There is great importance in partners understanding the “why’s” and “how’s” of supporting the mom during labor and birth. As a childbirth educator, how do you prepare (educate) the expectant mother’s life partner for labor and birth? I have been teaching birth preparation classes for almost two decades, and for many of these years, I ask BOTH mom and her partner what their expectations are for the class. Nine times out of ten, partner will respond “I’m just here to support her; she’s doing all the work”. I then explain the class is not just for mom, but for them as well.
I ask questions like, “so HOW will you support her? What kinds of things will you do for her? If her low back is hurting her during a contraction, do you know why it is hurting and how you can support her?” When I, myself, am learning, it is immensely important for me to understand the physiological aspect of what is happening, so I can better understand how to change, fix or help the issue. And, that is how I educate my students.
Within the first hour I am with my students, I am educating on the importance of awareness and consciousness, for both parents, while growing their baby. The fact that their baby is emotionally feeling what mom is emotionally feeling, whether it be sadness, stress or happiness. I ask partners how they communicate with their unborn baby. I get some giggles but mostly looks of confusion, as many do not even think to talk, sing or read to their baby or even touch mom’s belly. I talk about the importance of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and babies are aware and react in utero. That look of confusion changes to wonderment.
I strongly feel this may be a first step in helping partners feel a real connection with their unborn baby. Their baby may have just become more “real” in their minds. This seems to help them take class more seriously and thus retain information better.
After discussing signs of labor, I quiz partners and they surprise themselves with their knowledge. During our discussion of stages of labor, I ask partners to form a group (I will have moms group up with a different task) and come up with ideas for supporting mom when in labor. I, of course, will add a few that were not thought of. But, to see the mom’s faces when hearing all the wonderful ideas their partners came up with is great.
Let us use back labor as an example. While discussing the below, I use a model pelvis and baby doll so they have a visual.
- Explain what back labor is What it can feel like
- Why it can happen
- How often it can happen
- How to help prevent it
- Demonstrate how to help mom’s back feel better
- Practice what was demonstrated
- How to help baby rotate
I apply the same as above, while talking about deep belly breathing and relaxation. Of course, it is important for moms to understand the physiological process of deep belly breathing and relaxation. However, if partner can feel how it works as well as understand how it works, they can then better support mom.
CCCE, CLD, Childbirth Educator Faculty
Eron Cardinal, CCCE started her journey as a birth worker in 1998 as a birth doula and began teaching childbirth classes in 1999. After the birth of her third child in 2010, and the passing of her second husband in 2011, she sadly needed to cut back on doula work. She did however find great comfort and reward in continuing to educate growing Vermont families. Eron is the owner of Naturally You Childbirth, MoonMother Doula Care, as well as the creator and organizer of VT’s Original Pregnancy & Baby Expo. She is currently working on “a new baby” called Conscious BirthWork: Conception, Birth & Beyond which will offer classes to women and their partners, pre-conception to early pregnancy, regarding conscious thinking, choices and connection with self, partner and baby as well as conscious birth preparation.