The Birth Coach

I can hear the baby’s heart if I rest my ear against S’s belly. According to the midwives, he’s in a head’s down position, ready for entry (or ejection, depending on your POV), and the round hard lump we’ve been feeling the past couple of weeks is his big ass. His kicks are getting stronger and longer, reaching parts of S’s midsection they haven’t before.

As he grows, S continues to feel new sensations (mostly aches, pains, and other annoyances). Last weekend, for example, she had heart palpitations. This is normal, as she’s got 45% more blood flowing around in there, putting a strain on her circulatory system. The strange thing was they came on when she was sitting down, so she couldn’t do much except take deep breaths and try not to panic. I felt like a fifth wheel, and don’t think I did anything to really help her through them, except generally be positive.

This brings up an issue we’ve been talking about a lot recently: the role of the birth coach. (That’s me.) It’s a job I take seriously! After all, I’m part of the reason she’s in this mess. I’m reading The Birth Partner and also Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, in which the coach has a very active role. Apparently, if I do a good job, I should be more tired than S at the end of the labor, though I probably won’t be quite as sore. I have to talk her through the contractions, and make sure she’s comfortable, support her while she squats, rub her back when it’s bothering her, fetch her food and water, though we’re still figuring out how exactly I do this without driving her nuts or getting in her way.

So we’re trying to find ways to practice our teamwork. The other night she did an exercise video featuring this woman from Cirque de Soleil. (Who is crazy, FYI. She’s pregnant, like really pregnant, not just a little pregnant, and she goes vertical in a forearm stand, her legs reaching over her in a scorpion pose, a challenge even for us non-pregnant folk. She even puts in a disclaimer that she’s just showing off, she’s not suggesting the mommy-to-be try this herself.) One of the exercises, “keep it up,” called for S to put her thumbs up and make small circles with her arms for three minutes. It sounds easy, but about halfway through your arms want to stop and your thumbs want to come down and things go from fun to uncomfortable. That’s when the coach comes in.

I did my best to remind her to breathe deep, encouraging her to keep moving, telling her she was almost there! etc. Staying positive. Once I tried to rub her back and she said, “Don’t touch me now,” so I backed off. It was a short exercise, sure, but at least it’s something, and we’ll keep repeating it as the weeks go on. What else can we do?

If only we could simulate labor somehow, pain and all. Though I guess that would take all the fun out of it.

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