Are you wondering how your partner can or will support you during labor? Maybe you’re supporting a person through labor and wondering how best to do that, and searching for more information. If this is you, our postpartum doulas in Portland Oregon have some solid information for birth partners on how you best can support a person during labor.
We hear a lot about how a person can cope with contractions and stay comfortable with labor, and it usually revolves around what doula Penny Simkin calls the Three R’s- Relaxation (keeping your muscles soft and not tense), Rhythm (steady rhythmic breathing or movement), and Ritual (doing the same motions, breathing or actions with each contraction). These are all fantastic coping mechanisms. As doulas, we see them work again and again. However, what really makes for a satisfying birth is feeling SUPPORTED- especially if your birth didn’t read your “birth plan” ahead of time and decides to take its own path! So how can your birth partner do this?
Well, we love this simple, quick video put together by Elizabeth Mangum-Sarach, childbirth expert at PregnancyVideo.net. In it, Elizabeth helps to explain the “three R’s” for partners so that partners can have practical suggestions to offer their best support. Partners- this is for you!
Here are the Three R’s for Birth Partners:
Re-assure your partner with your voice. Often times a laboring woman just needs to hear your soft tone, that she is doing wonderful and add touch, if she allows.
Reflection- Be present with her in the moment, know where her heart and mind are during labor. If she says, “This is hard”, reflect that, “Yes, this is hard, and You’re Doing It!” Ensure to both yourself and to her that you trust her body, that you trust the process of birth and that she CAN do this!
Response- Know when to talk to her, specifically not during a contraction. (We always joke to ask the birthing person to give us a finger when a contraction is starting. Hopefully she’ll do this and it won’t be “THE” finger!)
Allow her to be within herself during a contraction, this time is for patience. Some people want quiet encouragement during this time, others want silence. Check in with her- “what’s working for you?”
Lastly, know what type of birth she wants so you can help support her in that ideal birth experience. If plans change, reflecting and affirming her wishes and feelings ensures she will feel supported along the way.
Along with the Three R’s, self care is critical. Ensure that both of you are well hydrated (at least a pint or two of water an hour!), you have eaten to sustain energy and that as a partner, you are bending your knees when physically supporting your laboring partner. Take good care of yourself so that you can best give support!
Of course, we also encourage that you have a doula alongside you to help take care of yourself, to offer extra tools, and give breaks to partners and moms.
Want to learn more? Check out our next Comfort in Labor or Birth Partner 101 class.