Healthy communication for birthing partners during labour

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Esther Jones is a Hypnobirthing practitioner who has been working with women and couples since 2007.

A concern often shared by both partners is how they will manage to healthy communicate with each other during labour.

Many women are worried about how they can express their needs without offending their partners.

How can you say that you don’t want to be touched or talked to at a particular moment without making your partner feel bad?

And for the partner, how can they work out what you need?

When a woman is deeply in her birthing space, she may well find it hard to talk and articulate what she may or may not need.

So, does the partner just have to guess?

Here are some valuable tips and tools about how to empower your birthing partner.

Before you get started...

Take a moment to watch Esther's video - The importance of the birth partner.

It doesn’t need to be that hard.

Just some preparation, your intuition and lots of love.


Things you can talk about with your birthing partner

Key to all of this is your partner feeling confident and relaxed in their role as birth partner.

If they are anxious or fearful, it will be much harder for them to communicate with you in a way that is empowering and reassuring to you.

And, the more your partner understands about your preferences and how you feel about the birth, the more prepared they’ll be to understand you.

So, ideally, your partner should be as involved as possible during pregnancy – attending prenatal classes with you, working through the birth plan together, visiting the birth place.

And, very importantly, they should be familiar with the different tools and techniques that you’ll be using.

Breathing, relaxation, hypnobirthing tools.

Your partner can join you in your practise sessions so that they can easily remind you or accompany you in one of these tools during the birth.



Intuition and observation

While tools are important and helpful, it is equally essential for the partner to be intuitive and observant.

It’s helpful to think of labour as a dance that will change as it moves along.

For example, you may find breathing together helpful for a while, but then as the surges become more intense and you have to focus more, that may become very distracting to you.

Sometimes words may be soothing, and other times you may prefer total silence. 


Non verbal cues

You’ll be giving your partner lots of non-verbal clues which communicate how you’re doing.

Long, deep breaths, swaying, closed eyes and low sounds all indicate that you are deep in your birthing space.

Whereas restlessness or voicing doubts or fears may mean that you are finding it hard to find that space.

If your partner is attentive to these signs, they’ll find it much easier to understand how to accompany you.

Plan your feedback signs

Leaving those signs aside, it’s also important that you are able to clearly express when you no longer need something or need something else.

So, talking through how you might do this before the birth is really helpful.

Your needs will keep changing and evolving, and your partner should feel no criticism when you let them know that the dance is shifting to somewhere new. 

Bear in mind that it will get more challenging for you to verbalise as labour moves along.

You may find it easier than to give feedback with a sign.

So, for example, you could agree that if you don’t want to be touched or talked to, you’ll just hold up your hand.


Avoid the word pain

Your partner also needs to be careful about how they interpret and respond to how you express what you’re feeling. Particularly if you’re vocalising or moving around (which are perfectly normal), it may seem to your partner that you’re in a lot of pain, but you may actually be doing really well with the sensations, in which case a suggestion of pain could sap your confidence and be demoralising. So, they should avoid the word pain completely, unless you want to talk about it.

The importance of being a birth partner

So, those are just a few ideas of things that you can explore with your partner to enhance your communication during labour.

And finally, the birth partner is a really important role.

The more in tune your birth partner is with you, the better support they’ll be.

For a deeper understanding of the birth partner’s role in labour, don’t forget to watch Esther’s video, The importance of the birth partner, at the top of this post.


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