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Top Tips to Help You be the Best Birth Partner!

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With a baby on the way, you need to start thinking about labour and birth, and how to be the best birth partner you can. But, what comes to your mind when you think about labour and birth?

For far too many words such as “pain”, “fear” and “anxiety” spring straight to mind. But why is this? Why are we living in a time whereby, despite birth being safer than ever, we are more fearful of it?

Why Are We Scared of Labour and Birth?

Well, it makes perfect sense that many feel this way. We have been conditioned to see birth taking place with women screaming away with medical professionals running around them. Think of the films and TV programmes you have watched; they all tend to portray this vision of birth. Or we read about the horror-style birth stories online. But, in the same way we are more likely to leave a negative restaurant review, we are also more likely to report a dramatised birth story. So often all we see and hear of birth is fairly negative. It is therefore no wonder that we live in an epidemic of birth fear and anxiety.

But does it have to be this way? No! Absolutely not. I believe that with the correct education, preparation and support everyone can have a positive and empowered birth experience. This does not mean all women will have a non-medicated vaginal birth. But it means that whether the birth is a caesarean, hypnobirth, waterbirth, epidural, or assisted… your birth experience can be positive.

How To Prepare for Being a Birth Partner

So how do we achieve this? It is important we recognise that labour and birth are as much psychological as they are physical events. This means we need to prepare and condition our mind along with our bodies. Your mind and body are so interconnected we can’t utilise one without the other. If your partner believes birth will be painful and fearful, it is likely that is what they will experience. But if we challenge this, become educated in the process of birth so we can understand women’s bodies, use tools and techniques to prepare and support them, we can change this. Making birth calm, empowering and the most incredible experience.

Dads have such a huge role in the birthing room and evidence actually shows that a supportive birthing partner reduces the likelihood of birth intervention and even caesarean section. Dads and birth partners are also at risk of birth trauma and it is important you are also prepared and equipped with knowledge, skills and information ahead of birth to reduce this chance.

Five Top Tips to Help You Prepare to be a Great Birth Partner!

1. Invest in yourself and birth through quality, midwife-led antenatal classes.

Educating yourself around birth, the potential twists and turns and your options is imperative to having an empowered, informed birth experience.

I am so passionate about this and so set up my own live and on demand online classes for parents to be, to make sure you can receive the very best preparation. My classes are great for families to take together to learn lots about what is to come. Whether you have questions or concerns in the first or second trimester, or you’re looking to learn about hypnobirthing, you can find all the details over on my website (www.midwifepip.com).

2. Communicate and ask Questions to Be a Great Birth Partner

A close second is communicating with your partner to understand what she will want or need. For example; what birth environment does she wish to create and how can you do this- setting up a mood light and music, does she like touch and massage or prefer more distance encouragement? Everyone is different so knowing each others needs is important.

Spend time talking with your partner and asking questions. There are some great resources out there for creating a birth plan, this one from the NHS has a lot of information you can use to get those conversations going. Part of your role in labour is to advocate for your partners needs, so understanding her feelings on the different options is really important. It will also help you to feel more prepared when the time comes.

3. Practice Makes Perfect

Practice breathwork techniques with your partner. Now I know this may sound a little bit ‘hippy’ but it is actually really simple and effective.

This is something we delve into in depth on my antenatal course but to summarise:

In the second stage of labour the direction changes – your baby now needs to move downwards through the birth canal to be born. So, you want to switch your breathwork direction to support your body and baby and breathe down towards your bottom instead. A great time to practice this is when you go for a poo! Because in all honesty this is the closest feeling to those final stages of giving birth.

The reason I encourage dads to practice with their partner is because during birth it is your job to help keep her breathing on track. A calm controlled breath has a huge impact on the hormonal balance we need for labour to progress well.

4. Hospital Bag Packing!

Get involved in this step – it really is a vital part of being a good birth partner! I guarantee at some point during your birth it will be you getting things out the hospital bag. So a clever labelling system, and knowing where things are, will prevent you having to empty the bags on the hospital floor!

Crucially make sure you are also armed with the water, energy drinks and snacks as birth partners need to provide the Pit-Stop station for mum to keep hydrated and nourished. The uterus is a muscle so just like you would fuel up your legs for a marathon we need to fuel the uterus for labour.

5. What Are Your Birth Preferences?

We talk a lot about birth preferences and this can often be focussed on the mum. But, remember your wishes are important too – would you like skin to skin in the hospital? Would you like to cut the cord? Would you like to announce the sex of your baby? These are all really precious moments to be involved in however you want to be. So talk to your partner about your preferences, and make sure you let the midwife know on the day too.

And of course, don’t be afraid to get excited! This is going to be a hugely exciting time in your life, so although you may have some anxieties about the birth, try to take some time to focus on the excitement too!

Looking for More…?

Hey, Dad to be, your support doesn’t stop here! We have loads of resources to help you into this new chapter in your life. Including our great New Dads Course. This course is just for the dads and will get you ready for parenthood with tailored advice for fathers-to-be. Just click the photo below to find out more!

Dadvengers Course for New Dads
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About author
Pip is an experienced, practicing Midwifery Sister, MSc graduate, founder of Midwife Pip Podcast, Hypnobirth and Antenatal Educator, co- author of published research, Pre and postnatal; exercise trainer, Mummy MOT Practitioner and importantly a mum. Pip is on a mission to ensure all mums and parents feel like superwoman during pregnancy and when they give birth. Pip believes passionately that with the right support, honest and evidence-based information all birth should be positive regardless of any twists and turns that may crop up. Frustrated by seeing families poorly equipped with conflicting, inaccurate, or unrealistic advice and information Pip decided this was not good enough and so, Pip begun her Instagram page @midwife_pip followed by her online courses where she is on hand to support and guide you through all aspects of pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum every step of the way. Friendly, non-judgemental advice and all with the benefit of exclusive community support groups. Pip is here to create empowered, positive experiences for all!
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