When my husband and I first got engaged in 2009 we were introduced to a book by Dr. Gary Chapman. He came up with a theory that there are five "love languages" that a lot of people can resonate with. The love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Each person has a main language and then a secondary language. For example, if your main love language is receiving gifts, then you might feel most loved and appreciated when given a small but thoughtful gift. However if your main love language is words of affirmation, you will feel most loved and seen when told that the meal you cooked was amazing.
If you haven't yet taken The Five Love Languages quiz, I highly recommend it! Learning your love language and your partner's love language can make a big impact on birth, postpartum, and your relationship as a whole. So lets dive in!
We have taken the 5 love languages and interpreted them as they would apply to birth.
1. Words of Affirmation
According to Dr. Chapman, this love language uses words to affirm other people. For someone who prefers this language, hearing statements in birth like the following can be really powerful:
"You are doing amazing!"
"That is just how to push, You’re really moving your baby down!”
"You are working so hard to meet your baby!"
In early postpartum, statements like the following can really boost a mother's confidence (written in notes in places around the house would be a wonderful way to speak this language!):
"You are really doing such a great job feeding your baby"
"You are such a wonderful mother. (Baby's name) is so lucky to have you!"
"Caring for a baby is such hard work, but you are NAILING it!"
2. Quality time
With this language, it is less about what you say, and more about where your focus lies. If the labouring mother speaks the love language of quality time, she prefers cell phones put away and all focus on her. If you follow this language for her labour and birth, she will always remember feeling completely supported and nurtured. She may enjoy a game of cards during down time, or conversations bringing her down memory lane in between contractions.
In the early postpartum, she wants you around. She wants to share this precious time together as a family. If she is struggling, she will need you there to vent to and let her process her emotions. She needs to feel that she is your top priority.
3. Receiving gifts
For some people, what makes them feel the most loved is to receive a meaningful or thoughtful gift. This one isn’t the easiest to do when someone is in labour however it isn’t impossible. In birth, maybe the gift can be a small framed photograph of a wonderful trip or memory that she can focus on when contractions get more intense. Or maybe writing a letter to the mother to read once the baby is born, expressing how beautifully strong she is to have been able to bring your baby earth-side.
In the early postpartum, surprise her with sushi from her favourite restaurant, or a piece of jewelry to commemorate the occasion of welcoming a new member of the family.
4. Acts of Service
For this labouring mother, actions speak louder than words. Make sure the hospital bag is packed and ready to go in the car. During early labor, do that final load of laundry from start to finish so it is one less chore to come home to. While at the hospital, make sure her phone is charged and anything she needs is easily accessible. When she asks for a favour, complete the
task without hesitation or complaint. She wants to know her needs are being met without her having to ask for it,
In the early postpartum, acts of service can be anything that helps the household running smoothly as mom figures out how to feed the new baby and settles into routine. Make sure she has fresh water and snacks to keep her nourished throughout the day.
5. Physical Touch
Physical touch in labour is helpful for many people, but for the labouring mother who has this as a primary love language, it is essential. Not just counter pressure to ease labour pains, but soft massage on her arms, shoulders, head and feet can be soothing and just the right thing to keep her relaxed between contractions. If mom has an epidural she might really love to hold hands or have her hair stroked while she rests. It can help reaffirm your relationship with her while she faces the most intense and intimate experience of her life.
While new mothers don't tend to be interested in intimate touch, everyday physical contact like hand-holding, kissing, or any reaffirming physical contact can really help her feel safe and loved in a time that can be filled with turmoil and insecurity.
As your birth doula, it is helpful to know what your primary love language is so that I may best support you in a way that speaks to your unique style. I enjoy tailoring my services to suit your individual needs. This is part of what makes my job so enjoyable! Every client is different in how they interpret love.