I teach childbirth classes in Colorado Springs, and every week we focus on a comfort measure that a laboring woman and her support person can use together.
We have a whole class in the 10 week series, dedicated to dads, helping them bring all of the tools they've learned together, to support his partner.
I've taken some of my favorites and put them together here! The thing with comfort measures, is you can't just read some tips and jot them down on your birth plan. You need to practice them! Preparing for a natural birth is like preparing for a marathon - it takes time, training, dedication, and determination. The best advice I can give you, take a Birth Boot Camp class. You can take it with me, or another instructor local to you, or you can even take it online!
Here are my favorite comfort measures for labor. Dad, you can get in on this too!
- Eat food & drink water
- "Sound" low
- Labor in water
- Keep it interesting
- Talk her through contractions
- THE DOUBLE HIP SQUEEZE
- Hire a doula
- Baby steps
- Be aware of the laboring environment
Eat food & drink water while in labor
This should be a no-brainer. Even if we are lounging around the house all day, eating and drinking are necessary. But if you're running a marathon, or in labor, eating and drinking are absolutely essential to keep up with the physical demands of your body!
Dad, offer her water, after every contraction if you need to. Be aware of when the last time she ate was. A woman does not always feel hungry in labor, but if it's been a substantial amount of time since her last meal, a little boost of sugar or protein, could be just what she needs.
Oh the sights, smells, and SOUNDS of labor
Keeping your tones low and open help you body relax. Relaxation is a key component to progressing in labor.
Dad, pay attention to how she sounds. If her pitch is high, moan with her, in a low tone, and she will "sound" with you. Ok, you don't have to practice this one. Unless of course you plan on sharing the birthing experience with other children. Will your toddlers be present at the birth? Or anytime while mom is laboring? Consider taking a Siblings at Birth class!
Laboring in water
Laboring in water has been said to be "the midwife's epidural."
Keep it interesting
Labor is challenging. It is usually an all day event, and at some point she wants it to be over! Dad, be familiar with comfort measures and positions and the benefits of them. Help her remember to change positions, change rooms, and etc. Help her to focus on something other than the contractions.
Talk her through contractions
Dad - encourage her, remind her how strong and beautiful she is, use your words to take her mind somewhere peaceful.
The double hip squeeze
Known as "the big guns of labor," you'll want to master this one before the big day. Take a class, ask your doula, watch a YouTube video, do what you need to do to learn this comfort measure, and practice it. Trust me when I say, you do not want to wait until labor to learn how to do this one.
Hire a doula
A doula knows birth and will support both mom AND dad prenatally, throughout the birth, and postpartum! She provides helpful tips, reminds you of what you learned in birth class, helps you navigate the twists and turns of birth by providing non-judgmental support, and can help you have a more positive birth experience. A doula does not give medical advice, or replace your nurse, provider or any other member of you birth team.
Labor is no easy feat. Dad, when you are guiding her to a new position, or changing things up, remember to use baby steps. Guide her little by little. For example, let's say it's time to transition to the hospital and she's laboring in the bathroom at home; first, put the robe over her, then guide her to the bed post to labor standing up, next take her to the door way, gradually moving her out to the car. If you looked at her and said, "ok, I'm going to grab the bags, let's get in the car and go," and expected her to follow you, it would be overwhelming. She needs to know you are with her. She is not doing this alone.
Be aware of the laboring environment
Oxytocin production is supported by a dark, quiet, and comfortable environment, free of unnecessary distractions and stress.
Relaxation in birth is key. >>Learn to relax for an amazing birth<<