How to be a great birthing partner

You want to be there to support her but how can you be a great birthing partner? Here are some tips: 

Be organised

Pack the hospital bags together so that you know where everything is when she needs something. It can be stressful if you can’t find something she needs. Make sure there is always enough petrol in the car, you know the route to the hospital and where to park. Have money for parking. Limit alcohol from 37 weeks of pregnancy so that you are safe to drive or be ready to order a taxi.

Organise any music if needed and make sure devices are fully charged. Arrange the care of other children and pets. On the day pack plenty of food and drink for both of you. You may want to arrange to have a relative or friend to support you both either at the birth or on the end of the phone.

Be ready

Make sure you are local if possible and can be contacted at all times. If you normally work away from home try to arrange less travel near the due date. Remember, you don’t make the decision to go to hospital on your own. Call the midwife at the hospital and she will advise you what to do. She will want to talk to your partner to see how she is coping.

Be open-minded

Labour and birth can be very unpredictable so be prepared to just go with the flow. Labour can last many hours but can also be shorter or longer than you expect.  Go to antenatal classes if you can and read about labour and birth so that when you need to make decisions along the way you already have the information. Never be afraid to ask questions.

Agree in advance what she would like you to do (and NOT do) during the labour. Go through the birth preferences with her so that you are clear about the things that are important to both of you. Be prepared to communicate those to the midwife.

Encourage her

Encourage her to breathe through her contractions by breathing with her.  Use a calm, quiet voice. Give lots of reassurance.  Don’t take anything personally if she says or does something out of character. If you are not sure what to say or do just reassure her by holding her hand and being close.

If she has backache, massage the lower part of her back. She will tell you the right spot. Help her to try different positions such as sitting on a birthing ball and sit behind or next to her for support. Offer snacks and drinks regularly if it’s ok for her to eat and drink.

Look after yourself

Wear comfortable clothes in layers and take items for you such as a change of T shirt and a toothbrush. Pack plenty of snacks and drinks and take some painkillers for you in case you need them. Remember your phone charger, money and something to read if she is resting. Take breaks if you need to.

Enjoy the moment

Enjoy that precious moment when the baby finally arrives. You might want to cut the umbilical cord but you can see how you feel at the time. Some partners are so concerned about phoning family and friends that they rush off as soon as the baby is born. She still needs you after the birth and you can help with skin-to-skin with your baby. A T shirt or shirt with buttons down the front is ideal for this.

For information about BirthPrep Antenatal Classes click here.

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How you will know if breastfeeding is going well

Many parents worry about whether their baby is getting enough milk while breastfeeding because they can’t see how much their baby is taking. The Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative has produced a useful guide to help parents:

Breastfeeding is going well if:

  • Your baby has 8 feeds or more in 24 hours.
  • Your baby is feeding for between 5 and 30 minutes at each feed.
  • Breastfeeding is comfortable.
  • Your baby is calm and relaxed during and after feeding.
  • Your baby rhymically take long sucks and swallows from 3 to 4 days old and beyond (it is normal for your baby to pause from time to time).
  • Your baby has wet and dirty nappies – see the guide below. Continue reading »
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What to eat and drink when breastfeeding

This is a common question in antenatal classes. You have been dreaming of having pate, cheese and wine again but are these still forbidden when you are breastfeeding?

The good news is that you can eat and drink anything you like while breastfeeding – everything in moderation. You can have the occasional glass of wine or cup of coffee. However, there are some foods that may affect your baby making them ‘windy’ or unsettled. Everyone’s experience Continue reading »

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More antenatal class feedback

We really appreciate the time people spend filling in evaluation forms at the end of the classes and I thought I would share some of the latest feedback.

Which aspect of the course did you find most useful?

‘Explanation of the birth process, the early days following birth. The exercises encouraged participation. People are told a lot of things about childbirth. It was really helpful just to be able to talk and ask questions’.

‘Pain relief and the effects. Caring for a newborn’.

‘The whole content of the course was very useful’.

‘The open forum to be able to ask any questions’. Continue reading »

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What to pack in your hospital bag

Trying to decide what to take with you for your hospital birth? It’s a good idea to have a bag packed by 37 weeks even if you are not planning a hospital birth in case you need to go in unexpectedly. Some people use one bag for everything and others pack one bag for mum and one for baby. It really doesn’t matter. It all depends on the bags you have available.

Here is our essentials list: Continue reading »

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Waterbirth in Leeds

We have had many water babies born to BirthPrep parents over the last couple of years and some have enjoyed the new pool at Leeds General Infirmary. Until now the LGI has been the only place to go for a waterbirth in Leeds but now St. James’s Hospital is installing a pool. Work has started and it is expected that it will be finished and available to use by the end of April this year.

It’s always a good idea to find out as much information in advance. Even if you don’t want to give birth in the pool the water is great for pain relief.

In Leeds there is a Waterbirth Class held at St James’s Hospital in the Bexley Wing on the first Wednesday of the month from 7.30 pm. to 9.30 pm. There is no need to book. I know that several of our parents have been and found it really useful.

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Is it safe to swaddle my baby?

We  highlighted concerns last year about the growing number of swaddling wraps and blankets currently available for sale on the internet ( some even made of merino wool) leading parents to believe that it is ok to swaddle their baby.

The Royal College of Midwives has now also voiced concerns about the growing trend in swaddling. Sue Macdonald education and research manager at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It is an issue that such a seemingly innocuous thing can lead to significant problems for the baby.  There are concerns about the growing use of  swaddling because of the possibility of overheating the baby, and the increased risk of cot death.  Also, as this research suggests, swaddling, and especially tight swaddling, may also affect the baby’s natural posture.

“Normally a  baby will lie with the hips flexed, and swaddling may reduce the degree to which the baby can keep this natural position.  We advise parents to avoid swaddling,  but it is also crucial Continue reading »

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Children’s Heart Surgery in Leeds to Close

An official review recently concluded that Leeds General Infirmary should stop children’s heart surgery so care could be concentrated at fewer, larger sites to improve standards. Families in Yorkshire and the Humber region will instead have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for surgery. This has huge consequences for newborns and pregnant mums who would have to travel to Newcastle to have their babies.

The Guardian highlights the fact that the children’s heart unit Continue reading »

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5000 more midwives needed – sign the RCM e-Petition

Births are higher now than they were a decade ago in every part of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Put simply, we are in a baby boom.

England has seen the sharpest rise. In 2001, around 563,000 babies were born in England. In 2010, it was 687,000. That is a rise equivalent to an extra 10,000 babies born every month. It is not expected to stop there. Provisional figures for January-September 2011 point to a continued rise. And it won’t stop there either. The Office for National Statistics expect the number of babies born in England to reach 723,000 by the middle of this decade.

More midwives are needed and The Royal College of Midwives has launched a campaign and a government e-petition for 5000 more midwives. There are over 47,000 signatures so far but 100,000 signatures are needed to trigger a debate in Parliament.  Have  a look at the RCM video and click on the video to be directed to the e-petition.

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Positions for Labour and Birth


As part of their Campaign for Normal Birth the Royal College of Midwives has created a series of video clips to demonstrate positions that can be used for labour and birth. They show both the birth centre and hospital environment. You can see how the birthing/gym ball is used in labour.

If you would like to find out about BirthPrep antenatal classes click here

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