Sunday, 6 December 2009

Birth Companion's Role

The most important thing for the birth companion to understand is their role on the day and mums you will want to let them know what your expectations are. These are broken down into a number of categories.

Simple Nurturing

  • Getting water and snacks
  • Helping mum to change position
  • Getting a track ready on your ipod (click here for information on my Hypno 4 Birth Home Study programme and individual mp3s)
  • Reminding mum to go to the loo
  • Etcetera
Supporting your relaxation

With touch

  • On the HypnoBirthing course we teach a specific technique for anchoring (linking the dads placement of his hand on the mums shoulder to the mum being in a deeply relaxed state). The aim being that during labour he could simply place his hand on her shoulder and she will move more deeply into a state of relaxation. However, I believe that with most couples that these anchors are already there. As long as your partner is in a relaxed state I'm sure if he placed his hand on your shoulder during labour you would find it reassuring and therefore relaxing.
  • Light touch massage (gently stroking the back and arms with the fingernails)
With words

In the same way that you would find your partners touch reassuring as long as he is calm, similarly if he speaks to you in a calm, relaxed, quiet way during labour, using soothing prompts at appropriate times, this will also help you to feel calm and relaxed. These can be as simple as "you are doing great", "I love you", I'm so proud of you", "our baby is coming, its so exciting".

With your relaxation techniques

  • Facial relaxation - if there is any tensions in the face dad can remind mum to place the tip of her tongue behind her front upper teeth to enable the lower jaw to recede and relax. In turn this will send relaxation down through the body.
  • As mum finishes a surge to say "now give me a nice relaxing breath in" - dad to breathe in which will cause mum to follow - and then to breathe out with some sound which will again cause mum to follow. As he is doing that to say "reeee" on the in breath and "laaaaaaaax" on the out breath (I promise this is easier to do than explain in writing). This encourages mum to take a calm, relaxing breath at the end of a surge and ensures she moves more deeply into a state of relaxation.
  • Should something bring mum out of her state of relaxation/trance a very quick and easy way for her to go back in (if it has been practised) is for dad to say "close your eyes, give me a nice relaxing breath in and as you breathe out 5,4,3,2,1 relax). This is incredibly simple but well worth using as much as you can prior to labour as you will reap the rewards when you are having your baby. Click here for a free mp3 to practise this.
As advocate and protector of the birth experience

Obviously with any Hypnosis for Childbirth programme what you are learning is based on your labour and birth not having any special circumstances (complications). However, sometimes there maybe talk of intervention that is not absolutely necessary and is based on AVOIDING a problem occurring as opposed to there being one at the time (many doctors like to err on the side of caution).

Should this happen it is worth your birth companion asking some simple questions. I should add as a pre-cursor to this that this will be helped if you have done the following:
  • Written a short and simple birth plan which has laid out your expectations of birth (you can read mine here).
  • On arrival your birth companion has met with your midwife and taken them through your birth plan and expectations of birth (take extra copies in case there is a shift change and he has to do this again). Mentioning that should there be any talk of intervention he would like to have the opportunity to ask some appropriate questions. Reassuring them that at no time will your birth plan be more important than the health of mum and baby.
The questions that he will want to ask are:
  • What is the medical indication for suggestion this?
  • What would happen if we didn't do it?
  • Would you be prepared to wait for 5, 10, 15 minutes in order for us to do some relaxation work together?
  • Is my partner or baby in IMMEDIATE danger?
Once your partner has asked these questions he is then able to come and discuss options with you. The thing to remember if they albeit reluctantly give you more time to have confidence in this. When there is a TRUE EMERGENCY they will not give you time.

As I've mentioned throughout it is important for your birth companion to also be in a calm, relaxed state. Adrenalin is catching and therefore any fear or stress within your partner can be passed on to you. Practising the hypnosis techniques together supports this but if you've got a partner who is not able to practise with you (for whatever reason) remember if you put on your relaxation mp3s when they are also relaxing (eg on going to bed) their subconscious will be hearing the positive suggestions too.

Along with going through what I've mentioned in this blog entry I would strongly recommend that the birth companion does a fear release session as this will help them ensure that they are feeling fully confident about their role in supporting you when you are having your baby.

If you have any questions following reading this blog entry please add a comment and I will answer them for you.

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