Ages ago, I wrote a blog post on the 4 P’s of Birth. While explaining this concept in my most recent Confident Birthing class; one of the dads, piped up “Hey, what about the most important “P”? – Partner!” I have to say, I love him for this. He’s right, ladies.
Our partners do more for us during birth than do our doctors, midwives or doulas. Our partners know us better than anyone else. They love us more than anyone else. They know how we like to be touched, and how we need to be touched. They know how to make us laugh. They know when to be quiet and when to speak up. We trust our partners more than the other people in this world, and they trust us.
The quiet strength of a partner who believes in us is a key factor to having a good birth experience. A partner who can say, with all sincerity, “I’m proud of you”, means more than an atta-boy from our care providers.
What about those women who birth without a life partner? They don’t lack in this fifth “P” of birth. They have mothers, sisters, friends and other family. For most of us, there is someone in our lives who can fill this role admirably.
Good labor support isn’t about knowing what position a laboring mom needs to use or how to best massage her back.
Good labor support is about being present and paying attention to the laboring mom.
Being present – look at her; watch her body language; listen to the sounds she makes; gaze upon her face and see, really see, how she is doing.
Then, dear partners, trust your instinct. Touch her, or not, speak to her, or not. Just be with her. Show her with your presence that you are calm, steady and ready to help, if she needs to you.
Have faith – Faith in her ability and faith in the baby.
Birth is one of the most challenging things a partner can bear witness to. Witnessing and supporting a laboring mother will test our strength and our will. It will take us to the depths of despair and to the pinnacle of joy. Birth transforms partners as much as it transforms a woman into a mother.
Bearing witness to birth, especially to the birth of one’s own child, will take you to a new place. It will expand your soul and open your mind. Be present with birth. Birth is transformative, and you will come out stronger for it.