According to retailers, February is the month of love. Instead of bucking this seasonal trend, we're going to run with it at Giving Birth with Confidence -- but with a twist. We're going to focus less on chocolates and jewelry and more what's at the heart of love. Today we're talking "love languages" -- more specifically, The 5 Love Languages.
If you haven't already discovered this theory, I'll summarize briefly. The creator and author of the book The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman, tells us that everyone has a primary "love language" that they use to communicate how they best convey and interpret love from others. When partners understand each others' love language, they can strengthen their relationship by showing each other love in the "language" most suited to the individual. (If you're curious to find out more about your love language, you can take the free quiz here.)
So how do the 5 Love Languages relate to giving birth? In addition to the tried and true ways of supporting a person in labor to relieve comfort and progress labor, there are ways you can show your love and support by matching up with your partner's love language. For the person giving birth, the experience is something that will be remembered and retold for a very long time. How a person is supported and treated during labor and birth is as important as how the birth plays out. If a parent is able to look back on birth and remember their loved one(s) providing love and support, it is more likely to be a positive memorable experience.
Depending on your partner's love language (have your partner take the quiz to find out!), you can provide support during labor and birth in the following ways.
Labor & Birth Support According to the 5 Love Languages
Word of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are helpful no matter what during labor and birth, but if this your partner's primary love language, consider beefing up your verbal encouragement game! Say things like:
- You're doing great
- I love you
- You are so strong
- You can do this - you got this!
- I can't believe how awesome you are!
- This is the most amazing thing you've ever done
Acts of Service
Acts of service means doing things for your partner, and while you cannot give birth for your partner, there are many things you can do show love and support.
- Refill water
- Offer snacks -- be in charge of packing/prepping snacks prior to labor (with input from your partner)
- Be in charge of lights and door (lights down and door closed, as is often necessary in a hospital)
- Take on the role of doula caretaker
- Act as a concierge for anything that's needed for your partner for labor and birth
There are conflicting views about a "push present," but if your partner's language is gifts, consider it part of your support package. And of course, you don't have to go into debt providing a gift; something as small as a favorite snack can be seen as a gift if it's purchased by you and presented as a surprise.
- Favorite snack/drink/candy
- A charm bracelet to build on
- Note or card with a thoughtful message (to be given after birth)
- Meaningful playlist
- New robe/nightgown for after birth
- Arranging for a surprise visit from a special friend/family member after birth
If you are supporting your partner during labor, the experience itself will be quality time -- as long as you remain engaged and attentive. If your supporting your partner by sitting across the room, scrolling through Facebook or playing Words with Friends, chances are, you will not be viewed as spending quality time. Instead, use the time to be supportive in active and hands-on ways (as suggested by the ways listed in the other four love languages here). If your partner has an epidural, and is not resting, use that time for conversation, games, and other things that you enjoy doing together.
Labor support often involves a lot of physical touch to help bring comfort and relieve pain. If this is your partner's love language, physical touch from you (in other words, not just from your doula) will be very important. If you have a doula, be sure to let her know that this is important to your partner. Your doula will likely help show you specific ways to relieve pain/increase comfort and then let you take the reins. Consider providing physical touch in the form of:
- Back massage
- Foot/hand massage
- Scalp massage or brushing hair
- Sitting near your partner
- Holding hands
- Slow dancing during contractions (great position for labor!)