Support in Labour – Tips For Dads Guest blog by Lesley Gilchrist
Support in Labour – Tips For Dads. Guest Blog by Lesley Gilchrist of Bespoke Birthing
You will have been given many tasks during your partner’s pregnancy and now that the birth of your child is fairly close you will have completed them all and are now waiting patiently for labour to begin. When it does happen keep calm and keep smiling. There are many things about your partner’s imminent behaviour that may shock and surprise you and it is important that you do not convey this to her, but equally you are not expected to empathise with the pain of every contraction and nor should you. If your partner feels that she can cope on her own for a while then don’t feel guilty, go to bed and get some rest. Women have been prepared for the sleep deprivation involved in labour, men have not. Encourage her to drink throughout labour and offer her food and remember to do that too. When your partner’s contractions become intense she will need you to be strong, supportive and reassuring. So, with that in mind under NO circumstances do the following:
Do not tell your partner (or your midwife) that ‘she is tired’
Equally heinous is telling your partner (or your midwife) that she is ‘in too much pain’ or ‘cannot do this any longer.
And never, ever tell anyone how tired or in how much pain you are in – you will be summarily tortured by all.
On a serious note though, labour is similar mentally to running a marathon. All positive aspects must be reinforced and where there is no place for negative thoughts. Most importantly, when you are watching your partner in pain, ask yourself this question. ‘Is this upsetting my partner, can she no longer cope or is it me that it is upsetting and can I no longer cope?’ If it is the latter, remember that your partner does not have the emotional time to worry about how you are coping. Have a hard word with yourself and tell yourself to get a grip. Then, tell your partner how strong and amazing she is, because she is and she is doing all this for you and your baby.
Once you are on labour ward the atmosphere may change and you may find it more challenging to question situations that you are unsure or unhappy about. You are your partner’s advocate, her voice so make sure that your midwife understands your partner’s birth plan and any other wishes she may have for the birth. There may also be occasions where your midwife or obstetrician may want to talk about possible intervention that may be needed, for example the hormone drip. As this point you may feel overwhelmed with responsibility so, in order to ensure that you both have all the information needed to make the right choices try using this tool:
B What are the benefits of the proposed treatment or intervention?
R What are the reasons that this may be needed?
A Is there an alternative and if so what is it, what are the risks and benefits.
I What does your partner’s instincts tell her to do?
N What happens if we do nothing?
By using this tool you should discover whether or not the intervention is entirely necessary and be reassured as to the reasons for it and if it’s not, find out what the alternatives are. During this discussion ensure that your partner has heard and understands the information and ask her to make the final decision, she may ask your opinion so don’t be afraid to have your say too. If in doubt ask your midwife to go over it again, she will be only too happy. And finally, look after yourself too, take breaks when you need them, eat and drink regularly and sleep when you can, no one is superman, not even you.