Childbirth is an incredibly painful experience, and one that a labouring woman’s partner can usually do little or nothing to help with.
Unless, that is, they know how to use hypnobirthing.
Hypnobirthing is a pain management method that uses techniques including visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing, to help mothers during labour. And dads are slowly realising that becoming familiar with the techniques could help them make a real difference to their partner’s childbirth pain, and thus the whole birthing experience.
For that reason, the dads’ parenting website DaddiLife (daddilife.com) has published what it says is the first-ever hypnobirthing guide for dads, A Positive Birth, The Dad’s Guide to Hypnobirthing, to help fathers become actively involved in labour.
“So much has changed about the way modern dads parent, with more dads taking an active role in day-to-day parenting,” says Han-Son Lee, founder of DaddiLife. “But there’s still one area where dads take on a passive role – the delivery room.
“Hypnobirthing has been a revelation for many mums to understand the science of their bodies and how to feel more in control of their birth. Dads often aren’t aware of just how important their role is during hypnobirthing,”
Lee describes hypnobirthing as the physiology and psychology of birth, or the mental practices and practical applications used to help make the birth experience better, and stresses: “Birth can be an anxious time for a lot of dads, and helping them see an alternative way that birth can be, as well as giving them a specific toolkit, I hope can start to create more positive birth stories.
“Hypnobirthing is your path to a positive birth and your guide to becoming a better birth partner. By learning and incorporating the science of hypnobirthing, and by implementing visualisations, affirmations, relaxations, and deep-breathing exercises, you and your partner can work as a team to help focus the mother’s mind, and in turn their body, on birth.”
Lee says hypnobirthing techniques include…
Encouraging oxytocin production for your partner
The guide explains that the feel-good hormone oxytocin is essential during labour to encourage its progression, but when your partner doesn’t feel good, that production can grind to a halt. To help make her feel good, make sure there are diffusers containing essential oils at the birth location (if staff approve); battery-powered twinkling lights and candles; photos of loved ones or favourite pets; comfort items like a favourite pillow or blanket; a portable speaker to listen to music; headphones for your partner to listen to relaxation scripts; and a battery-powered fan.
Helping her relax
Provide comfort to support your partner in the initial stages, by encouraging steady breathing patterns; go on a walk together; run a bath or a warm shower for them; use diffuser oils; get them water and food; give them a massage; play some relaxing music; help them to change labour positions.
Take over the counting
Once labour is happening, be clear on the birth plan you’ve both agreed on and measure contractions, so your partner can concentrate on being ‘in the zone’.
Maintain up-breathing – this is taking a slow breath in through the nose and a long, slow breath out through the mouth. It’s during this slow breath out that oxytocin is produced.
Make sure your partner feels in the zone and focused, by ensuring the atmosphere for birth stays just right; you and your partner are fed and hydrated; you remind her about breathing techniques; and set anchors by using pictures, music, smells and words to evoke memories.
Maintain positivity and support
Be supportive at the ‘I can’t do this any more’ moments, and be ready to advocate for additional support/medication if needed. Expressing things to care providers when wanted, trusting her knowledge of her body, and communicating it.
Continuity of care
One the birth has taken place, ask yourself what help do mum and baby need? Would she like a shower, and can she feasibly manage to wash and use the toilet? It can be important to ask for help at this stage if it’s needed. It’s likely they’ll need the room back very soon, so being clear on how you want to use the time is important.
A Positive Birth: The Dad’s Guide to Hypnobirthing is published by Daddilife Books, priced £12.99. Available now