Preparing yourself mentally to be the best labor coach possible
In the spring I wrote about the role of coaches in the labor process and the key attributes of successful coaches.
In this blog entry I’ll explore some of the techniques I’ve used to prepare myself mentally for my role as coach in our three births.
Of course this assumes that you are already fully committed to being a great labor coach and have been actively involved during the pregnancy in supporting our spouse to prepare for a great birth. This includes:
* Educating yourself about the detailed process of pregnancy and labor.
* You have assisted your partner in her healthy nutrition during pregnancy
* You have worked with your partner to ensure she has been exercising to ensure she has the strength and stamina necessary for the labor process.
* You have worked with your partner and care providers to craft a birth plan to describe in detail your wishes related to labor and delivery.
OK, now are you fully prepared? What can you do to ensure that you are *creating* the opportunity for the best outcome possible for Mom and baby?
If you have done your preliminary work and have a detailed birth plan then you will have a good idea of your ideal birth including (but maybe not limited to) environmental factors, food/beverage desires, clothing you need, attendees at your birth, the birth team and the detailed process of labor; everything should be scripted.
That’s a great starting point.
Now the real prep work begins, like this:
What are the ways in which your labor might deviate from the scripted plan?
Possible Deviation Ideas:
Environment: place of birth, room, furniture (bed etc.), temperature, lighting, bedding (sheets/blankets), odors, noise, music et al
Clothing: too few clothes, not the right clothes, clothes get dirty/unusable.
People: attendees (inclusive, exclusive), nurses, staff, doctors, other patients (pro and con scenarios for all)
Food/Beverage: will you have food, not have food, don’t have enough food, food gets spoiled, planned food is not what Mom wants now that she’s in labor, cafeteria under construction, staff takes your food
Labor: consider any and all possible interventions, drugs, surgery, labor process checks...note this may be your largest and most important list.
Make a List, Check it twice:
Spend some time to develop a list of possible deviations separately and then together with your partner. This is a good exercise that will reveal were both of your concerns lie.
Note that your deviation lists should be VERY big. If you only have a handful of ideas then you’re not thinking hard enough or creatively enough.
Once you have a large list of possible plan deviations (list could be literally 100s of things), you’ll need to categorize the list. I’d recommend two categories, likelihood and importance. This way you can focus your energies on the most highly likely and most important deviations.
Now develop scenarios for your top deviations. I recommend setting these up as IF-THEN constructs. For example: If X happens then I/We will do Y.
Here is one scenario: If we get a nurse that makes my wife very uncomfortable then I will talk to the charge nurse and get a new nurse assigned to us.
Do this for all deviation scenarios that you think are worthy of your attention.
OK, after doing this deviation exercise your are MUCH better prepared for a positive outcome that closely matches your ideal labor scenario.
There is one more thing that you can do with all this new information:
Start with the ideal birth plan. Rehearse in your mind how the labor process will go in your ideal birth.
Now move to your deviation IF/THEN statements. Rehearse what you will do and how you will act for each deviation.
Once you have *seen* yourself acting out each of your deviation scenarios then go back to the ideal labor and *see* that in your mind again.
You can do this exercise again and again. Now when deviations come up during the labor process you are MUCH better prepared to deal with them because it’s much more likely that you have already rehearsed that deviation ahead of time. Even if a deviation comes up in your labor that you did not envision your and your spouse are already well practiced in “deviation management” and scenario communication. As a result you will be much better prepared to handle whatever comes your way.
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
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