Counter Pressure During Labor and Other Support Tips Dads and PartnersJun 10, 2022
The Curtis Method has a private facebook group for couples who have taken our classes, where they can ask questions, get support, read articles, share birth stories, and learn from one another. It’s a phenomenal group and it’s one of the greatest resources our expecting moms have access to as they prepare for birth.
We recently asked the following question to our group members, and we got so many fantastic responses that we just had to create a blog post for everyone to enjoy! We teach a full Daddy/Partner Doula Training as part of our Curtis Method classes, so that each couple is fully prepared to participate in a positive birth experience.
Partners, are you ready for real world advice about how to be a rockstar birth companion?
What is the most helpful thing your partner did to support you in labor? Counter pressure? Affirmations? Breathing? Massage? Just staying present and holding space? Let’s get some ideas going!
I thought my husband would ignore me the whole labor because he refused to go to classes and he was totally uninterested in my pregnancy. My good friend was pregnant at the same time as me and her hubby was so sweet with her. He would go on ice cream runs and rub her feet. I was slightly jealous. I actually remember being 9 months pregnant and bursting into tears because his brother was rubbing his,non pregnant, wife’s feet. I watched and thought my husband just didn’t care about me or my hard pregnancy. Then I made him go to the Curtis Method and it was seriously the biggest difference. He was suddenly on board with everything. He would talk about how much he liked dancing and being close to me and the baby. She literally taught him how to be there for me. I don’t think he knew how to be there until Lauralyn showed him. He was so great during the labor and I’m so glad he was the only one there for me. I think it made him feel like I trusted him to be there for me. I was also so happy when my baby finally came, because it was just our little family. Me, him, and our new baby. It brought us so much closer together. It actually bothered me that my extended family came so quickly. I just wanted him and I to bond with our baby. Anyways it’s different for everybody, but he may just not understand how to be there for you. Make him be. It’s a new experience for both of you.
Counter pressure with our doula was obviously amazing and being there for me to just dance with and hold me up through expansions! He was going through every step with me, every single expansion and I loved it!! I needed it!
My husband was amazing at helping me get comfortable, diffusing oils. I had every nurse mention how amazing my room smelled. He was amazing at getting the music meditations set up when I was in need of focus.
All I wanted during my whole 10 hour active labour was to hug and dance with my hubby! He was a trooper. And he used the shoulder anchor when I would get out of control and massage my jaw when I would tense up. He let me stare into his right pupil, which apparently was freaking him out, but that turned out to be my focus point so he just let me do it! Lol! Then he did counter pressure in my knees and hips while I was pushing. BEST DADDY DOULA EVER!
Listening to me. Talking with me. I was very chatty during labor with my second. With my first, I labored in bed with him breathing deeply next to me. He was present. I guess I’m relatively weird because I just want him there and to do what I say.
Being my voice at the hospital when I couldn’t for myself.He would stand up for my preferences and desires because he knew them, even though I wasn’t in a space to talk for myself.
Oh my goodness. My hubby is the best. He always knows how to make me laugh and he kept it up all the way through transition with our second. I was happy and relaxed and we even sang along to a cute little country song that came on while I was breathing through the contractions in the tub. The midwives were all amazed by it. It was the coolest thing and he made me feel so loved. It was the perfect birth experience. Each time I started to get a little overwhelmed he did or said something he knew I would think was funny or he would give me a kiss or do light touch massage to instantly melt me back into relaxation. You taught him that in your class, Lauralyn!
My husband knew our birth plan and preferences so well. He would speak up for me about things he knew I wanted because I was so in the zone and didn’t want to talk to anyone. On particularly difficult expansions, I would tap him on the arm which was my signal to him that I wanted him to do the shoulder anchor. He was essentially my doula since I didn’t hire one and he was absolutely essential to a successful birth I think.
Holding space, being quiet and patient, putting a straw in my mouth and saying “drink” or making sure I took a bite of food every so often to keep up my energy, telling me how awesome I am and how proud he is, soft touch, letting me make decisions and not answering for me. Counter pressure was huge! He was sore afterwards but it made a huge difference in managing back labor.
Holding my hand, slow dancing, staying with me constantly even to use the bathroom, and kissing me (I have the cutest picture of him kissing my lower back while doing counter pressure on my hips). The two big ones for me: counter pressure and positive comments especially chiming in if any hospital staff said something that I might take negatively (i.e. “This is going to burn/hurt.”) He and my doula would chime in right away that I could do it, that I was strong, etc. Their reassuring words gave me something positive to focus on.
I’m going to jump in with a different perspective! My hubby is so uncomfortable with birth and hospitals– the best thing he did for me (and it took 2 births for us to figure this out) was to take care of himself, identify what he wanted to do to feel involved and useful and then hire the doula I dreamed of so I could be supported in every moment when he needed to take care of HIM. Find what works for you as a couple!! You can both have a magical time and feel supported if you can make space in your expectations for your experience to fit YOUR couple dynamic.
It helped that he knew when to just leave me alone!! Everyone tried all sorts of techniques but I just did better on my own.
When I would start to spin out in my head or feel out of control I would look at Ben and his eyes were so proud and so sure of what I was doing that I could instantly get back to my calm space and keep going. Everything about him was strong, proud, sure and unwavering. That’s what helped me…is having someone who knew I could do it, as much if not more so than myself. I had to commit or make a new plan…and I remember feeling the panic rise…but then I looked up and it all made sense again…ben didn’t even say words…I just knew.
For me, it is him telling me I can do this, telling me I’m doing amazing, telling me to trust myself, to “ride it out”, and at the point when I thought I was a crazy woman for going unmedicated, “this is what you want” which grounded me right away. reminding me to keep my noises low was HUGE at the end, getting me water, and doing counter pressure. After this last baby he says he wished he’d been working out his forearms because he was TIRED and sore after doing so much counter pressure with me saying “harder! harder!”
Being able to make decisions and hove my voice when I am not able to. He spoke up when he knew I wanted something but couldn’t think of the words.
Counter pressure, telling the annoying nurse to shut up, telling me to ignore the temp doc who was telling one of the nurses behind me that if I didn’t give birth in 5 minutes he would have to do a C-section, rubbing my back, giving me gatorade when I asked for it.
My husband brought the laptop and played Nacho Libre to make me laugh. I loved that, it really helped me feel relaxed. Haha. He also did counter pressure and reminded me to relax when I got too tense. When I had the feeling that I wasn’t sure if I could keep going, he was there to encourage and uplift. He held my hand. He told me multiple times that I was doing a great job. He also put music on while I was at the end stages of labor to kick my energy up. I’m so glad he was as supportive as he was!
During labor I just want him there but to mostly just let me do my thing. When it comes to the point I get to about 9cm through pushing (I’m typically hands and knees in tub) I want him right in front of me being a focus and encouraging me and just having a hand on me. It makes all the difference.
Mine made a playlist of songs including ones I like and he doesn’t and paced them according to the different stages of labor.
Positive affirmations from your class, massages and getting me to relax. He got me so relaxed I fell asleep!
Sweet words, eye contact and his strength to pull against as I pushed.
Saying my affirmations as if he were me. Also talking to the baby when the baby was stressed.
Just supporting me 100% in all of my decisions. Knowing beforehand that I’ve had his support had made me feel like I’m the one in control, that I have someone behind me supporting me no matter what. Giving me a voice in a time where I might not always have one. So I can focus on what I’m doing and not worry if someone might try to do something against my wishes.
Holding space 100%. He had been trying to load up the car and I got so pissed. I made him stay with me so we could smooch. Our doula took care of all the fine details like loading the car, giving my mom directions, etc. worth every single penny.
Honestly, smiling at me! He just looked so happy, and present, and excited, and it gave me energy and courage. I knew he was with me 100%.
Being quiet and present with me. Reminding me why I was doing it this way and reminding me I am completely capable. And counter pressure … basically a 9 hour massage.
Definitely staying present and holding space!! I would get anxious when I could not see or touch him. Dani
For me it was him being my focal point while breathing, and just being close by, I was doing fine on my own, but when I needed an extra boost of support I knew he was close by. Knowing that he was there for me as soon as I needed him to hold me, be my support when I couldn’t stand in my own, him telling me how well I was doing and that he was proud of me.
He kept encouraging me to keep going and that I could do it. I was strong enough. He kept me strong. He was also great to be the in between person between me and Dr.s/nurses. He understands my huffs and grunts and can understand when I’m talking under my breath, unlike they can. He was also calm. That helped loads!!
He held me and let me lean on him for a really long time. We greeted our little one early, and were not quite as prepared for our homebirth as we would have liked. He was such a great partner that I had no idea there was a ton of business around me. He took care of things so I could just labor and love. I will say though, taking on the responsibility of all that so I could labor without a care left him with some birth trauma of his own. The idea I’d like to offer birth partners is to NEVER be afraid to ask for help. Caring for the mother doesn’t mean being the one to care for everything. delegate some details in whatever capacity to alleviate your stress so you can be there for hers.
Two game changers: 1. Saying the word “Sloooow” 2. Counter pressure on the knees. I was totally able to ride the waves and both hubs and the midwife thought I was sleeping between the waves. I wasn’t, but that’s how relaxed I was.
Taking your class! My husband still talks about to his friends. Being present was the biggest and most helpful for me!
Absolutely counter pressure! He was like my epidural with that pressure on my lower back and hips. Totally saved me and helped through every contraction after I was in transition. That and just telling me I could do it. Reminding me I was strong.
Counter Pressure and Affirmations with my spouse were heaven sent. Belly lifts (which we learned in class) were also amazing.
He composed music for me! It was beautiful.
The Shoulder Anchor and whispering in my ear about how strong I was etc.
I labored standing because the pressure of sitting even on the ball hurt so he was literally my support! I would lean on his chest/shoulder and rock/breathe through my contractions! He was quietly supportive occasionally telling me how amazing I was and that I could/was doing it! It was just what I needed!
We had a long labor (36 hours)…I stayed dilated at a 6 for 14 hours and my husband just kept telling me “She’s almost here, not much longer now” helped a ton for like 5 hours. Once we got to pushing, I’ll never forget with each push he’d say, “All the air in the room.” It felt like we were the only ones there and helped me focus and relax. Pushing only felt like 30 minutes but was about 1.5 hours. He also would make the letter T on my forehead during contractions which symbolized to me more of a cross for religious beliefs and that made me feel safe and protected (he picked this up from our doula).
Breathing with me was way helpful and counter pressure. He did it every contraction for 22 hours I don’t know how I would have survived without it.
He helped with counter pressure, massage, and just always by my side. He never left my side because he wanted to stay with me, even when he was tired. With our first, I had been in labor for over 24 hours and 4 1/2 was active labor and pushing. I was so exhausted and so was he. I was on the bed by this point snoozing in between contractions and he was right there laying beside me, holding my hand the whole time and would help brace me during each contraction.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your class. Giving birth is the most vulnerable and intimate experiences. My husband being 110% present was the biggest reason I was able to do an unmedicated birth because when I was weak-he was strong and prepared with affirmations and love. Another thing that helped me is that he encouraged me to dig deep to my most primal and intuitive instincts that I was afraid to do. I wanted to birth silently. I was afraid of what the nurses and what my husband might think of me. I have a lot of shame from past experiences and listening to how people viewed birth. I was so afraid but when I was birthing and I hit a wall of panic and started to hyperventilate-my husband encouraged me make low sounds (what we learned in your class) he reminded me that if I relaxed my mouth, throat etc. that it would help and he even did it with me. Oh how it changed my feelings, sensations, and birthing.
"When it comes down to it, what matters most is what *you* want and need to feel comfortable and safe and relaxed in your birth environment. Not every couple has a relationship dynamic which is conducive to lots of intimate contact and attention — and that’s OK! Nobody should feel pressured to have certain people present and engaged in their birth experience if it that dynamic causes stress or distraction. And that means not just random friends/relatives, but sometimes even the father himself! There are many, varied ways to support a birthing mother, and not all of them involve close, constant contact. You should feel safe expressing what you want (and don’t want) from those you are inviting to participate in your birth experience. The last thing you want during such a time is to feel resentful or disappointed, so maybe it’s best to allow people the roles that are best suited for them. There are *no rules* about who should be present or what they should be doing."
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