Hi there,

Can I just ask everyone here whats the best ... and worst ... things their partners can do during childbirth?

We are having a home birth in 4 and a bit weeks (or less) and, looking forward to the delivery, I'm trying to be a rock for my wife as it;s her first kid and she is pretty nervous ... though she won't admit it. But all is well on course and seems healthy.

My problem is, I tend to lose it a bit when people I love are in pain and I want to remain calm and zen-like for her sake ... and my own.

I've been reading the books and watching the videos and going to the scans, etc. But I know from my first two kids birth's (previous relationship) that that all goes out the window when the birth pangs appear. Granted, they were hospital births and were, thank God, very, very quick and smooth, but things were out of your hands and, I confess, I fainted the first time.

So, I was wondering if you would be kind enough to give me some of your wisdom when it comes to your partners role when the fun really starts in a home birth.

And of course I'd like hints from the men folk in these here parts.



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Hi Brandi,

We don't have a Doula but our mid-wife has a wonderful assistant who will help anyway she can. Yeah, I got to get used to whole feeling one way but saying another thing.

I'm a nervous flyer and I always look at the air stewards when we are going through turbulence and their calm demeanor reassures me.

So I guess mid-wives are the new air stewards ... I'll look at their smiles when the going gets tough to reassure me.

I hope they remember their drinks trolley.

We had a doula at our home birth. My husband asked for her to be there 10% to help me and 90% to help him help me. I felt my husband's presense more than another person in the room. The doula really helped him feel comfortable and confident so he could stay calm. He said she was a HUGE help for him.

Mostly he had his forehead on my forehead and said things like breath slow, relax, lower your shoulders, relax your mouth, you're doing great. I really don't remember what he said, but I do remember his calm tone and his physical presense which was EXACTLY what I needed. It made the birth about our family and relationship and I was soooo happy that he was there for me. That's the only thing you can really do and it's all that matters.

Home births are in your comfort / control zone so take advantage of creating a calming environment. For me, that meant just silence and low light. I had a water birth in a birth pool (about 3 ft deep and 5 feet in diameter with a hard side for leaning) that had a heater to keep the water warm. That made it easier for me to hold the only comfortable position I could find since it reduces the weight and because it kept me warm even though I wasn't dressed during the labor.
Didn't see that your reply above. I talked about getting a doula with my midwife. Yes, many of the things they do are the same. However, my midwife said they were great for long labors since she needs to be fresh and alert. The other thing is that doulas can do is all the little stuff - taking pictures of the birth, getting food / water, preparing a bath post-birth, cleaning up. They are also great advocates for you if a transport is needed (which I'm sure it won't be). Maybe we just have a great doula, but I swear I thought it was worth it. Also, something our midwife suggested was getting someone to cook and clean for 3 days - 2 weeks after the birth. This way your new family can all focus on getting to know each and resting.
I've had 4 kids, 3 in hospital, last one at home, and I can also say - please try to find a doula! Don't even worry about the cost, just do it somehow, really.

We had two midwives at our last birth, and one friend who helped with the 2 year old, my partner AND a doula and I squeezed the hands / arms of my partner and a doula the WHOLE time (and hard - I left marks and felt I needed both of them constantly). The two midwives were very busy the whole time - granted it was 5 hours of pushing and the midwives showed up during the pushing, so it was short, so their set up took a while... but you can not have too many people to help. Our midwives seemed busy the whole time taking information / heart rate, setting up equipment, etc... Especially if you need to step out and take a deep breath. Even with all of those people there, when my partner left for 2 minutes to pee or get a drink, I felt desperate until he got back, so it was great to have other people get him drinks, etc!

A GREAT book to read is called "Husband Coached Childbirth" or even better, "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way - " the second one will give the husband really concrete suggestions / advise about what to do. Are you taking a class? If so, take the meditations seriously. If not, try to do some "practice" labor wiht your wife ahead of time. Have her pretend to be in extreme pain and make noises / demands and breathe deeply, encouraging her to take deep abdominal breaths, visualize something that relaxes you and / or her, and talk to her softly about the baby coming out - maybe an image you'd like is - as if his / her head is slowly pushing and opening a beautiful flower, and as natural as a flower - maybe a tulip or rose, opening. Or find your own image - like remind her that her contractions are like waves on the beach...? It is totally natural, just happens to be incredibly painful to your wife! The pain is there to open her up to let a baby come out - what a great reason for some pain or some people say "incredible sensations" and don't even describe pain (though I personally cant imagine that).

You wrote: ".. I'll look at their smiles when the going gets tough to reassure me.

I hope they remember their drinks trolley."
You have a GREAT sense of humor. Also, remember, midwives might be smiling but they might be looking really serious, so if they look serious, let their calmness and experience / skill / confidence help you feel calm. They've done this before, and they know when to transfer to the hospital if need be. (We almost did, so for a while it was really intense, then we / I pushed him out!)

Remember, humor is great now, and IF your wife likes it, in the first stage. When you get closer to transition / pushing, making her laugh might be really painful or annoying to her and might be best kept til later.

If you can't find a doula at this stage (you probably still can! There are a lot around now!) but if you can't, consider a trusted friend of hers or even yours, or family member to play "labor assistant" or doula. They can be yours and the midwives assistant - to run to the kitchen to get the washcloths wet and cold, to get drinks, to wipe up the mess in the bathroom, etc... believe me for homebirth there is no such thing as too many people - especially if it's just you and two midwives right now.

But, don't let a doula make you feel like she is more important than you. This is your chance to be your wife's hero, to have her fall in love with you more than she ever thought she could, to be there for her as her rock, etc. And if you faint, she will still love you and feel you were her rock before and after that, so no biggee! (You are NOT going to, I think that is purely a first time birth thing). I was also a labor assistant and have to say - the first time - even after training and giving birth myself- was a bit of a shock and really REALLY hard work. Just remember how much you love and admire her and tell her over and over how amazing and beautiful she is and how excited you are to meet your baby and you and your love will keep her going emotionally when she is exhausted and losing hope, if that happens to her, which is most common. The doula / midwives might be the more technical experts, but you are the expert on taking care of her heart, which is really the organ that gives birth anyway....


yes pictures! doulas are great for short births, when there's so much to do for the 2 midwives - they have to set up a bunch of stuff to make it all birth - like - it took sooooo long in my mind... or long births - or taking pictures! you want pictures! yes you do!!! ok - enjoy!
if your wife does not want a doula, that's another story... but I've had a doula at 3 out of 4 births and wish I had had one at the other one....
My husband rested with me during our homebirth, if I moved away he put a hand instinctively on the part of me that moved away from him and in terms of relief and support, comfort and encouragement, he was ALWAYS correct, uncanny really-he was even aware that touching me at all a small points during birthing was unwelcome without me saying a word. I asked him later how he could do that and he said he knows me and could feel what I needed. He is still that way bless him:) I used self hypnosis for my homebirth and went on to become a Hypnobabies instructor-I notice such natural compassion with the couples i serve as they move thru their practice, reminds me so much of our homebirth:)
Hi, Ronan,

I'm sure you will be just what your wife needs during labor. We've been watching the video "Birth Day" lately and it shows a great example of the husband just walking with his wife, looking into her eyes during the contractions. That does help a lot, believe it or not.

One thing I think you can do NOW is try to help your wife discuss her fears about the birth. It is totally normal to have fears about an upcoming Big Event (birth, wedding, bungee jump), but suppressing them only means they will leap out at the last minute when they are least welcome. If you can invite her to talk or write about her feelings and keep yours at bay while you listen, you will be doing a lot to help her go into the birth feeling confident.

Some fears she has may require follow-up after talking about them. She may decide to put something into her birth plan so she feels prepared for a certain eventuality, or otherwise prepare for something that could happen and she's worried about. My birth plan for my 5-year-old was full of these contingencies! Few of them were needed in the actual birth, but I felt more comfortable knowing I had done what I could to prepare for them.

If she is worried about the pain, there is a lot of great advice on this thread already for seeing it realistically: it is work (NOT torture, as some people seem to portray), you take contractions one at a time, and the stronger they are the faster the baby will arrive!

I encourage you to also take some time to talk with your midwife or doula about your fears. Only you can judge if your wife can listen supportively to you talking about your worries, but the midwife or doula definitely can. I'm sure that after talking things out a little, you'll feel more confident too.

Best of luck to you and your wife!
Thanks Juliet,

Great idea. We must try to do that this week.

We are both feeling a little angsty as my wife's sister had her first child Saturday after 54 hours of labor after which she bled out ... all the stuff we didn't want to hear basically. We were with her for a time and she was really suffering.

We have both been feeling a bit weird since. Mother and baby doing well thankfully.

It is great that you are seeking advice. I think the most important thing you can do is to give yourself some credit =) You know your wife. Focus on her, stay positive, and let your instincts lead.

When we had our first baby, my husband didn't even want to be in the room. I put my foot down on that one and of course he was there. Turns out, he is the most amazing birth coach/partner I could have asked for. I was so much "in my zone" that I couldn't even talk to anybody but him. He tunned in on that very quickly and more or less just made sure people left me alone to do what I needed to do. He was just there, and that was what I needed from him. He didn't talk too much, he didn't touch too much. He held my hand and he kept me focused when I needed it. Perfect.

He also knows his own limits - and that's important. He absolutely did not want to cut the cord. The idea completely freaked him out. I made sure people knew not to even ask him. Dads' feelings count too.

Also, when we had our first, we had been married less than a year. I was a little embarassed about things like - what if I'm loud, or what if I poop, or whatever... I'm sure I was, I'm sure I did. He never mentioned it, for which I was very thankful.

You will do great. Good luck to both of you!
Amazing, ronan. Enjoy every moment, and thank you so very much for the update!
Unless she tells you to zip it (lol) I find anything helpful that is along the lines of:
You're beautiful!
You're doing so well!
Our baby will be here soon!
Keep going!
You can do it!
I believe in you!
You're awesome!
Trust your body!

Don't ask her questions if you can help it, and if you have to, don't expect much more than a yes or no, and even that may not come out nicely. DH and I were talking about this last night (your post got me thinking!) and he says I wasnt nice, but really I remember it as I was trying to get the whole answer out as fast as possible becasue it was distracting and ultimatley I didnt care!

At the moment that's all I have!
I'm glad you were safe and healthy and I would have been to the hospital at the first sign of extra bleeding too. Smart to have ambulance there. We had a homebirth and came close to transporting - hadn't thought of calling an ambulance to wait outside -I dont think they do that here in MA. Where are you?

I know a woman who bled to death 2-3 days after her birth and she was so drugged up postpartum that she didn't know how much pain she was in. She refused a transfusion at the hospital and went home and drove herself back in - new moms have no idea how much blood they are supposed to lose - i always lost a 'normal' amount and it seemed like an unbelievably huge amount. I'm glad you are being cautious even now when she is ready to take on the world again. Also know a mom who died 6 weeks postpartum but that was from heart complications she had before also- but she was alone with her two little ones more than 40 hours a week from 2 weeks postpartum on.... what is wrong with our culture ? ((I look at other cultures who have women never alone for 6 weeks plus... I understand being impatient with that and maybe only 50% of moms "NEED" it but for those that do... wish we offered that for everyone - somehow...))

Sorry for the doom and gloom stories - I taught childbirth ed so know a lot of stories - these just happened to be women that I knew!

Well - CONGRATS! You are passed the birth and immediate postpartum now! How is she feeling this week?

Your baby must be beautiful and SOOOO loved...

- Leigh in MA



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