DH wants to know what to do during labour to provide support. Hints, tips, do's and don'ts gratefully received!

(99 Posts)
reluctantincubator Tue 25-Nov-08 11:24:42

I am hoping for a home birth with pool. As this will be DC1, and especially if labour is prolonged, DH would like to know (as would I!) if we can benefit from the might of your combined experience in terms of what you wanted your DH or birth partner to do/say to help. We have read up a certain amount and obviously everyone is different and there is an element of "horses for courses", but but nothing beats personal experience IMHO, and any advice would be gratefully received. My Mum will also be there and at the moment I don't know how their roles might be shared, so if anyone has had a similar experience, I would love to hear about it. (also, how his role might change if I have to change plan and go into hospital) Thanks. smile

hairymcleary Tue 25-Nov-08 11:43:06

Frivilous I know, but get him to practise putting your hair up in a hairtie, if you have long hair!
I really wanted my hair out of my face, but couldn't put the hairtie in myself, as I had a massive cannula with drips etc in my hand, so DH (who has been bald since he was 18 and has no idea about hair!) had to try and tie me a ponytail... his attempt would have been hilarious, if I hadn't had been so desperate to get my matted hair out of my face! (Hopefully won't happen to you if you're having a homebirth though). I'm sure someone else will be along soon with some real advice!

MrsTittleMouse Tue 25-Nov-08 11:47:12

My DH's jobs were:
-to tell me how well I was doing
-to offer water and snacks
-to cover me up/help me remove covers as I felt alternately cold and hot
-to rub my back
-to hold the sick bowl (hope you don't need this one!)
-to hold me up in a squat to push (you might not like the water when it comes down to it)
-we also chatted a bit during contractions when I was managing them well

Things that aren't so good
-if he times the contractions in the early stages then get him to be discrete about it - I could tell immediately if a contraction was "overdue" from DH's not-so-subtle glances at his watch! I felt like a watched pot.
-make sure that he knows that the second stage could be quite prolonged, and also that he does not need to cheer you on with shouts of "PUSH!".

georgiemum Tue 25-Nov-08 11:51:24

Keep the food and drink coming
Keep you calm and relaxed
Do a little massage (back, arms, hands, face)
Keep cool flannels for forehead
Tell you how great you are doing
Talks to midwife so you don't have to
Read to you and generally keeps you amused
and most importantly, does whatever you tell him!

thenewme Tue 25-Nov-08 11:52:52

With my 3 births I went in to myself and didn't say a word to DH or even look at him while I was pushing. My advice would be to him to not get offended if you do the same.

Notquitegrownup Tue 25-Nov-08 11:54:05

Hmm - dh was wonderful. He didn't offer me any "helpful" advice or suggest that he knew what I was going through, and won lots of brownie points for that. In fact he didn't say a lot, but smiled at me and made me feel very very special.

He did count the time down, with each contraction, once they got quite bad.

Me: Here comes another one . .
Dh: Ten, nine, eight . . .

Just once he started counting up from one and that was awful as it suggested to me that the pain could go on indefinitely!! Counting down gave me something to aim for (and he was really good at counting just slowly enough (or at inserting a tiny cough) to see me through to the end of the contraction.)

We also learned some basic back massage techniques, which was looooovely. All he did was rub both hands up my spine for about twelve inches - quite firmly, starting at the base - and then slide them out and round in a circle till they got back to the beginning again. It was fantastic, though when our trainee midwife tried it, she was awful! She got the sack after one contraction! (And it definitely had to be up the spine, not down. That didn't work at all!)

Best of luck. Hope you find a few tips which help to make this a special day for you both.

PS don't forget to have food handy for dh. My contractions were strong and every five minutes from the start and he didn't have a lot of time to get food for himself before being back on hand crushing duty.

HensMum Tue 25-Nov-08 11:58:27

To know what you want and be your spokesperson. Write the birth plan together and talk about it. And talk about all possibilities and what you would want to happen i.e. if you are offered a CS.
I wanted a water birth in my local hospital's "home-like" room. I got an induction and went into intense labour very quickly. It totally shocked me and I found myself unable to communicate much so DP was essential (and great!) for asking questions, fetching people etc and making sure that nothing happened that I wasn't happy with.

And definitely make sure he can sort your hair out! Because I went into labour so quickly, I had no time to put mine up so spent the whole time with sweaty hair in my face.

notyummy Tue 25-Nov-08 11:58:34

Good suggestions already. I would add...

Make sure he knows what your wishes are, so he can speak for you if necessary (although he needs to be prepared for the fact that your wishes can, and will, change when in labour!)

Have a selection of birth balls/bean bags/cushions on hand to suggest to you to change positions

Back rubbing (using a squash ball to rub lower back can be good)

If you are using gas and air he can try and slow and steady your breathing (breath innnnnn and ouuuuuut), and prompt you to use STRAIGHT AWAY so full effects are felt when contraction reaches its peak....and then prise it from your mouth as contraction subsides! My DH was good at this.

Water/juice (with a STRAW...vital so you can drink in all sorts of positions!) to be offered regularly. Ditto snacks/energy sweets, although I couldn't touch food.

He needs food and drink as well. DH was too scared to eat in case I lost the rag with him ('You're having a cereal bar when I am suffering...damn youuuuuu!'...but actually I wouldn't have a given a flying ** or even noticed!)

Good luck.

Smittals Tue 25-Nov-08 12:00:56

as thenewme says above, I also went into myself as it was the best way to manage pain. What I didn't want was DH touching me supportively during contractions and breaking my concentration! Cue screams of 'DON'TTOUCHME' in exorcist-style tones. So make sure your DH LISTENS to what you actually want at each particular moment, not just do what he thinks you want! grin

Saz36 Tue 25-Nov-08 12:03:02

We also planned a home waterbirth so his job was pretty clear cut.
Make sandwiches and tea for midwives
get lots of hot water for pool
sort out appropriate music
give me encouragement

In the eventuality we ended up in hosp and his job then was

procure food and drinks ( lucozade is FANTASTIC at keeping your energy up if you are not allowed/don't feel like eating)
chat to the midwife
help the midwife to keep me encouraged
Hold gas and air thing
tell me how well I was doing
advocate for me to medical staff so they didn't come near me with those :@{P_ huge forceps etc etc

Whatever happens it will be an amazing, amazing time for you both - good luck.

spinspinsugar Tue 25-Nov-08 12:11:50

Sorry, this is a bit brutal, but my dh was a waste of space at ds's labour, and I asked him not to be there at dd's. In fact for me, he was a psychological hinderance because I kept clutching at the idea that he could 'help' somehow. dd's solo labour was a breeze, I simply had less people to faff with my concentration. My only regret is that he wasn't there for her delivery (he was looking after ds). Good luck, I completely understand you wanting your dh to be there for a first labour

Grammaticus Tue 25-Nov-08 12:16:22

I wanted my DH to keep tabs on what was happening - so that I didn't have to. I told him to keep an eye on the clock and ask the midwife where things were up to and how long she thought each stage was going to be, what the options were etc. I wanted him to be my advocate as my fear about birth was delayed delivery/caesarian and oxygen deprivation for the baby.

It was all fine in the end - though the 90 mins pushing first time was bloody tiring!

thenewme Tue 25-Nov-08 12:29:10

I couldn't have done it without DH and for the first 2 births the babies were taken away from me and if he hadn't been there to go with them, I would have been terrified.

Niecie Tue 25-Nov-08 12:38:36

I didn't really have a role for DH - I didn't really need him when it came to it. I didn't want to hold hands or him telling me when to push. His job was to run around and get help when needed. This was especially true with DS2 who came in a hurry - DH had to phone an ambulance and keep DS1 out of the way.

I would make sure your DH knows about your birth plan and can tell the professionals what you want when you can't speak up for yourself. On the other hand don't end up with one of those sitcom moments when you are screaming for an epidural and he is telling everybody 'Now, we agreed we wouldn't have an epidural, didn't we'. He needs to know that you have every right to change your mind on the day, depending on how you feel.

I think the best thing you can do is keep all plans fairly loose as you just don't know how you will feel, but make sure he is able to do the things you need him to do.

reluctantincubator Tue 25-Nov-08 12:48:44

These are absolutely brilliant, - I am going to get himn to read it all. Thanks so much. smile
Its funny - I would probably be considered to be a more extra than introverted person in real life, but I have no idea how that will translate in labour - whether I will be loud and shouty and want to chat, or go into myself. Its all sucha great big unknown. Useful to know to think a bit more about how to get the things that might be needed (drinks, ice, snacks etc) in hospital, if it doesn't end up happening at home. I think I have been metaphorically sticking my fingers in my ears and going "la la la I cant hear you" about the idea of having to transfer, but of course its entirely possible it will not happen at home, so I will stop with the ostrich act now. blush

notyummy Tue 25-Nov-08 12:59:00

I am mostly extravert and became quite introverted during labour. DH had expected shouting and swearing like a fishwife, when I actually became very quiet and well-mannered! (Until the final 10 minutes....but we won't go into the details just now!) grin

Dp was great during labour. The top three things that he did were:

- spotting that the gas and air canister was empty
- feeding me mars bars between contractions
- not saying anything annoying

Actually these were the only things he did, but they were perfectly done.

TheShipsCat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:00:09

DH learnt from the MW that he should only let me hold his wrists during contractions, and not touch his thumbs because apparently women in labour can break their partners' thumbs really easily and they don't repair very well smile

I have to admit, the MW was much more useful than DH...

Best of luck!

LiberalIdleOlogy Tue 25-Nov-08 13:00:59

Do stay conscious.
Do not retire to the car for a nap shortly before the transition stage.

Megglevache Tue 25-Nov-08 13:03:02

You may be very unpredictable during labour you might not want him anywhere near you. Could you let him know that in advance. I was like that with dd but with ds I was very clingy (ridiculously so)

Do you have a list of things he could be need to do. Food/drinks/toiletries/oils/towels and let him sort it all out in one place so he doesn't have to go off and find things or worse still ask you where everything is. grin A friend of mine put everything in a suitcase for her husband and had him fetching and carrying stuff form that one point.

notnowbernard Tue 25-Nov-08 13:12:23

DP was great during dd1's birth. Rubbed my back, gave me verbal encouragement (direct style, no fluff-wuffy shitgrin)

Let me pulverise grip his hand until it turned blue etc. Was generally very supportive and I don't think I would have had the straightforward delivery I had with her if he hadn't have been there smile

With dd2 I was in a different frame of mind entirely - knew what was coming, knew what I had to bear, knew what I had to do blah blah blah. He was a bit surplus in a way blush (I have told him this, btw - he wasn't offended) In fact he and the midwife irritated me with their mindless witterings re financial matters and the construction industry shock

But he was fab smile

notnowbernard Tue 25-Nov-08 13:14:00

Sorry, that was all about me blush

What I meant to say is you just don't know what you'll be like in labour (as Meggleveche said). So prepare him for that. But a good back-rubbing technique is a must!

Yes - these are brilliant. Keep em coming!

Am c+p'ing them as they appear into a 'mumsnet tips for birth partners' sheet to pass on to first time parents attending my antenatal classes.

I bluddy love mumsnet. grin

Rindercella Tue 25-Nov-08 13:22:18

Would suggest that he gives you his forearm to squeee rather than his hand. I nearly broke poor DH's hand by squeezing it and the midwife wisely suggested that I use his forearm instead! Tell your DH that it really helps to hear "you're doing fantastically", "I'm so proud of you", etc.

dilbertina Tue 25-Nov-08 13:32:57

In addition to all the great advice you've already had...Tell him NOT to:

Put sick bowl (empty) on your head and take photos because it looks a bit like a bowler hat. And is hilariously funny. Not.

Whine about being hungry, and then after baby's arrival whine about being a bit tired.
This is even more frustrating if midwives scurry off to make him tea & toast and won't let you have any.

Video any part of you that you would not normally wish to be photographed. And incidentally do not do a bit of video every few minutes that starts by focussing on his watch whilst he says the time - not only is this quite annoying after the first 6 times it also makes the resulting "highlights" video pretty tedious.

Steal the gas & air to "Have a go" when midwife not in room.

So, if he avoids all that it'll be fine! Really though, he loves you, his biggest problem will be feeling he can't really DO anything very much. Good luck with the birth!

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