LABOR SUPPORT TECHNIQUES
Compiled By Andrea Eastman, MA, CCE, IBCLC
EFFECTIVE LABOR SUPPORT
Be there and share the experience. Guide her through imagery. Be aware of signs of tension. Massage her. Blanket her with love. Bear in mind that labor is a sexual event. Ask for feedback (between contractions). Encourage her to surrender. Encourage her to express herself freely. Do not insist that she breathe a certain way (unless she finds it helpful). Forget the clock. Help her take a warm shower or bath. Apply facecloths soaked in very warm water (or rice socks) to the area of discomfort. If she panics - have her lower her voice and groan, have her breathe with you to calm her down. Be with her if she has a cesarean.
TECHNIQUES FOR PRE-LABOR
Realize that a long pre-labor is not a medical problem in itself. Recognize pre-labor for what it is. Check with your birth attendant for advice and reassurance. Try distracting activities during the day. Help her rest or sleep at night, or nap during the day. Suggest a bath, or a long shower. Give her a massage to help her relax. SLEEP or at least rest!!!!! Try things to help stimulate labor.
TECHNIQUES FOR EARLY FIRST STAGE LABOR
Remain close by. Time the contractions. Help her pass the time with pleasant and distracting activities. Discuss whether you should leave for work.
- Are you readily accessible?
- How far do you have to travel?
When she becomes preoccupied with contractions:
- Continue to time them.
- Give her your undivided attention throughout each contraction.
- watch her during contractions and help her relax.
TECHNIQUES FOR ACTIVE LABOR
Be sure the staff is aware of your birth plan. Follow her lead. Give her your undivided attention. Develop "rituals" of comforting actions, to be repeated during every contraction.
LABOR SUPPORT TECHNIQUES FOR TRANSITION
Stay calm. Your touch should be firm and consistent. Your voice should remain calm and encouraging. Stay close to her with your face near hers.
TAKE CHARGE ROUTINE
Remain calm. Stay close. Anchor her - hold her tightly. Make eye contact. Change the way you handle contractions. Encourage her every breath. Talk to her between contractions. Repeat yourself. Do not give up. Ask for help and reassurance from someone else.
MORE TRANSITION LABOR TIPS
Remind her about the baby. Remind her that this difficult phase (transition) is short, and that she is almost at the birthing stage. Remind her that it is normal for transition to be difficult, and that her mood will improve when her cervix is fully dilated. Be sure the birth attendant know if she has an urge to push. Help her avoid pushing if she is not dilated fully. Movement and position changes. Counterpressure. Bath or shower. Heat or cold. Touch or massage. Relaxation.
LABOR SUPPORT - SECOND STAGE (PUSHING PHASE)
Be patient during the resting phase. Ask the birth attendant to wait for the pushing urge to come. Match the mother's mood. Stay close to the mother, where she can see, feel, and hear you. Compliment her on how well she is doing with each contraction. Stay calm. Remind her to relax her perineum - let go, open up, down and out - her anus will bulge if the perineum is relaxed, if she is tense it will remain tight. Remind her the baby is almost here. Suggest different positions if the progress is slow. Remind her to listen to her body. Remind her to look in a mirror and touch the baby's head. Do not get so caught up in the birth that you forget about the mother. Cut the cord if you want to. Enjoy the baby and encourage the mother to do the same. Make sure the baby stays warm on Mom's chest. Hold the baby, and ENJOY!
These ideas are from the following excellent books:
Mind Over Labor - by Carl Jones, New York: Viking/Penguin, 1986
The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman Through Childbirth - by Penny Simkin, P.T., Harvard and Boston, MA: The Harvard Common Press, 1989.
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide - by Penny Simkin, P.T., NY: Meadowbrook Press, 1991.
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