IT.
Use your BRAINs and be the best Birth Partner you can be!?
Posted by Charlotte Bailey Birth and Postnatal Doula & Mumpreneure on Tuesday, 7 March 2017