One of the best ways to be an effective labor coach is to get educated about child birth. Attend childbirth classes with her during labor. Make an effort to be there for every class. You will gain valuable information about labor during these classes. You will learn a variety of techniques to help her manage the pain of labor. It’s important to practice these techniques between sessions and up to the day of the birth.
by Patricia Hughes
As the labor coach, you have an important role on the big day. You need to be there to support her during labor. Learn as much as possible about labor and child birth to be the most effective coach you can be. It’s hard to say just what she will need during labor. Realize that all women are different and be prepared to meet her needs. These needs may change many times throughout the process.
Learn About Labor
The best way to be an effective labor coach is to get educated about child birth. Attend childbirth classes with her during labor. Make an effort to be there for every class. You will gain valuable information about labor during these classes. You will learn a variety of techniques to help her manage the pain of labor. It’s important to practice these techniques between sessions and up to the day of the birth.
There are many other ways to learn about labor and [tag-tec]childbirth[/tag-tec]. Read a few books on natural child birth. Watch videos of birth to help you know what to expect. If you educate yourself and learn about the birth process, you will be a more effective coach. The more you know about birth and the common procedures, the better prepared you will be to support her and communicate with the staff. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
Discuss Her Expectations
Spend some time talking with her about her expectations for the birth of the baby. Find out what she wants in her birth experience. Write a birth plan together. This is a good way to learn about the common procedures that are part of childbirth. It’s important for you to become familiar with her birth plan. It will be your job to communicate with the staff and advocate for her. This will be easier to do if you are familiar with the plan and take part in writing it.
It’s important to realize that labor takes time. For the first time mother, this can vary from ten to twenty hours or more. On television, the women run to the hospital at the first contraction and give birth a short time later. This just doesn’t happen in real life. In reality, it may be all day or night. Most women spend the early part of labor at home, which can be several hours before leaving for the hospital.
If she gets angry or snaps at you, try not to get upset. She doesn’t mean it. [tag-self]Labor[/tag-self] is difficult and each woman reacts in a different way. Some women go inside themselves and prefer quiet. Others may get irritable at some point and may even yell at you. Don’t take it to heart.
Your main job is to be there for her and support her during labor. Use all the relaxation and breathing techniques learned in your birthing class. You should have practiced these prior to the birth. If she starts to lose control, help her regain her focus. Suggest changing positions, breathing, massage and using music to help her relax. If she is using relaxation techniques, watch her for signs of tension and remind her to relax those areas. Reassure her and comfort her.
Try to be flexible. Realize that things don’t always go according to plan. It’s tough to know what will work with a first labor. She may think she will want a massage for the pain, but may not want you to touch her. In early labor she may want a massage, and then decide she hates it later. This may change many times during the course of the labor, trust me. Just go with the flow and follow her cues.
One of your most important jobs will be to time her [tag-ice]contractions[/tag-ice]. For this, you will need a watch with a second hand. Don’t start timing with the very first contraction. This can just get stressful. Wait until labor is definitely underway to start timing. Contractions are timed from the start of one to the start of the next. For example, if one contraction starts at 5:10 and the next at 5:15, the contractions are five minutes apart. Watch the second hand to time the duration of each contraction. Keep a written record of the contractions for the doctor or midwife.
Communicate with Staff
One of your important responsibilities will be to communicate with the hospital staff. You will need to get updates on her progress and convey her wishes. It will be your job to keep track of her birth plan and try to keep everything going according to her plan. There are some times when this may not be possible, due to a complication, but do your best. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about her labor or medical procedures. She won’t be in any condition to advocate for herself, so do it for her.
You will likely be spending quite a bit of time at the hospital or birthing center, so come prepared. Pack a bag with anything you may need during your time there. Some things to bring include: snacks and drinks, a change of clothes, change for the phone or a cell phone, a camera with film and batteries, a toothbrush and deodorant. Include a bathing suit in case she gets in the water and wants you there with her.
Biography Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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