All About Labor Coaches
A labor coach is the person who is there with you for the duration of your labor, emotionally supporting you and cheering you on. Your labor coach attends childbirth education classes with you, and when it's time for labor, he or she goes to the birthing place with you and stays with you for the duration of your labor.
A Labor Coach's Duties
A labor coach has several functions during your labor:
- Keeping you focused on breathing techniques or other activities learned in your childbirth classes
- Offers you physical support by holding and comforting you
- Massages or puts direct pressure on your lower back to relieve back labor
- Offers you emotional support by urging you onward when your energy begins to drain or your contractions become a distraction.
- Helps you make decisions with your healthcare professional should complications arise, keeping in mind your birth plan and preferences.
- Stays with you while you give birth, maybe cutying the umbilical cord, and admiring your new baby.
- Helps get you settled after the birth and makes calls to family and friends
Choosing a Labor Coach
Most women choose their partners or husbands as their labor coaches, but other good choices include mothers, sisters, and best friends. Whomever you choose to be your labor coach, make sure it is someone who you are comfortable with and trust. Not only will this person be seeing the private, "gory details" of the birth, but they may also have to help make some last-minute important decisions regarding the birth proceedings. This person should not be squeamish when it comes to birth, and they should be well briefed on your concerns and preferences.
Make sure to ask your birth facility how many people will be allowed with you in the delivery room, and if there are any other types or restrictions. You may be allowed to have more than one labor coach, or a labor coach and a doula if you prefer.
Importance of a Labor Coach
Many hospitals encourage the use of a labor coach since it helps to alleviate the new mother's stress and it makes her feel more at home in a sometimes strange environment. It has also been demonstrated through research that having a familiar, supportive person there with the new mom giving birth can mean a shorter labor, less medications, and less compications.
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