A birth partner has nothing much to do in terms of physical or medical assistance. But his/her very presence could itself mean volumes to the mother, something that no doctor or nurse can provide in a labour room. They are:
A partner is someone who knows the patient more than anyone else in the labour room and so it is logical that he/she understands the patients’ needs and act quickly. The partner could explain to the mother what is going on with her at various stages, helping her keep her mental cool through the tough hours. He/she could speak up to the medical practitioner/doctor and then debrief the mother on the medical process that is followed.
It helps the mother to be aware of what is going on with her and to take planned decisions.
The anxiety and pain of the mother can be handled by words of reassurance, and praise. Just words of comfort, a gentle touch, holding the hand to make her feel that she is cared for and is not alone, will give her strength and the courage needed.
The partner helps the expectant mother in breathing exercises and massages, he/she could help the mother to sit in a comfortable position or to move to a comfortable position and give the mother water to drink regularly. During long labour, he/she can help her to a birth pool or shower (under medical supervision). The partner could also be someone who has had previous experience of childbirth or is one who has given birth herself. The reason being, that since they have experienced labour and the whole process themselves, they are aware of what to expect and panic less. A calm and emotionally strong partner can play a great influence on the emotional wellbeing of the expectant mother, thereby making the process of labour comforting.
Can One Have A Birth Partner In A C-Section?
Yes, a birth partner plays an important role not only in a normal delivery but also in an operation theatre (C-section). As a caesarean delivery is not done under general anaesthesia, the patient is quite aware of the sounds and movement around her. In this case, the birth partner can:
- Be physically present by the head of the patient.
- Talk to her and reassure her.
- Hold her hands and gently massage her to give the mother a reassurance that she is not alone among strangers
- In case of an emergency C-section, the partner could speak to the doctor and then debrief the mother thereby mentally preparing her.
Who Is An Ideal Birth Partner?
As the word “partner “goes it is best if the person assisting the mother shares a strong relationship of mutual trust, respect and understanding with her. And so, the one that best suits the role of a birth partner could be the grandmother of the baby (mother/mother-in-law of the patient), father of the baby, a close relative of the patient (aunt, sister) or a trusted friend.
Can A Spouse/Father Of The Baby Be A Birth Partner?
Yes, a father can also play the role of a birth partner. However, this practice is uncommon in our country. Though it has become a routine in many places, for cultural, religious reasons and for the fact that he is inexperienced, it might not be the best option. Experts say that having a woman to relate to at this time can boost confidence in the mother and ensure a smooth delivery.
How Should A Partner (Or The Father) Be Prepared?
The birth partner should be well aware of what happens through a labour process. He/she must also be aware to expect the unexpected and should be someone who can provide emotional strength. The partner should also be someone who can help make decisions in case of any need. He should be prepared for long hours of labour and rehearse coping techniques.
Attending antenatal classes along with the mother is a good way for one to be prepared/to know what to expect. There are also numerous books available that give an insight into childbirth. The partner should have a hospital bag ready with enough fluids, snacks, a fresh set of clothes etc., kept at hand for both him and the mother. He should be mentally prepared to lend utmost help and should be someone to rely on when needed. And needless to say, in a country like ours we have the assistance and support of the entire family.