How to Help at the Birth

Skin to skinBirths are exciting!  You've been looking forward to this grandbaby for nine long months, or perhaps been waiting many years to finally have a grandchild.  You want to be there and not miss the first moments in your grandbaby's life.  You're ready to spoil that grandbaby right from the start!

You can be a very important part of this birth.  Your support and encouragement can be very reassuring to your child.  More than anything, you want to be helpful.  So, what can you do to help?  Here are some suggestions:
  1. Remember, this is your child's birth.  No matter how much your child is like you, this birth may not be anything at all like how she was born.
  2. Ask your child about their birth plan.  Don't assume you know what they want you to do.  If it isn't clear, ask whether and how much you can be involved.
  3. Ask about their childbirth education classes.  What have they learned?  How do they plan to implement the skills they've been practicing?  Could you learn their relaxation exercises?
  4. Attend a prenatal visit with them.  Get to know the midwives and the birth center.
  5. Come to the birth day planning meeting the month before the due date.  This will give you an opportunity to learn more about what to expect at the birth, and during the early postpartum period.
  6. During labor, the best thing to say is "You're doing great! You can do this!"  Even if it looks like she's struggling, it is best to encourage her and praise her efforts.  It is not helpful to say, "You've been in pain for a long time now," or "I don't understand why this is taking so long.  Your birth was _____..."
  7. During labor, try not to talk during contractions.  For that matter, when she's in active labor and working hard, it is best not to engage the mother in conversation.  She needs to turn off that part of her brain in order for her to keep her momentum going during active labor.
  8. Offer something to eat and drink.  Small, nutritious, easy to digest snacks are good choices during labor.  She may only want a bite or two, every so often, and that's fine.  Keeping hydrated is extremely important.  She should be drinking 4-8 oz of fluids every hour.  Sometimes more.  Don't ask if she wants a drink.  Instead, prepare the drink, hold it to her mouth, and say, "here's a drink."
  9. Respect that this birth is an important moment for the couple.  They may want privacy at times, and certain moments are theirs alone.  No offense is intended.
  10. Ask the midwife if there is anything you can do to help.  She may offer suggestions for ways you can support the couple.
  11. Prepare a meal for after the birth.
  12. Skin to skin contact is important for both mother and baby.  Ideally, the first hour after birth should not be interrupted unless absolutely necessary.  You'll have plenty of opportunities to hold the baby after this irreplaceable time.
  13. Plan to stay to help with keeping the house in order and preparing meals for several days after the birth.  The mother needs at least 2 days in bed, and should be spending her time resting, eating, and nursing her baby.  Your help after the birth is so important to them, and is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give them.

NOVA Natural Birth Center
4200A Technology Court ♦ Chantilly, VA 20151
Phone: 703-357-3808 ♦ Fax: 888-770-0243

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