You should practice your conditioning exercises, relaxation exercises, and breathing patterns every day. If possible, get in two practice sessions per day—one alone and one with your labor partner. You can do the relaxation exercises and breathing patterns the same time you do the conditioning exercises, or you can do them in separate sessions. Ty to practice when you are rested and can fully concentrate on your efforts.
Rehearse in your mind the labor and birth of your baby. Start with early labor and continue through transition, pushing, and delivery. Learn your role so completely that you will automatically begin a breathing pattern and relax your body when a contraction begins.
Following is a suggested sequence for practicing your exercises and patterns. Add to it as you learn new techniques.
1. Do each conditioning exercise the recommended number of times.
2. Practice a relaxation exercise. Vary the choice of exercise.
3. Practice the slow paced breathing pattern, with the contractions lasting 60 seconds each. Do a series of three contractions, with 60-second rests in between the contractions. Practice a massage technique as a comfort measure at the same time.
4. Practice the modified paced breathing pattern, with three contractions lasting 60 to 90 seconds each. Maintain a steady, even breathing rate throughout each contraction. Then practice the accelerated-decelerated breathing pattern while your partner applies manual pressure.
5. Practice the patterned paced breathing pattern, with the contractions lasting 90 seconds each. Do a series of three contractions, with 30-second rests in between the contractions. Have your partner call out a premature urge to push lasting 15 seconds during one or more of the contractions. Blow out forcefully and continuously until your partner signals that the urge to push has passed. Then return to the patterned paced breathing pattern to finish the contraction.
6. Practice both gentle pushing and breath holding pushing three times each. Have the contractions last 60 seconds each, with 1 to 2 minutes of rest in between the contractions. Practice with the different pushing positions, so that you will be comfortable in all of them.
Once you become familiar with all of the breathing patterns, practice your relaxation and breathing in various positions—standing, semireclining, sitting in a rocking chair, side-lying, or kneeling on your hands and knees. This will help ensure maximum comfort and relaxation in all positions during labor.
To be even more prepared, simulate various kinds of labor situations as you practice. This will help you to cope better with a problem, if one should arise. Some examples of labor variations are back labor, induced or very rapid labor, loss of control, and hyperventilation.
- Learn about alternative methods of pain relief for labor and discuss them with your partner.
- Learn the acupressure points for pain relief.
- Recite a visualization for your partner.
- Encourage a daily practice session during the last month of pregnancy.
For The Labor Partner: Helpful Hints
Several additional ways in which you can help out are the following:
• Simulate contractions during practice by applying manual pressure to the bony part of your partner’s wrist, elbow, or knee to cause discomfort. As you call out the contraction, gradually build to a peak, then gradually ease the pressure. Increase and decrease the pressure in varying patterns, so that you partner can respond to different sensations. For example, slowly increase the pressure to a peak, then rapidly decline; peak quickly and maintain strength through most of the contraction; or peak several times during the same contraction. This technique is especially helpful for practicing accelerated-decelerated breathing. Remember, this technique is only for practice.
• Call out the passing seconds in 15-second intervals. Pacing the contraction helps your partner to keep her perspective.
• Observe for tension in your partner both during and between contractions. The longer the labor continues, the greater is the chance of tension slowly spreading. Use both touch and verbal cues as needed to encourage relaxation.
• Help your partner to maintain breathing rhythm by counting or breathing with her. Tapping on a ard surface or moving your hand in front of her face may also keep her on track.
• Encourage your partner to take advantage of Braxton-Hicks contractions as signals to practice relaxation and breathing patterns.
The ways in which labor partners can help out during pregnancy, labor, and delivery are innumerable. This website has suggestions in every section. With a little common sense, imagination, and teamwork, pregnancy and childbirth can be one of the more fulfilling times in a relationship.