How can my partner be involved during labour?
A partner can have a crucial role to play and there is ample scientific evidence that the partner's presence and participation can significantly improve the woman's perception of labour and childbirth as a positive and enriching experience. There is also evidence that it may reduce the need for pharmacological pain relief.
The partner can be there to offer physical and emotional support, ensure you are comfortable, help in moving and changing position, adjusting cushions etc. and can help and support you when you want to move about. He should also help in breathing together to keep steady rhythm and help you focus on this. You will have gone through those paces together again and again during antenatal Active Birth couples classes, and therefore he will know what to do.
Massage during labour is another invaluable role that a partner can play, as well as offering sips of water and carrying out other minor chores that arise. He will be there to liaise with the care-givers in advocating your wishes and allow you to participate in any decision-making that may arise. He will also be there with you offering support through any procedure or even any administration of drugs that may have to be undertaken.
At delivery, he may want to cut the umbilical cord.
If I need an epidural for pain relief, can I still have an Active Birth?
Epidural pain relief is not incompatible with Active Birth. This is why in the classes, comprehensive information is given on all manner of pain control in labour. If you are in a lot of pain and distressed by it, an epidural may be the ideal mode of pain relief. This may allow you to rest, even get some sleep. With an epidural, only some adjustments may be required for Active Birth. You could try supported upright positions which you will have practised antenatally in the classes.
An epidural does not have to completely ground you and if you make your wishes known to the anaesthetist administering it, you could still be fairly free to move about with support. A partner is particularly useful here.
Epidural needs top-ups to keep the effectiveness optimal. You can time top-ups to allow wearing off during the second stage, so you can adopt your preferred position without the epidural being a hindrance.
Do I need to learn any breathing techniques for an Active Birth?
Not really. The yoga classes do focus on breathing to emphasize the role of natural breathing in each position. You are encouraged to use the natural spontaneous breathing cycle. You are also encouraged to avoid holding breath at the height of contractions.
You are bound to memorize the practice and this will instinctively come back during actual labour. The assisting midwife will encourage you to breathe lightly (pant) at the time of "crowning" of the baby's head. This curtails the instinctive bearing down and therefore reduces the risk of tearing the perineal tissues.
If I am induced or my labour is augmented with a syntocinon drip, can I still use upright positions?
Yes. If you make your wishes known beforehand, the midwife will arrange for you to have the drip sited at an ideal position on your arm to facilitate freedom of movement. Even the baby's monitoring can be planned in such a way as to allow you that freedom.
As a matter of fact, induced or augmented labour does not differ that much from spontaneous labour and it should not interfere that much with your birth plan. Your midwife will be there to support you throughout and ensure there is no unnecessary departure from your wishes.