Provide Good Labor Support with 5 Easy Tips

When learning how to be a good labor support person, it can be overwhelming for a partner — How will I remember everything, How will I know what to do, How can I help her? It’s true that there is a lot of information to know when it comes to labor and birth. But you can rest easy knowing that providing good labor support can be as easy as remembering this acronym: DEPPS. Drink, Eat, Pee, Position, Support/Soothe. Birth partners, when mom is in labor, you officially take on the role of DEPPS Manager. Good labor support can be boiled down into five easy tips:

Drink – Staying hydrated in labor is so important. Encourage mom to drink water after every contraction so she can stay hydrated throughout labor without the use of IV fluids.

Eat – No one would run a marathon without refueling, and the same is true in birth (which is generally much longer than the average marathon!). Keep track of the last time she had something other than water. If it has been longer than 2-3 hours,  offer and encourage mom to eat something, even if it’s light (honey sticks, juice, apple sauce, nuts, granola). Be sure to pack your labor bag with a range of nutrition options. And yes, it IS safe to eat during labor!

Pee – Seems silly that a person would have to be reminded to pee, but a mom in labor has other things on her mind! Emptying her bladder once an hour can help labor progress — an empty bladder makes more room for baby to come down.

Position – Changing positions frequently in labor (about once an hour) helps labor progress and allows mom to continue to find comfort in different ways. For resources on different positions to use in labor, check out this resource from Lamaze, or this guide from Penny Simkin.

Support/Soothe – This one is HUGE. Providing continuous support to a laboring woman is the key to a better birth experience. This can be done in a variety of ways, but usually includes hands-on soothing through touch and massage, and verbal encouragement (you’re doing great, you’re so strong, you’re almost there). You can learn and practice the most effective ways to support a laboring woman by taking a quality childbirth class.

Giving the Gift of Confidence to Your Partner in Labor

In labor, your partner can be your best ally in supporting you and communicating your needs and preferences to hospital staff. But many dads and partners report feeling unprepared, anxious, and in-the-dark about what to do during labor and birth. They worry about how to tell when their partner is in labor, knowing when to head to the hospital or birth center, how best to support and comfort their partner, and how they’ll respond to and care for their new baby. Many things come intuitively in labor, birth, and parenting, but preparing in advance can help boost your partner’s confidence. While you can never truly know what to expect until you experience it, taking a quality childbirth class greatly helps prepare you — and especially partners — for this next stage of life.

Partners and dads who take a good childbirth class will learn how to:

  • Recognize pre- and early labor signs and how best to support you during that time
  • Time contractions to help determine your labor pattern so you can focus on the work of laboring
  • Evaluate when it’s time to go to your place of birth
  • Use a variety of comfort measures to help you in labor
  • Suggest position changes if you experience “back labor”
  • Communicate effectively with hospital staff so you can get the best care in labor
  • Help you make critical decisions about you and your baby’s care
  • Support you in the different ways you need through the changing stages of labor
  • Be your breastfeeding advocate
  • Comfort and care for your new baby

To find the best childbirth class for you and your partner, be sure to do your homework. Often, generic classes given at the hospital are not the same quality as private classes taught by a certified childbirth educator. (Check out these 5 tips for choosing a childbirth class.) If you take the time to carefully evaluate the class you want to take, you’ll be glad you did — the education you receive will be worth it. (Find a Lamaze class.)

How did childbirth classes help your partner prepare for birth?

 

Want to get a jump-start on your education? Lamaze is offering a free parent webinar on December 9. Details are below.

Link Love Round Up: Preparing for Birth

There are so many, many wonderful resources on the ‘net that can help prepare you for birth. I encourage you to take a few moments and click through — the following links are worth the read!

 

What’s the best position to give birth in…? – Great visual demonstration of the many ways you can give birth.

The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between – In every pregnancy, we all get to this point. This may be just the inspiration you need to keep plugging away.

The Fifth “P” of Birth – The Partner – Your partner is experiencing a journey, too. And just like you, he or she may be feeling nervous and uncertain about your upcoming birth. This article provides gentle guidance to help boost your partner’s confidence.

Birth Without Fear – Birth Stories – Sometimes, the best way to mentally prepare for your own birth is to surround yourself with amazing, strong birth stories from other women who have gone before you.

Bringing Your Second (or Third or More!) Baby Home – Fantastic tips to prepare a sibling.

Tips for Becoming A Top-Notch Pregnancy Partner

The following article is one of many resources found on the Lamaze.org website for expectant parents, where you can also find a  Lamaze class locator tool

 

Being a knowledgeable and supportive pregnancy partner isn’t always easy. Between your partner’s body changes and countless doctor appointments, it can be challenging to keep everything straight. Check out a few quick tips below to help ensure that you are prepared for labor and birth.

Understand the challenges in childbirth care, and know how to advocate for mom and your baby

Sometimes hospitals or physicians replace best practices for labor and birth with routine practices for labor and birth. Those routine practices can sometimes make it harder to achieve the safest and healthiest birth for mom and baby.

  • Learn how to spot care that’s not evidence-based, so you can help steer clear of practices that don’t help, and may actually harm mom and baby
  • Know mom’s preferences, and work with your provider to make sure the care she receives is the care she wants

Prepare for the big day and the big push

Knowing your role during these pregnancy milestones will make a tangible impact on labor and birth.

  • Know basic facts about labor and birth, and identify where you come in during these stages
  • Beware of the “due date,” and be ready to keep yours and mom’s expectations in check if she goes “late”
  • Recognize the signs of true labor, and remember that labor is typically a marathon, not a sprint, for first-time moms
  • Be mindful of unnecessary interventions like confinement to bed, continuous monitoring or restricting food and drink
  • Know what mom prefers for minimizing pain, and make sure she can access pain management tools like using a shower or tub
  • Reinforce mom’s ability to have immediate skin-to-skin contact, and support a good start to breastfeeding

Use your knowledge to ensure a safe and healthy birth for mom and baby

Apply your understanding of childbirth care challenges and preparation for mom’s labor and birth preferences to maximize your support during your baby’s birthday.

  • Take a childbirth class with your partner to talk about your experiences with other couples, and to learn about the different labor and birth options available
  • Be ready to step in and advocate for mom’s preferences during labor and birth by partnering with healthcare professionals to get information on the options you have, especially in difficult situations
  • Refer to Push for Your Baby resources and Lamaze’s website for additional resources on how to be an optimum pregnancy partner

To download a PDF copy of this tip sheet please click here!

For more information on being a top-notch pregnancy partner, watch Lamaze’s recorded webcast on the topic at  http://www.lamaze.org/parentevents.

Become a Top-Notch Pregnancy Partner: What You Need to Know

Every dad and birth partner has an important role to play in supporting the safest, healthiest birth possible. Get off to a great start in your role by learning all that you can, beginning with Lamaze’s free webinar on what every birth partner needs to know.

WEBCAST: June 20, from 8:00PM- 9:00PM ET

Your partner is pregnant and the big day is almost here! Are you prepared to support her in having the safest and healthiest experience possible? This is your opportunity to get armed with important information that will help you in your role supporting your partner; and your chance to ensure positive outcomes for mom and baby!

The “Becoming a Top-Notch Pregnancy Partner: What Every Partner Needs to Know” webcast will prepare you to:

  • Recognize the milestones that occur at the end of pregnancy and will help signal when it’s time to gear up for labor and birth.
  • Feel confident that you know what to do and where to go when the big moment arrives.
  • Understand the challenges you may face in childbirth care and give you tips to deal with the gaps between evidence and practice.
  • Feel comfortable when you need to reinforce mom’s preferences, make sure she can use things she’s been promised, like access to a tub or shower.
  • Identify resources available to help you both prepare for the optimal labor and delivery.

 

Your presenters are Piper Lovemore, LCCE and her husband Chaz. Piper is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and doula who teaches classes alongside her husband, Chaz, in Hawaii. While Piper sticks to evidence-based information parents need to prepare, she brings Chaz in to talk about becoming a top-notch pregnancy partner and give expecting dads a real life outlook on what to expect.

Five Tips for Expectant Dads to Prepare for Labor and Birth

Around Lamaze, it’s Father’s Day every day! That’s because we understand and celebrate the value of the role that fathers play in contributing to a safe and healthy birth for their partners. The following article is one of many resources found on the Lamaze.org website for expectant parents, where you can also find a tool to locate a Lamaze class near you

When it comes to childbirth, popular media often love to portray fathers as helpless and incompetent during labor and birth. When labor starts, the mother-to-be calmly manages her contractions as the dad sets into a panic, leaving behind the pre-packed bag, taking a wrong turn to the hospital, or running the halls searching for a nurse.

In reality, dads often play a critical role in supporting mothers during pregnancy and birth and advocating for safe care. As Father’s Day approaches, Lamaze International wants expectant dads to know that childbirth education goes a long way when it comes to learning how to be the most helpful, from the moment they find out they’re expecting through the first contraction and beyond.

Cherington Shucker and Darin Gehrke of New York welcomed their first child earlier this year and talked about their experience in Lamaze’s Push for Your Baby video, “Parents Push”: www.Lamaze.org/pushforyourbaby-video. Both agreed that Darin’s participation in childbirth education classes enabled him to take an active, positive role in the delivery of their child.

“To help ease the pain of childbirth, I was able to support Cherington in using various types of pain-relief techniques,” said Gehrke. “We knew in advance that there were many natural options to find greater comfort, and it was especially important for us to avoid any unneeded medical interventions that could lead us down the road to a cesarean birth.”

The importance of fathers advocating for the best care is underscored by persistent and growing gaps in the quality of care women and babies often receive. A recent report by Consumer Reports says, too often, unnecessary medical interventions are used in birth, increasing risks to mothers and babies.i For example, unnecessary cesarean births can come with unintended health consequences for mom and baby, including breathing problems for baby or complications in future pregnancies for mom. One recent study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood even suggests that babies born by cesarean may have about twice the risk of becoming obese as infants delivered vaginally.ii

Other interventions pose challenges to the health of moms and babies too, including early induction (performed before 39 weeks of pregnancy), epidurals and electronic fetal monitoring.

“Dads can play a key role early on in pregnancy to help mom and baby get the care that’s safest and healthiest,” said Lamaze President-elect Tara Owens Shuler, MEd, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, Director of Continuing Education, Special Projects, and Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program for the Duke AHEC Program. “He’s a very important advocate, and can provide emotional support for mom throughout labor and birth.”

Here are five tips to help dads prepare for and provide support through pregnancy, labor and birth:

I.  Take a childbirth education class with your partner.

The benefits of a good childbirth education class can often be overlooked. A class can help dads, and other support people, learn about the different options and interventions, and get the tools and knowledge to push for the best care during pregnancy, labor and birth. It can also spark the conversation between and among couples, so you can learn from one another and interact with other expectant parents in your shoes.

II.  Work with mom to plan.

Talk things through with one another and with your care provider. Chances are greater for a positive birth outcome if support begins early on in pregnancy. Discuss the different options for a safe and healthy birth, and map a pathway to get there. Labor and birth can be a dynamic process so it’s vital to work with mom to create Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.

III.  Learn how to be an advocate for mom.

Birth is an intense process, emotionally and physically. It’s important for dads to be informed and know how to advocate for her wishes. She may come under pressure from family members or healthcare providers and the father’s voice is important in pushing for the safest, healthiest care.

IV.  Find out about techniques to help minimize the pain.

There are many natural ways, such as relaxation, to find greater comfort in childbirth and help labor progress. Every woman is unique and has her own ways of feeling safe, comfortable and relaxed. Whether she uses a hot shower or bath, hip squeezes and pressure points, or birth ball exercises, dads can help mom identify the pain-relief tools that are best suited for her individual needs.

V.  Be prepared to welcome baby into the world.

Help mom recover. Birth can be exhausting for both mom and baby, and dad can help to support both after birth. He can help mom by managing visitor times, rocking baby to sleep after feeding, and making sure mom is fed and gets enough rest.

Expectant dads can find out even more at www.PushForYourBaby.com.

 

References

i “What to reject when you’re expecting.” Consumer Reports. May 2012. Available online: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/what-to-reject-when-you-re-expecting/index.htm. Accessed 6/12/12.

ii Huh, S., et. al. Archives of Diseases in Childhood. March 2012. Available online:http://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2012/05/09/archdischild-2011-301141.abstract?sid=4f920274-7dd6-40cc-b98b-fe9f4f5d9076. Accessed 6/12/12.

Love the One You’re With: Bonding with Your Baby During Pregnancy

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! If you’re pregnant, you have a new valentine to consider this year. And while your little one won’t be looking for flowers or chocolate, there are ways you can begin to bond with your baby even before he or she (or they!) arrive. The following are tips compiled and excerpted from a Lamaze.org article on bonding with baby.

 

Take it slow. “Bonding” refers to the feelings of love and empathy that parents develop for their children. The bond you feel with your baby isn’t instantaneous; it will grow slowly yet steadily over the months of pregnancy until the day you meet your child and begin life as a family.

 

Write it down. It’s very normal to experience fears and concerns during your pregnancy. It’s important to give yourself space to deal with your fears in a way that works for you. Write in a journal or draw pictures of what’s going through your head. Share your concerns with your partner, as well as with your friends, pregnant or not. Expressing your thoughts will help you deal with them and accept your child into your life.

 

Double the love. If your partner feels removed from your pregnancy, help him with this simple exercise. Have him put his hand on your abdomen, and when he feels movement or when you tell him you sense the baby, have him say, “Hello, baby.” If he does this a few times a day for a week or two, he’ll feel more connected to both of you. Pretty soon, the baby may even kick his hand at the sound of your partner’s voice.

 

Take heart. If you have a hard time connecting emotionally with your baby during your pregnancy, it’s OK. Your body will continue to nourish and protect your baby even if your heart isn’t quite there yet. And more than likely, once your baby is born or shortly after, you will develop a close and connected relationship that will be like none other.

 

In what ways did you bond with your baby during pregnancy? Did you have a difficult time bonding? Share your comments for other moms to read — your words may reach someone who’s in need of encouragement!

 

Breastfeeding & Parenting: One Family’s Experience

By Lauralee Moss

Creative Commons photo by Raphael GoetterColds and the flu always surrounded my poor babies. Before I stayed home with them, I taught high school language arts. My students gave their nasty germs to me, and even though I nursed my children, they still got “lighter” versions of my illnesses. Seeing sick babies is always difficult for me, but it’s even more tough with a nursling who struggles to latch with a stuffed nose.

My husband and I created a routine to make nursing a sick baby easier: I showered and dressed before work, and then he showered. Only about five minutes into his time, I handed him a small towel and an infant. The warm water and steam rinsed off goopy eyes and cleared stuffy noses. Daddy finished showering, and I nursed a relaxed and latch-able baby.

I no longer teach, but my older two children are in school and bring home germs to the baby. We continue our routine, as he still volunteers to shower the baby if the tiny nose stuffs up again.

This seemingly small task makes my nursing life easier, as does all of my husband’s help. Nursing is an important, but fractional part of our larger parenting work. I may do the actual, physical feeding, but their father provides indispensable support as I nurse.

I’ve heard friends make the argument that by formula-feeding, they are not the only ones responsible for feeding — that the father will bond with the baby and will do “just as much work” as the mom.

In our family, we have found ways, apart from feeding, for my husband to bond with our babies. Showering tiny sick ones is just one of those ways. He lifted our babies’ tiny arms to wake them when they fell asleep at the breast. He carefully positioned them around my cesarean section incision for more comfortable nursing. He remembered advice from the lactation consultants and pediatrician as I sat in a new-mom daze. He helped me cover myself with a blanket as I ventured out as a new mother. As I grew in my confidence, he stood beside me as I publicly breastfed without a cover. He has listened to me discuss my breastfeeding theories and observations and defended me when family members questioned why I was still feeding our baby “on the boob.” When others question why I didn’t start feeding our first baby solids at four months, he quoted the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization statements about breastfeeding for six months.

Now that I nurse our third child, he provides healthy answers for our older two children when they ask: “How does the milk come out? Where does the milk go? Why does Cara not drink from a bottle? I want to see the MILK!” Most importantly, when my impressionable son asked why I nurse the baby, my husband said, “Because that is how it is supposed to be.”

Normalizing the process for the next generation — acting as a role model for a son — is important work. My husband has defended, physically helped, and mentally supported my breastfeeding. He does it all, not because he came to our parenting relationship as an outspoken breastfeeding advocate, but because we parent the best way we know how, and we do that together.

We have always seen breastfeeding as a part of parenting — and we parent together. I supply the food for a tiny fraction of our children’s lives. He has at least seventeen years to feed our babies.  I have breasts for food — he has big bear shoulders for the kids to ride around the house. Together, we provide both the physical and mental nourishment for our children.

 

Lauralee Moss lives in Illinois with her husband, three children, and crazy dog. She writes at switchingclassrooms.com.

Bonding with Baby Now

By Phyllis Klaus, MFT, CSW

As with pregnancy, bonding with baby develops over time. It, too, is a process that, with your care and attention, will deepen and progress with each passing day. Do you remember when you learned you were pregnant? Surely it was a deeply emotional moment. A second before, you were responsible for yourself and a second after you were forever linked to a new being growing inside you. The bond you feel with your baby isn’t as instantaneous; it will grow slowly yet steadily over these months of pregnancy until the day you meet your child and begin life as a family.

“Bonding” refers to the feelings of love and empathy that parents develop for their children. During pregnancy, sometimes that love is manifested in the form of dreams and fears about your baby and future as a mother. Positive, loving dreams can help you connect with your little one, but fearful ones can diminish your confidence about your baby’s health or your own capabilities. Let your health-care provider worry about your baby’s health. Then give yourself space to deal with your other fears in a way that works for you. Write in a journal or draw pictures of what’s going through your head. Share your concerns with your partner, as well as with your girlfriends, pregnant or not. Expressing your thoughts will help you deal with them and accept your child into your life.

Another way to begin bonding with baby is to send him loving messages. During a quite moment, put your hands on your abdomen and send happy thoughts and energy to the baby: how excited you are to meet him, what you plan to do when he arrives, how you can’t wait to have him as part of your family. Many women say this activity makes them less anxious and worried about their pregnancy.

The Power Of Your Partner

Your partner is a major factor in how you feel about your baby. If your partner is excited about your pregnancy, watches over you, protects you and takes care of you, you will likely feel closer to your child. But if your partner is unhappy or hesitant, then you may have doubts and worries too.

Your partner may be nervous about being a dad because he’s unhappy with how he was parented or his own childhood. That’s why now is a good time to talk to him about how each of you grew up, both the good and the bad. Discuss what kind of relationship you had with your parents. You don’t just have to start a conversation out of the blue; wait until a situation presents itself. Your friends might tell you they don’t have a set bedtime for their toddler, or you may see a couple in the supermarket letting their child select a sugary cereal. Use these incidents as starting points for conversations; discuss how your parents handled such issues and what you would do with your own child. By talking about your upbringing, you can establish a unified front on how you will raise your kids and address any fears that your partner may have about being a parent.

You should also discuss your feelings about the baby, how he has and will alter your life. When you and your partner can talk freely about the many changes that a baby will bring to your relationship, finances and lifestyle, you can continue to support each other and see the baby as enhancing your life instead of disrupting it.

If your partner feels removed from your pregnancy, help him with this simple exercise. Have him put his hand on your abdomen, and when he feels movement or when you tell him you sense the baby, have him say, “Hello, baby.” If he does this a few times a day for a week or two, he’ll feel more connected to both of you. Pretty soon, the baby may even kick his hand at the sound of your partner’s voice.

Your child was conceived out of deep love. That’s why bonding with baby doesn’t have to wait until she’s born: It really starts the moment that you find out you are pregnant, and it continues throughout your pregnancy. Not only is it a way for you to get closer to your child, it will also help you grow closer to your partner. And becoming an even more solid couple will help prepare you for your newly bestowed title: parents.

Lamaze Care Practices: What They Are & How They Can Help

Common sense tells us and research confirms that the Six Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices featured in these video clips and print materials are tried-and-true ways to make birth as safe and healthy as possible. But don’t take our word for it — click through to watch each of the short clips to learn more about safe & healthy birth and how best to achieve it, no matter where you give birth.

Introduction: Safe and Healthy Birth Practice - Download PDF

#1: Let Labor Begin on Its Own - Download PDF

#2: Walk, Move & Change Positions - Download PDF

#3: Have Continuous Support - Download PDF

#4: Avoid Unnecessary Interventions - Download PDF

#5: Get Upright & Follow Urges to Push - Download PDF

#6: Keep Your Baby With You - Download PDF

Download the complete booklet here.

Lamaze International partnered with InJoy Productions and their new Mother’s Advocate program to provide you with this free, evidence-based educational material.