Partner's role during a hypnobirth
Updated: Mar 25
I remember when Paula was pregnant and said that she heard about hypnobirthing and was thinking of booking a course. One day she said "I've booked it! It's on Saturday". Great I thought, I can make plans with friends while she's there... Then she said, "We're both going - you need to go too..". "Oh" I thought, is that really going to be worth it? Can't you just tell me the bits I need to know?!
Anyway, being a supportive birth partner (!) I accompanied my wife to the class and a short way into it started to realise why I was there. Everything started to make sense! It covered all sorts of things about birth that I didn't even know that I needed to know. It was informative and practical and when we left the session we also had some homework - to practice the various relaxations each day so they would be effective. So every evening before going to sleep I got into the habit of reading a couple - Paula would fall asleep every time, and sometimes I'd drop off too! That's quite nice, especially in the third trimestre of pregnancy when sleeping is becoming more tricky!
As the big day got closer we used what we'd learned to discuss Paula's birth preferences and put together a birth plan.
We decided to go for a home birth - the midwives of the Rainbow team at St George's hospital had been excellent along the way and answered all our questions - even I was persuaded which, being a risk manager for my profession was quite something (I admit I did a little of my own research too)! We were convinced this was the right choice for us, particularly given what we learned through hypnobirthing about how important the birth environment is for the birth to unfollow in the best possible way.
And then the big day finally arrived, and thankfully all went well. I was certainty busy on the day, not least due to inflating, filling and maintaining the temperature of the birthing pool that we'd had delivered to our house in a box a couple of weeks earlier. But having done the hypnobirthing course I felt strangely prepared - I knew which words to use and which not to use, I knew Paula's preferences around pain relief and when (not!) to remind her about these. I knew the stages of labour and had a very good idea throughout about where Paula was in the process, and could therefore give her comfort and encouragement that things were going well and progressing.
I knew how Paula wanted the environment to be, which meant keeping candles lit, aromatherapy diffusers full and playlists playing! I could also have informed conversations with the midwives about what was happening without Paula having to do this as she went into the later stages of labour. This was invaluable at one point where the midwives were monitoring the baby's heart rate and there was a chance of them suggesting a transfer to hospital; luckily all went well but Paula remained unaware of this at the time which was important so she could stay relaxed.
And amongst everything, being present, being there for her since the first surges began until the end was my main role, and even if I was busy doing other things that was what helped her the most - or at least she says so!
A few strong surges later, baby Arthur was born in the water in the early hours of the morning which was an incredible experience! We were over the moon and couldn't believe it! From my perspective the home birth experience was great as it was so relaxed, convenient and we could control our surroundings. But in any case, what we'd learned through hypnobirthing had been invaluable. It gave us the best chance possible to have the birth we wanted, and helped things go well on the day.
I also really believe that we have the happiest and calm baby we could have ever wish for thanks to a calm pregnancy and birth that gave him the best possible start to life.
Matt (Paula's husband)