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The Role of the Birth Partner

A question I often get asked about is the role of the birth partner. What can they do to make a difference? What can they do to help in pregnancy and birth? Are they just there to cut the cord? No, the birth partner is exactly that - a 'partner' to the birthing person and together, they make the perfect team to welcome the baby into the world. 

A birth partner's instinct is to protect, and that instinct has been developing for millennia too.  It is a proven fact that the birth partner's hormones adapt to this supporting, but vital role around the time of the birth, with these hormones reverting to normal a few weeks later. Quite amazing! 

So all future birth partners, please read on! I hope these details will help you enjoy this amazing journey you are on!

Not just a spare part! 

Perhaps the most valuable support a birth partner can give is simply being there! Without exception, everyone agrees that the continuous support of a known caregiver gives the best outcomes in birth. The birth partner can offer this continuity that sadly, the birthing person rarely experiences in the UK. The birthing person will go to antenatal appointments and rarely see the same midwife. If they give birth in hospital and there is a shift changeover, they may see at least four different midwives during labour. What the birth partner brings is that continuity - being there from start to finish, they are the constant that the mother will really appreciate and be able to rely on. 

A knowledgeable KGH birth partner provides that continuity simply by being there for them throughout the entire labour, birth and post-birth journey. Just knowing that the person you know and care for mutually is there for you is of enormous benefit when giving birth.

A KGHypnobirthing birth partner provides important support for a woman giving birth:

In Pregnancy

Get involved: 

If the birthing person asks you join them on a KGHypnobirthing course, do it. Attend the entire course with them - not only is this supporting them, but you will learn so much and I promise, you will even enjoy it! You will understand what the body is doing to grow that baby, you'll come away knowing what labour involves and even have a list of roles just for you as the birth partner! 

Equally, if they ask you to read The Hypnobirthing Book, watch a video, read them a relaxation script - please do it! All of these tasks will help you understand your role and you will be grateful to learn and support them on the journey. 

Practice: 

Most of the work of KGH is done in pregnancy so practice is essential. Not only will practicing KGH techniques in pregnancy bring a couple closer together, the partner knows that they have also played a hugely useful role in how the baby enters the world. This also deepens their bond with the newborn child after birth.

Ask questions: 

A KGH birth partner can be extremely supportive in antenatal appointments (as well as in labour) and is the person who helps to ask the questions that ensures they makes the decisions that give them the best possible birth experience. 

Learn: 

Another big role for the birth partner is to know the birth plan and preferences inside out. We suggest you read and discuss this before labour starts so you know what the plan is prior to putting it into action! In fact, one step better - write the plan together. When they are in labour, they may not want to talk at all - even to you, but if a decision needs to be made, knowing the birth plan will ensure you, as their partner, can be spokesperson to ensure everything is done 'to plan'. Do not underestimate you being their advocate, it is a hugely important role. 

At the Birth

Protect: 

The birth partner’s most important role is to protect the birth person's space and make sure nobody disturbs their private bubble of positivity and calm. This is especially important in the down (second) stage of labour as that is when many midwives will start to instruct pushing and interfere with their space.

Prompts: 

Prompts during surges can be very helpful, and many mothers have said, ‘It was their (birth partner) voice that kept me focussed. I couldn’t have done it without them.’ Remember that, at times, they may prefer silence.

Practice into action: 

During pregnancy you may have gone to sleep listening to a KGH relaxation audio, and the cumulative effect of this relaxation is available to them when they gives birth.  As the birth partner, one of your roles could be to ensure the relaxation is playing or to suggest it if it has slipped their mind.

Or the gentle back stroking that you practised in pregnancy is wonderful during surges when in labour.

Hydration & energy: 

It is important that during labour they do not become dehydrated. Offer a sip of water from time to time. A few drops of Five Flower Remedy from Healing Herbs can help them remain calm and confident.

Giving birth is a strenuous physical activity and making sure they have snacks available as required will keep their energy up. Discuss this before so you know what snacks they may like and have them ready to give at regular intervals. They simply may forget to eat so this is a simple yet essential task for you as the birth partner!

Essential oils & remedies: 

Use essential oil of lavender for a calm environment - which they may have used during pregnancy anyway as it promotes calm and relaxation. This can be in a cup of hot water, on a pillow or simply a few drops on a muslin or tissue which they can hold near their nose. 

They may like to be offered arnica to dissolve under the tongue. This is the remedy that supports tissue under stress and, however gentle the birth, the body has been doing unusual work.

After the Birth

The ‘golden hour’ after birth is an extremely important time of transition for a new baby. Their whole being will be focussed on their baby, so it is up to the birth partner to keep an eye on whatever you had decided about, for example:

  • Delayed cord clamping - 'Wait for White'
  • Injection of synthetic oxytocin 
  • Vitamin K for the baby

Immediate skin to skin contact at this time is essential and they should not be separated for anything unless it is an emergency. Of course, this time includes skin to skin bonding for the birth partner too - and doing so at the right time, can give them a little break to take in just what their body has just achieved - amazing! 

As one partner said on a KGH course for their second child; ‘When we had our first baby, I thought birth was something that you do. Now I know it’s something that happens.’

Hypnobirthing Techniques and Tips

KGH is a complete antenatal education programme that supports you and your birth partner to explore, empower and discover how calm, confident and positive your baby’s birth can be.

Culture of Fear

From time immemorial our birth culture has been one of fear, with horror stories passed down from generations of women, strangers, friends and colleagues. British media shows ‘warts and all’ documentaries following women having difficult, painful and frightening birth experiences, where mum has to be rescued by medical staff.

Confident and Calm

Quite simply, we have lost much of our innate knowledge about how birth should be. Hypnobirthing aims to create the learning environment where magic happens - mothers, fathers, families and friends experience the confident and calm pregnant women making decisions that suit her body and her baby, using the KGHypnobirthing tools, techniques and information to make empowered choices that will affect her family positively for life.

Painful or Powerful?

Two of the main criticisms I have heard levelled against hypnobirthing are that a woman feels she has failed if she hasn’t achieved the perfect birth (whatever that may be), and that women are told they are not allowed to push which is unrealistic.

The first thing about this is that the word hypnobirthing is used generically without reference to which school of hypnobirthing is being discussed. It’s rather like saying, ‘All cars handle badly,’ rather than specifying a particular make which may have the problem.

First let’s look at the question about whether a hypnobirthing mother feels guilty if she hasn’t given her baby the perfect birth, whatever that may be. In KG Hypnobirthing we take enormous care, right from the start to ensure this does not happen, and I believe there are other schools of hypnobirthing that take the same view. At the beginning of our course, when couples are asked to tell us what it is about birth that they fear, they almost always include procedures like induction of labour, drugs, c-section, forceps, ventouse, episiotomy, etc. We then point out that all these things are wonderful and life-savers in the right circumstances and that the only problem arises when they are over–used or become routine. We stress that we are extremely lucky to live in a society where this help is available when needed, and this theme continues throughout the course.

To push or not to push

Now comes the question of whether to push or not to push. Some people have strong feelings on this which is unfortunate and unnecessary. In KG Hypnobirthing we teach women the breathing to use in this stage of labour which experience shows works very well on its own. Some women feel the urge to bear down as well and, with hypnobirthing she has learnt to relax and listen to and work with her body, so it would be ridiculous and indeed harmful to try to stop this urge if it arises. In fact she couldn’t stop it if she tried. All that would happen is that she would tense up and possibly tear. There are still some health professionals who urge a woman to push, and this is equally harmful, as it also means she forces her muscles and possibly tears. The answer is that you do the breathing and bear down if you feel the urge but the breathing will work well on its own if you don’t. There is no dogma; just plain common sense.

Some people suffer under the misconception that hypnobirthing is only for ‘low risk’ women. This obsession on ‘risk’ is harmful in itself, but hypnobirthing makes a difference to all women. I realise that this is a sweeping statement and I would very seldom use the word ‘all’, but my experience is that this is the case. Of course we cannot promise ‘the perfect birth’. Nothing could, and it would be untrue to suggest this. You could look at a woman’s experience of birth as coming somewhere along a line, a continuum. At one end is the screaming and writhing in agony that is often portrayed on the media. On the other end you get the situation that it not infrequently reported to me from KG Hypnobirthing mothers that there was no pain and giving birth was the most wonderful and empowering experience of her life. Everyone naturally comes somewhere along this line, and hypnobirthing always moves a woman along the line towards the birth she would hope to have. One of the things that makes an enormous difference to how far she moves is the practice she does at home which is simple and very effective and is taught to her and her partner on the course.
A midwife who attended the KG Hypnobirthing Teacher Training Course reported to me that the most impressive example of hypnobirthing she ever saw was a woman who had a long induced labour ending in a caesarean. Throughout the labour she was sitting on a birth ball and the only indication that she was having a contraction was that her fingers moved slightly. Not the birth she would have hoped for, but nevertheless hypnobirthing made a massive difference to her and her baby’s experience.

Calm in an emergency

Hypnobirthing mothers have also reported that, when an emergency arose, everyone else around them seemed to be panicking, but they felt completely calm. The benefits of this are that she would continue to produce oxytocin, the hormone of calm, which would continue to facilitate the working of the muscles of the uterus and the production of the hormones of birth, and would affect both her and her baby’s experience of birth. There are many other examples that you can find on this website

Of course the person who is with a woman in labour is of vital importance to her experience. There are a few pockets of excellence where the NHS provides continuity of care from a known midwife, but sadly this is seldom the case. Some woman turn to an independent midwife for the care they would like to receive, and some employ a doula to support them on their journey. It is also one of the huge advantages of a hypnobirthing father who is well trained and understands what she is doing and how to help her. He also has the advantage of being the person she knows and loves.
Birth is always a powerful experience as some of the strongest muscles of the human body are working to capacity, but it does not have to be a painful experience. Powerful and painful are entirely different experiences.

Why I Chose Hypnobirthing as a Career

The quick explanation is that I didn’t. Hypnobirthing found me. Like so many good things in life, it appears to have happened as a result of a series of coincidences.

Being a hypnobirthing teacher is supremely satisfying . To be invited into someone’s life at such a special time as pregnancy knowing that you are going to make the experience even better is a privilege indeed.

Simplicity and Logic

When I first trained as a hypnobirthing teacher I was blown away at the simplicity, logic and power of the concept but I had no idea how, in 12 years, hypnobirthing would take over my life and KG Hypnobirthing would be the biggest hypnobirthing organisation in the country.

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The first course I taught was a private course for a couple in their own home. When they sent me the report a few weeks later of their wonderful and easy birth, I literally danced around the room with delight. That first story gave me confidence, but the happiness and delight of receiving an email from a woman who describes her birth as the most wonderful and inspiring experience of her life is just as exciting now 12 years later.

People who are not in the hypnobirthing world underestimate the effectiveness and significance of the system. The ‘hypno’ word does us no service, but the name is now known by hospitals and pregnant women throughout the country. Hypnobirthing is simple, logical and profound. Many things that women are told to do in pregnancy and birth are based on very little research and are open to question. We in KG Hypnobirthing believe that couples are entitled to a logical explanation of how a woman’s body works and so can see why the suggestions we make in a hypnobirthing class would make a difference.

When I first started to teach hypnobirthing, I received some wonderful reports, but a few were not so positive. I read the ones very carefully where the birth had not been quite as the woman hoped and learnt from them. Over the years adjustments have been made to the KG Hypnobirthing course, and I am confident now that it works well for all stages of labour. But sometimes one of these reports told me that the hypnobirthing course had given the woman all the information and techniques she needed but somebody had persuaded her to do something different after the course.

The obstetric units in big NHS hospitals are busy places. The people who work in them are kind and caring, and they would not have gone into the profession otherwise, but sometimes they simply don’t have the time to spend the time that they would like explaining procedures or alternatives to a woman. In KG Hypnobirthing not only do we give a woman the tools to have the best birth for her, but we also fully explain how the system works and what the alternatives are so that she is fully informed and can make the best choices for her.

When I am teaching hypnobirthing to couples I am very aware that I am speaking to two separate audiences. The mothers will have been googling since the moment they knew they were pregnant. They will be well informed and understand the terminology. The fathers will quite likely not have been doing any of this, and one of the things men always say when you ask them what they want to get out of a hypnobirthing class is that they want knowledge and information. The fathers often arrive very sceptical and really don’t want to be there. They leave enthusiastic about hypnobirthing and its staunchest advocates.

If you would like to know more about hypnobirthing, the best way to find out is to read the testimonials by clicking here. To find out about it through the words of mothers, fathers and midwives who have experienced it is the very best way to fully understand.

These days I spend more time training teachers than teaching couples. This came about simply because people asked me to train them. Most of the time I work with an experienced midwife to deliver our specialist hospital course as an in-house training in hospitals. We feel that, combining the knowledge and experience of the first and largest UK hypnobirthing organisation with that of a senior midwife is the very best combination. The midwifery world is changing and developing all the time and our course changes and develops with it. We have been told that our course is of degree standard, and we are now training obstetricians as well as midwives which is an important step forward.

I may have gone into hypnobirthing by coincidence, but I know very well why I now devote my whole life to teaching and developing KG Hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing is a revolution. It is a grass roots revolution, brought about by women. Originally a few brave women did this unknown course with the odd name, and when they found that it worked and birth became a gentle and natural experience for them they told their friends. News about hypnobirthing spread, and then midwives saw the difference it made to the women in their care. The comment of a midwife after being present at her first hypnobirthing birth is usually, ‘I couldn’t believe how calm she was.’ Midwives want to do the best for women, so they started to suggest hypnobirthing to other women, and so it grew. Now news has reached obstetricians too.

People who have not trained in hypnobirthing do not really understand its power and significance. I have the privilege to teach it, and I know that it is supremely important. Knowledge of hypnobirthing has swept through the NHS in ten years, which is a very short time for a large bureaucracy to move and it is changing practice to the benefit of women and their babies.

Studying in Hypnobirthing

If you choose to study KG Hypnobirthing we give you more than just the training course. The course itself is made up of three modules:

  • Hypnotherapy for Hypnobirthing (web based learning).
  • KG Hypnobirthing Workshop (3 days). The complete hypnobirthing course, together with all the background about why it works and how to apply it in the birth environment.
  • Birthing Foundation which covers the anatomy, physiology and midwifery aspects of birth.

The Birthing Foundation and Hypnotherapy for Hypnobirthing module must be completed and assessed before attending the KG Hypnobirthing Workshop.

However it takes more than just this course to be a successful Hypnobirthing teacher. We show our teachers how to run a business, and market themselves to parents to be. We will provide you with all the course materials needed including the bestselling Hypnobirthing book. When qualified, you will be enrolled on our teachers’ listing which helps you attract business in your own area. We share with our teachers the very latest information on how to run and teach hypnobirthing courses, news and updates from the birthing world. We run study days with people that will help you learn and understand more, Michel Odent, myself, and others with Hypnobirthing experience to help you always grow and develop. As well as the website we send occasional emails when events are coming up, and share information via our teachers-only Facebook group.
We give you the best possible support as you launch into the world of Hypnobirthing. I hope very much that you will choose to join us.

If you are interested in becoming a KG Hypnobirthing Teacher we have a number of upcoming courses around the UK, please click here for more details.  Or if you simply want to have a chat and find out more about these courses please call 01264 535 002 or email us through our contact form.  We look forward to hearing from you.

What is Hypnobirthing?

I came to Hypnobirthing by chance. One of those apparent chances that you wonder if they’re really chances at all. A colleague had done the training, and mentioned to me in passing that I might enjoy it. It has changed my professional life.

Having had four children of my own, I had considerable experience of birth from the practical side. When my children were born there had been good preparation classes which included relaxation and breathing based on the teaching of Grantly Dick-Reed. Hypnobirthing takes his premise much much further.

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KGHypnobirthing has been featured in:

The Sunday Times The Guardian Radio 4 Woman's Hour Prima Baby & Pregnancy OK! Mother & Baby  The Telegraph Daily Mail

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