As I near my due date, one of the things I often try to research and prepare for as best as I can is the birth experience. I go between feeling incredibly excited about finally meeting my baby and horribly anxious for the looming pain of an unfamiliar experience.
One of the best decisions I ever made, however, was to sign up for Lamaze classes which have genuinely helped ease a lot of my nerves.
It’s also a major bonus point that my teacher happens to be one of the sweetest, calmest human beings you could hope to have preparing you for the most daunting experience of your life!
Importance of Lamaze classes
After expressing to my doctor that I was really nervous about giving birth, she suggested going for Lamaze classes which would help calm my nerves. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, this is a class meant to help a mother understand how to deal with giving birth and prepare for the journey ahead. It ultimately helps boost her confidence.
At first I wasn’t sure how true that was until I met Sister Leah Wambugu, a midwife of 13 years who’s currently based at The Nairobi Hospital, and happens to be an absolute gem!
Over a period of five weeks, she took us through classes that prepared us for the journey ahead.
One of the lessons that stuck with me the most was when she shared the role of a birth partner and how important they are to a laboring woman.
5 Ways to be the perfect birth partner
You may not be the one giving birth to this baby but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an important role. Here’s how you can be of help during this momentous journey.
- Use your hands. When you offer support to someone you truly care about, you’re most likely to use your hands to communicate this, and this is especially important during labour. Offering to rub a woman’s back could really help relieve some level of pain or at the very least, help reinforce the fact that you’re there to support them. Your hands may also come in handy when she wants to squeeze the life out of it so come prepared to lose some level of feeling!
- Keep walking. Not to be confused by Johnnie Walker, reminding the woman to keep walking in between her contractions (when possible) is a great tip! Essentially, you want to help the baby move further down into position so that the delivery process can be as quick as possible. So encourage your wife to take as many steps as she can while she’s still able to move around.
- Be the timekeeper. According to Sister Wambugu, this is one of your most important tasks, as it requires you to be very alert of how quick her contractions are progressing. You need to know how far apart each contraction is and how long each one lasts and communicate this effectively to the doctor. If and when her water breaks, you also need to note the time, especially if there was no nurse around. Having an understanding of time in relation to her labour can help you identify – to some extent – which stage she’s in.
- Communicate. Words like “I’m so proud of you” or “You’re a star” and “Do you need anything? Because I’m here for you” would make any woman feel encouraged, let alone a laboring one. For that reason, make sure you constantly speak encouraging words to her and no matter what, do not focus on what she may be doing wrong. Instead, find a positive way of highlighting what she should be doing to help ease her labour. It’s also important to encourage her to communicate what she’s feeling, especially if she’s in the third stage of labour and starts to have the urge of bearing down.
- The toilet is your friend. Surprise, surprise! If you didn’t know, encouraging your partner to use the bathroom is a great tip to move the labour along as much as possible. By squatting as she prepares to sit on the toilet, she allows her pelvic region to widen giving the baby room to move further down. It’s also important – particularly in the first and second stage of labour – that she empties her bladder and rectum as much as possible so that it provides the baby with even more room to move down. Finally, it helps make the delivery process a little less messy, if you know what I mean! But be weary of her saying she wants to go to the bathroom, especially when she’s 8-10cm dilated. It could be that she’s ready to start pushing the baby out!
So, to the fathers-to-be, soon-to-be-grandmothers or best friends who will have the honour of taking a laboring woman through her journey, I hope Sister Wambugu’s tips will help you out!