In this continued series, we're addressing the top 10 fears many pregnant people have of childbirth. Continuous labor support is vital in a person's birth experience. Partners, dads, doulas, family members, and friends all can serve wonderfully valuable roles as a labor support person. But what if you're worried about how well your partner will be able to support you? Let's pretend that he or she has not read any childbirth books (and doesn't plan to). Let's also pretend that he or she is nervous about childbirth, not comfortable seeing you in pain, and perhaps a little squeamish when it comes to blood and other bodily fluids. Both of these pretend scenarios are quite common! So, what can you do to help alleviate your fears about having good labor support? Let's take a look.
Get thee to a childbirth class! Seriously, this one is huge. Childbirth classes are best served for the expecting parent AND the labor support person. It will teach you and your other half valuable information for what is needed in labor and birth and how to fulfill those needs. Classes are especially helpful for partners who do not read books. But for those who do....
Stock your book shelf! The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, though lengthy, is an excellent guide for labor support. But even a basic guide that talks about what's normal in labor will be helpful.
Hire a doula. A doula is an excellent addition to any person's birth support team, no matter the kind of birth desired or how prepared your labor support person is. A doula will help support you both, allowing your partner the freedom to love and support you without anxiety over remembering what you need in labor.
Invite two people to support you. Two extra sets of hands are better than one in labor! Of course, assuming you choose wisely. Your support persons should be willing to assist you in what you need and want (make those preferences very clear long before you are in labor) without judgement or conditions.
Ask your nurse for suggestions. Though not with the kind of continuous support a doula can provide, your nurse can be helpful with suggestions for comfort and positions.
Tell your partner what you think you'll need. This is before labor begins, of course. When you're in labor, it will be much more difficult to communicate clearly your needs. Sit down with your labor support person and have a conversation about what kind of labor support you think you'll want and need. Make a cheat sheet together -- or print out helpful tips from Pinterest!