Non-verbal Communication

Birthing women tend to enter “birth brain” while focusing during labor–this is a more primal, instinctive, intuitive, primitive part of their brain and it tends to be fairly nonverbal. I often remind fathers-to-be in my classes not to ask their partners too many questions while they focus on birthing, because questions pull women out of “birth brain” and into the more analytical, rational side of the brain that we use in day-to-day life (this “thinking” brain is not as useful during labor!) Instead, I encourage birth partners to just “do” and then pay attention to the woman’s nonverbal cues (or short, verbal cues) about whether to keep it up–an example I often use is with giving her a drink of water or juice. Instead of asking, “do you want another drink?” Just hold the straw up to her lips! If she is thirsty, she will drink, and if she is not she won’t. No words need to be exchanged. Other reactions might be that she might push the drink away, say “no,” or shake her head.

As I referenced in a prior post, I recently finished reading through The Pink Kit. It has some more related thoughts to add:

Childbirth is such intense work that sometimes a woman just can’t get a full sentence (or even a short one) out of her mouth. You can’t read her mind. However, it’s not too difficult to read her body language…During labour, it will be easier for her to push your hand away, say ‘shhhh,’ grab you and hold on, or put your hand on some part of her body, than to talk. Often a woman can THINK something so loudly, she’s certain she’s said it aloud.”

4 thoughts on “Non-verbal Communication

  1. Apparently I said some stuff aloud that I thought I was just thinking. I was telling my doula a week after the birth about what I had been thinking and she said, “Yeah, I remember when you said that.”

    Oops. I wasn’t a big fan of one of the birth center midwives. I guess it showed.

    The Pink Kit sounds really interesting. Thanks for all of hte posts about it.

    • Jill–I think that is common too. I should add that to my post 🙂 I’m interested by how acute my own hearing felt to me during my births–I think women can appear so deeply “internal” during labor that people forget that they can hear perfectly well (and maybe even better than usual!). With my first baby, I heard things people said through doorways and down halls (when they didn’t know I could hear them). The Pink Kit is interesting. I have more to share about it, but lack the time to do so! Maybe soon…

  2. Pingback: surfing for pregnancy posts and finding the 7 best « birthing with guinever

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