A Bradley Method class inspires confidence in a woman’s ability to give birth. Many times, couples find a deeper connection with each other and with their baby. There is hands-on practice weekly, during which we practice relaxation techniques, and learn positions, and comfort measures. It’s an amazing thing to empower the laboring woman’s partner/birth coach. Coaches learn how to support and encourage the laboring woman. And the laboring woman relies on her coach. They learn to trust each other and take an active role in the birth of the baby. After finishing a Bradley Method® class, both the mother and her coach feel increased confidence and trust in the process of labor and birth.
“I loved learning about the birthing process from pregnancy to postpartum. It was fascinating and inspiring to learn and see what a woman’s body can do. Liza made it fun and engaging and it never felt like 2.5 hours of Zoom time. I loved taking the time each week to come together as a couple to learn how to give birth to our baby. The homework and review during class was helpful. I loved all the games.”
Understanding what labor and birth are all about is a great advantage, but being there with love and understanding is mainly what labor coaching is all about. Most of the time, the coach’s support and concern are appreciated throughout labor. Sometimes, just the very presence of the coach can increase the laboring woman’s confidence in herself. Usually, a woman will let you know that she is helped by your suggestions and encouragement. Don’t be discouraged however if she doesn’t give you feedback. She will later.
THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO COACH A LABORING WOMAN
Each coach and each laboring woman are different, as are their labors. Some women are self-sufficient, and some are very dependent. One will want to be stroked, massaged, and guided throughout labor. Others will want minimal touch and little talk. Others will want something in between.
ENCOURAGE, PRAISE, REASSURE
It’s important to set the tone whether you are at home or at your birthplace. Positivity is key. Coaches cannot encourage, praise, or reassure the laboring woman too much. If the medical staff comes into the room, say something like ”She’s doing great!” or “ Everything is going well.” Laboring moms love to hear you compliment them. It uplifts them and inspires them. It will give them the energy to keep working hard.
SIMPLE GUIDELINES FOR COACHES
- During pregnancy, commit to practicing the relaxation techniques, the positions, and the comfort measures you learned in your childbirth class. Relaxation is a learned response and it takes practice to master it.
- If you think she’s in labor, first get her to eat and drink, then take a walk, bath/shower, and rest/sleep. Getting lots of rest in early labor will give you both energy you’ll need when labor gets challenging.
- If you think it’s time to leave for your birthplace or she thinks she wants medication, get her in the bath or shower first. She’ll calm down and relax. SEE MY POST ON WHEN TO LEAVE FOR YOUR BIRTHPLACE
- Make sure the lights are low or the room is dark. Maybe an electric candle is all you need for ambiance.
- Aromatherapy or essential oils can help her relax. SEE MY POST ON WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
- Plan ahead with a playlist of music that she finds soothing or relaxing.
- Remind her to breathe and maybe guide her breathing. Breathe with her.
- Do whatever you can to make her physically comfortable. Cool her off if she’s hot. Warm her up if she’s cold. Adjust her pillows. Help her change positions.
- Keep her blood sugar up by giving her light snacks.
- Have her drink 8 oz of fluid every hour and make sure she urinates once every hour. Keep her hydrated and keep her bladder empty.
- Have her change positions every 30 minutes. The more she moves the faster labor will go.
- Do whatever you can so she feels safe and protected. Create a “protective bubble” around her with your support and encouragement.
OFFER SUGGESTIONS AND DON’T TAKE ANYTHING SHE SAYS OR DOES PERSONALLY
Once she gets into hard labor or transition, labor gets really challenging. Everyone may experience a loss of control, especially during transition. Remember that it’s normal and nothing needs fixing. Help her regain her composure. Look her in the eye and tell her she’s got this. Recognize and confirm how hard she’s working. Tell her how amazing and strong she is. Talk about the baby. Remind her for whom she’s doing all this hard work.
Transition is the hardest part of labor but it’s also the shortest and most productive. Remind her that this is just a short time overall and remind her how well she has done so far. Look her in the eye, gently hold her shoulders and remind her to go back to her breath.
In the early part of labor, it’s important for both mom and her coach to get as much rest as possible. You never know how long the labor will be. Sleeping and resting are important because fatigue can have a negative effect on the labor and your outlook, attitude, and your ability to help her.
Once rest and sleep are no longer possible, try walking around, changing positions often, sitting upright, bathing, eating, writing thank you notes, addressing birth announcement envelopes, baking cookies, working on your photo album, and watching a movie. Think of a project to distract.
Eat and drink, easily digested foods SEE MY POST ON WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK IN LABOR
When contractions get stronger, rub her back, give sips of water or juice, always praise her, and reassure her how well she is doing. Keep on hand chapstick, lollipops, popsicles, honey, peppermint oil, aromatherapy oils, pillows, socks, music, hot water bottle, and massage oil.
And, finally, remember, just being there physically will be such emotional reassurance for her.