Tips For Labor Coaches
It may be hard to watch someone you care about in the pain of childbirth, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences to be able so watch the birth of a child, especially if it is your own baby that you have been watching grow in your partner's stomach for the past 9 months.
Here are some tips to help you be the best possible labor coach during such an important time:
Be prepared: Go to childbirth class with an open mind and bone up on your reading about the birth experience beforehand so that you know what to expect. Go into labor knowing different techniques to keep your mate relaxed and focused so that you can use what works and drop what doesn't.
Be ready to wait: Most women are in labor for hours before going to the hospital, and many hospitals won't even let you check in until contractions are regular and about 5 minutes apart. Be ready to take this time to do whatever your partner finds relaxing, and quietly bond for the last time as a couple before officially becoming a family.
Don't take things personally: A woman in labor is under a lot of physical and emotional stress. She may get snappy or seem to retreat within herself. Also, something that helped early in labor (like massage) may become intolerable later in the process. Remember this has nothing to do with you personally.
Ask questions: Don't be shy about asking your medical professionals questions about what they are doing and whether it is mandatory. Ask questions about the procedure or getting your partner comfortable whenever they come to you, and be prepared to ask questions on behalf of your mate too.
Be your partner's advocate: Know what you and your partner want beforehand because it may be up to you to make some tough decisions when the need arises, since your partner may not be in the best of shape. No birth goes exactly according to plan, and you may have to step up if the situation calls for it, making sure your mate's needs are being met.
Be flexible: Every birth is unique. This means you need to be able to see what's working during labor and what isn't so that you can help the birth and labor process go as smooth as possible. Be ready to explore different options, and discuss your expectations with your partner in the weeks leading up to your due date.
Know your limitations: Be aware of what you are willing to do during the birth and what you'd rather leave up to the professionals. Let them know too.
Bring some things for yourself: You may be spending the night at the hospital. Make sure to pack a clean shirt and underwear, comfortable shoes, a sustaining snack (that doesn't have much odor), a toothbrush, and anything else you think you may need.
Remember, your presence matters. Just by being there you are offering your support and making this a special day for your new family.