by Erin Bockstael, Health Educator
Photo courtesy of Alicia Thwaites.
How can I prevent passing out or freaking out in the labour room?
Now this is a real FAQ here at the Birth Centre. Birth is a big deal, and we know that people in labour need support. But how can you be a good support if you black out during someone’s most vulnerable moment?
People ask me this question because they want to be helpful and supportive, and they worry that they won’t measure up.
Here are some practical ways that can help you be there for your pregnant person:
1) Food and drink.
We’re more vulnerable to fainting or feeling light-headed when our blood sugar is low, or if we’re dehydrated. Make sure to have something to eat and drink every 2 to 3 hours if you can. Pack what you can in the hospital bag. Even if birth goes quickly, you might be happy to have them afterwards.
2) Have a backup.
Is there someone who is close to your family, that the labouring person might trust to step in and support them if you need to rest? Birth can be a marathon, and you might need support, or someone to bring you things.
3) Distractions for both of you.
Hold a drink for them to sip, put lotion on hands or feet, rub their back, say encouraging things, and offer an essential oil (mint or citrus can be particularly helpful) for them to smell. Trying these things can help keep you both centered during labour.
4) Know your role.
You are not responsible for providing medical care. Often, the most helpful thing for you to do is to talk to your partner, and pay attention to their needs. Holding hands, talking, and looking them in the eyes might be comforting, and it helps you avoid observing any medical procedures that might be necessary. Caring, competent health care providers can give the needles – you don’t have to watch! You are there to provide emotional support, caring and encouragement.
5) Take care of yourself.
Try to breathe deeply. If you start to feel lightheaded, try to move out of the way and lean against a wall. If you need to, sit on the floor with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent, lean forward, and rest your head on your knees. Any feelings of nausea and lightheadedness should pass.
Erin Bockstael is a bilingual Health Educator at Women’s Health Clinic, who focuses on maternal health and wellness.