Giving birth can be a scary time even when you have a full support team in place. During the nationwide lockdown, your doula is not considered an essential service and may not be able to be there in person to help you through the labour and birth process. Some doulas might still be able to help you using an online tool such as Zoom or WhatsApp video but in case they can’t, doula Chrissie Smith-Schuler shares a few tips on how your partner can prepare to step in when needed.
In early labour
- Encourage your partner to rest and snack. If she can sleep then encourage this.
- Dad should also try to get some rest.
- Allow mom to eat a full meal if she can.
- Make sure dad eats as well.
- If the contractions are getting more intense encourage mom to bath and take two paracetamols.
- You can also massage mom’s lower back and shoulders.
- Watch a movie or cook if it’s during the day. Any distractions are good.
When to go to the hospital
A good rule of thumb about going to a hospital is the 611 rule: contractions are 6 minutes apart lasting about 1 minute and have been consistent for about 1 hour. Download a contraction timer before labour starts.
As labour progresses
- Breathe with her during her contractions to help to take her mind off of them. Slow breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Mom should have sips of water and try to snack on something. Even a bite of something will help. Have an energy drink available for if she or you become tired.
- During contractions, apply pressure to mom’s hips and lower back.
- Play relaxing music in the background if she wants.
- Turn lights down or off. It will make her feel safer.
- If mom is not coping, change positions and try walking. Lying down will be more painful.
- Try not to talk while Mom is having contractions as she needs to focus. Don’t ask questions during contractions.
“A good rule of thumb about going to a hospital is the 611 rule: contractions are 6 minutes apart lasting about 1 minute and have been consistent for about 1 hour.”
- Download birth affirmations to read to her or that can be said over your phone.
- Refocus mom if she starts to panic. Remind her that she can do this. Love her.
- Know that mom has to get to 10 centimetres, so keep encouraging her.
- Keep mom active. Moving around will help with the contractions. Dance with her or let her lean on you and sway side to side.
- Talk for her to her healthcare provider if you see she can’t.
- Try not to say negative things. Keep encouraging her.
- Have a heat pack for her back and cool facecloth to wipe her face. Ask the hospital for ice for her to suck on.
- Keep doing what’s working.
- Stay close to her and keep encouraging her.
- If she begins to panic, breathe slowly with her.
- Keep reheating the heat pack if it’s helping.
- Keep moving.
- Keep loving and encouraging her. Tell her how proud you are.
- Try to make sure she is comfortable.
- She may become hot, so have a fan ready and ice water for her to drink.
- Have a cool facecloth for her face to wipe it off.
- Encourage her. She should only push during contractions.
- Don’t talk during her contractions.
- Offer her water or an energy drink between contractions.
- Hold her hand.
Other things to note
- Please take lots of snacks for both of you. Good snacks to have are dried fruit, energy bars, biltong, water, chips, jelly beans, date balls or anything that mom feels like. Have a bag full. Whatever you don’t eat in labour you can eat after.
- Make playlists of music and have a selection as some may irritate mom.
- Make a family WhatsApp group so you can keep family updated after the birth of your baby.
- Some pharmacies may be closed during this time so make sure you have packed ahead of time what you will need for both mom and baby.
- Communicate with the staff what your partner is feeling. They will be busy with other people as well.
- Make sure your bags are packed from 36 weeks and know the route to the hospital (practise it is necessary).