Prenatal Partner Presence – Stocking Your Tool Bag

By Mary Sinclair

I recently taught another prenatal partner workshop at Yoga on High. We had four couples participating. Of the pregnant students, all are currently enrolled in classes at Yoga on High, and they all brought their significant others with them to the workshop. Over the years I have found that some partners are eager to come and learn, and some show up with trepidation. They are usually worried they will be asked to do some elaborate and humiliating yoga pose. As the couples arrived I warmly welcomed them. I was surprised that one of my students was accompanied by her husband because she had told me she was bringing her mother. I looked at her husband and said, “You’re not her mother.” He said “no” and it looked like it took something for him to be there at all. Another husband shared that he kind of wanted to know more, but wasn’t quite sure he really wanted to know more.
There was definitely some anxiety looming in the air, as there usually is. The reality that a baby is coming is getting closer for each of these couples. And as if that isn’t enough to overwhelm them, there is the whole matter of getting through the labor and birth experience before the prize of meeting their baby for the first time! I can easily empathize with these couples. For that reason I try to keep it light and fun while at the same time educating them about some of the practicalities of labor and delivery as I’ve come to understand it. How can first time parents know how they’ll deal with the very real stresses involved in a baby’s birth, even if everything goes well? They can prepare, gather information and resources, take classes and write a birth plan. However, the first lesson they learn from me isn’t about positioning or “magic bullet” techniques for pain. It’s about the value of one’s presence.
As the partner practices staying centered in him or herself, they don’t really have to know how to massage, guide breathing or anything else. While these things can be helpful, the laboring woman might not want them at all. When a partner can simply remain close by and connected to her as a steady anchor of support amidst a flurry of emotional and physical distress, they are showing the value of companionship not conversation, empathy not answers.
At the end of the recent workshop, I checked in again with the couples, especially the husband who was digging in his heels a bit about coming.
“Are you glad you came today?” I asked.
“You have no idea”, he replied.
Mission accomplished.
Each couple seemed more relaxed and even refreshed. They also seemed lighter for they now had a better stocked tool bag and were freed, if just a little, from the burden of not knowing how to be an effective partner during child birth.
The next prenatal partner workshop at Yoga on High is coming soon! No yoga experience is necessary, all you need is a willingness to show up with your partner, just as you are, share some time together, and gather information and resources to fill your tool bag for the upcoming birth of your baby!

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One Response to Prenatal Partner Presence – Stocking Your Tool Bag
  1. Gail Larned

    Mares, I am inspired by your story and moved to offer to assist you next time ( if you’ll have me).
    I love pregnant moms and the whole process. Let’s talk. XO