A good labor coach can impact the birth experience. Labor coaches provide support and encouragement during the labor process. A good labor coach helps the expecting mom through her labor and works to keep her focused, relaxed and productive. But being a good labor coach takes work.
How to Be a Labor Coach
Attend a childbirth education class with the expecting mom. Taking a childbirth education class together can help prepare you both for what to expect during labor and delivery. Being prepared for what to expect can help ease anxiety and promote a relaxed atmosphere.
Read, read and read. From books to websites, read what you can about the labor and birth experience. Reading personal birth stories can help you anticipate what to expect. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is a great book that shares the natural birth experience of many women. The first half of the book is full of personal stories that share individual birth experiences and the second half explains the birthing process detailing exactly what the body is doing during each stage of labor. Reading this book can help reduce fear and anxiety in expecting parents and labor coaches.
Make a plan together. Work with the expecting mom to develop a labor and birth plan. Talk about pain relief options, what type of support she thinks she may need and what type of things you should bring with you. A good labor coach plans to take care of him or herself during the labor by packing what he or she needs. This includes clothing and snacks.
Don't take anything personally during labor and delivery. This is a time of high emotions. A good labor coach doesn't take comments personally and really just does what the laboring woman asks. Be prepared to adjust the temperature in the room several times and for unusual treatment from the laboring woman.
Be an advocate for the laboring woman. If she appears in distress or in need of assistance from her medical team, let them know. If her wishes aren't being followed out (when they could be) let her medical team know.
Stay calm. Keep a positive attitude and stay focused on the action at hand. Try to keep the laboring mom from panicking and to reassure her that she is doing a great job. Praise her often and pay attention to the verbal and non verbal cues she is giving you with regards to what she needs. Work to keep her in the moment.