This is a post in my series on Owning your Birth. It is my strong belief that your birth experience profoundly impacts your early days with your new child. The way you feel while birthing your baby can inform how you feel about yourself as a person, mother, and partner. If you feel respected, strong, and supported during pregnancy, labor and delivery, you will improve your chances of beginning your mothering journey with confidence and hope. If you feel disrespected, controlled, or unheard during pregnancy, labor and delivery, you may enter your mothering journey with fear and sadness.
Birth is normal and breathtakingly beautiful. But it is also mysterious and unknown, sometimes overwhelming and scary. With any labor and delivery, you can have an experience that is woman- and mother-centered. Feeling respected and heard, and experiencing your own strength and power during birth, comes down to owning the experience, even in its uncertainty. And often still, things won’t go as you expected. If you are surprised, overwhelmed, or sad about your birth experience, you will be better able to confront it and work through it if you feel prepared, strong, and confident enough to reach out for support.
You cannot plan your birth. Birth will takes its own course and we do best when we can let birth happen. But birth can happen best when we are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually at our best. In this series, I’ll share ideas about what you can do to own your birth experience.
Own Your Birth: Part 12 of 24
Communicate with your Birth Partner
What do you need to give birth confidently? What do you anticipate will help keep you relaxed during labor? What might help you if you’re losing strength or feeling scared? Go ahead, think about your answers to those questions. You can even jot them down if you want to (use your journal!). Now think about your birth partner. Does he or she know how you answered these questions? If your answer is “no” or even “probably”, it’s time to sit down and talk with your partner!
I’ve talked with numerous women who say their partners were great, but didn’t provide the exact support they needed during labor. These same women reflected on the fact that they never actually talked with their partners about what they wanted or needed and realized that they were just expecting their partner to know what to do. While it’s true that what you want or need may veer away from your original thoughts, in most cases it’s so worthwhile to talk ahead of time with your partner about your wishes. I’m guessing that you have discussed or will be discussing your birth plan with your partner. But I strongly recommend also chatting with him or her about the things you hope he or she does for you and doesn’t do during labor and birth.
- Journal your answers to the previous questions.
- Just write freely about what you imagine wanting and needing during labor and birth.
- Sit down with your birth partner and talk to him/her about your wishes.
- Ask your partner some of the following questions to gauge his/her comfort and expectations for labor and birth. Many times, birth partners aren’t given a chance to explore their own feelings surrounding the upcoming birth.
- What are your expectations for this birth?
- Do you have any fears or concerns?
- How do you anticipate being able to help me?
- Allow your partner to share without fear of judgment. If there are any fears or concerns, work as a team to address them.
- As the birth gets closer, review your wishes for physical, emotional, and verbal support with your partner.
Chances are, once labor begins, your partner and you will be so glad that you’ve shared some ideas about how to best help you.
And if you’re local to the Seacoast, bring your partner to my free workshop next week, Birth Partner 101, to learn great great tips and techniques on labor and birth support!
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Are you interested in birth and postpartum doula services on the seacoast of New Hampshire or southern Maine? I serve Dover, Durham, Somersworth, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Kittery, Eliot, and surrounding areas.