Emotional support is critical for ladies giving birth. If self-doubt or anxiety invades her mind, a woman's labor can be interrupted. Providing this emotional support is one of the primary roles of the birth companion.
If the mother experiences self-doubt, it will show on her face. Look for clues that her focus is waning, such as a clenched jaw or wrinkled brow. If these signs are present, gently remind her how well she is doing and how far she's come. Try some light massage or new birthing positions. Be proactive - don't wait for her to ask for support. These gentle reminders may be enough to get her back on track.
Take your cues from her emotional state. Is she happy, quick to smile and anxious excited or is she quiet and introspective? Adjust your emotional tone to complement hers. If she has entered a period of quiet seriousness, focus on relaxation now. It could be a sign that labor has become more intense and she is at risk of losing her focus by unwanted distractions, be it hospital staff or simple environmental triggers.
One of the most effective sources of emotional support for ladies giving birth can be enlisting the aid of a doula. She has the skills and birthing experience to accurately read a laboring woman's signals and suggest appropriate courses of action, such as changing birth positions to breathing techniques. Many women fear their husbands will feel displaced by the presence of a doula. However, the doula is not intended to replace him, but to share his load. She can fetch cold beverages for both parents or give the father a chance to check on other siblings. Her presence can actually reduce his anxiety as well knowing that another skilled, objective voice will be there should complications arise.
If ladies giving birth start to experience self-doubt, to which they are most susceptible during transition, this is the time to give them support, positive encouragement and confidence. Women are most vulnerable at this stage and can be manipulated into unwanted and unneeded interventions. The mother is often unable to voice her requests or needs and will unwittingly follow another's lead. It is now that she may feel or say she can't do this. Make it your mission to remind her that not only can she birth her baby, but that she is birthing it. Remind her that she's almost there. Focus her attention on the baby, on the fact that she will hold her child very soon. This is an emotional time where she may require counter pressure or rhythmic movements. Nausea may also strike, so keep her breathing even and deep through the contractions to limit this sensation. It's important to remember that this is typically the shortest stage of labor, although the most intense.
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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE
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