Have you ever heard of the love hormone?
Betcha have...it's better known as oxytocin, and it's a HUGE part of labor, since it's what nudges the uterus into contraction mode. Oxytocin levels are also really high while breastfeeding (which helps the uterus shrink back to pre-baby size) and during orgasm-inducing sex (which, some studies suggest, helps all those little spermies reach your egg to fertilize it if you're trying to conceive).
It's like my childbirth ed teacher said: The love that got the baby in will help get the baby out ;)
So how can you get those love hormones swilling around to help you while you're birthing your babe? Have the support of a loving birth partner.
Justin Baldoni + Jeffrey Zurofsky (aka the husbands of AMMA) discuss what it takes to be a supportive and loving birth partner, how to prepare, and some tricks and tips for supporting a mama during labor and beyond.
- Evidence Based Birth™ is currently offering their childbirth classes virtually, as well as offering a free YouTube birth class specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional resources, including their podcast, are also available.
- Dr. Aviva Romm created a Facebook support group for her #ideservebirthsupport movement, and hosts free childbirth classes for members of the group via Zoom.
- The Birth Hour has a very comprehensive “Know Your Options” childbirth course available online...it isn’t free but it comes with a bunch of free supplementary downloads as well as a 30-day money back guarantee.
- Taught by a certified childbirth educator and labor doula, the Powerful Mamas online natural childbirth class is a lower-cost option that emphasizes informed consent and empowered birth.
Ways for birth partners to be of service
- Give a little extra love and attention to mama, especially right now when so much is changing...make meals, bring her tea, sit up with her at night when she’s uncomfortable or needs to talk. Find joy together in preparing to welcome your new tiny human into your life and your home!
- Listen. Be Present. Actively prepare for birth (check out the above resources for some great classes you can take together online). Partner support improves birth outcomes, so start early!
- Perineal massage can be a really lovely and intimate way to connect with mama while also helping her physically prepare for labor.
Labor and birth:
- Labor Positions
- There are lots of partner-supported options for active labor and birthing positions; you can even practice these ahead of time with mama! For visual reference you can pay to download the labor positions PDF here and bring it with you to the birth, or just Google images for “physiologic labor positions”
- Partner Touch
- Massage or other laying-on of hands is wonderful pain relief and helps release oxytocin (which facilitates productive labor)...check in with mama to make sure she enjoys being touched in this way, since everyone is different with their preferences. You can also try a hip squeeze or other counterpressure techniques (a virtual doula can help you with these).
- Check out some valuable information on informed consent at the bottom of this post; you can also download the Birth Monopoly parents’ rights packet for an easy-to-reference resource while you are in the delivery room
- Memorize “The Magic Question” for when a doctor recommends a medical intervention at a hospital birth: “Is this a medical emergency now?” Most likely the answer is no, and you and mama can ask for a moment to make a decision (this is a great time to reach out to a virtual doula or check out evidencebasedbirth.com to try and get some answers if you aren’t sure about your options.
Birth Partner Pro-Tip → Hire a labor doula! She may not be able to be physically present at the birth, but she can meet with you and mama beforehand and address questions/concerns and help you prepare, and many doulas will also provide virtual informational/emotional/physical support via text, phone, or video chat.
A note about informed consent
American law and medical ethics supports your right to informed consent. That means your practitioner has explained:
- The nature of the proposed treatment
- The risk/benefits/uncertainties of the treatment
- Reasonable alternatives to the treatment
- The material risks/benefits/uncertainties related to each alternative
- Answers to any additional questions you have
You have the right to refuse care, change your mind and elect to proceed with care later, and revoke your consent to proceed.
An emergency does not supersede the informed consent requirements, unless you are unconscious or otherwise unable to give consent.
For more information, see the post by Julie Cantor, UCLA Law Faculty and Reproductive Rights Expert on Needed's blog.