Helping Your Partner Prepare for Labour
As the partner of an expectant mother, it’s easy to feel like you might be redundant to the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Yet this is a million miles from the truth. You are far from a spare wheel and what you do to help your partner prepare for labour is likely to have a huge impact on how the whole process proceeds.
Research has shown that mothers who have continuous support from a trusted partner throughout childbirth have lower levels of pain, reduced labour time and fewer medical interventions.(1) So even if you don’t know exactly what to do at all times, you should know that your presence and support is incredibly important.
In the weeks leading up to the birth
Just as your partner is working hard to physically nurture your baby, you should be working hard to support her. Here are some tips as you get closer to the big day.
Take antenatal classes together
By taking the time to learn about labour and childbirth with your partner, you can create a real spirit of togetherness. This will help your partner feel supported, strengthen your bond, create shared excitement about the birth and help you develop important knowledge about what is going to happen.
Turning up to classes is good, but paying close attention and actively engaging with the information you are being taught is even better – it will really help you in the long run.
Be open to discussion
It is vital that you discuss birthing options with your partner on an ongoing basis. By having these conversations well in advance, you can ensure that you are properly informed and are able to be your partner’s best advocate once she goes into labour. Get to know your partner’s birth plan and find out why she has made the choices she has included on it. After all, it may well become your responsibility to speak with obstetric staff to ensure that her wishes for labour are upheld as far as possible.
Take care of yourself
Now is a really good time to look after your own health. When your baby is born you will have disturbed nights and may become a little sleep deprived. Eat well and get in shape now so that you have extra energy reserves when baby arrives.
Stay in touch with your friends
When your baby is born you might find yourself temporarily moving to a place they call “Baby Island”. Life with a newborn could mean that you have little time, or indeed inclination to maintain your friendships in the early weeks and months.
If you tend to your friendships now, it should help ensure that you don’t lose touch post-birth. Also, it can be really helpful to have someone to speak to who can offer support in relation to your anxieties and concerns about the birth. Ultimately, this is what you need to be doing for your partner, so having a friend or family member who does the same for you can help you stay strong and able to give your partner the positivity and encouragement she needs.
Learn pregnancy and labour massage
Your partner’s body is holding and nurturing new life. Learn some pregnancy massage techniques to help her ease the physical burden. You can also prepare yourself for labour by learning some labour massage techniques.
Support your partner if she wants to see a doula
Supporting your partner in any steps she makes to further educate and empower herself in the lead up to childbirth should be considered as an essential.
Increasing numbers of women look to a doula for extra support on their pregnancy journey. Doulas are trained professionals who bring a holistic but non-medical view to the birthing process. They often assist with natural pain-relief techniques such as massage and deep breathing. They also have a broad understanding of the different birthing options available to mothers – a doula might really help you and your partner develop a birth plan with confidence.
Get ready for labour day
With your partner’s EDD rapidly approaching, here are a few tips for the big day itself.
Prepare some snacks
You should have snacks for labour to hand for both your partner and yourself. Labour can be a long process and it’s not always easy to find food stuffs you both like when you’re in the middle of contractions. It’s important not to let your partner’s (or your) blood sugar drop, so having a supply of healthy and sustaining snacks ready for the big day is a great tip.
Make sure that you pack some entertainment to take with you during labour. This is important for everyone, but particularly if your partner has had an epidural and is in danger of getting bored. A laptop or tablet and books, magazines and music are all great ways to provide distraction during labour.
Prepare to document the big day
We’re not suggesting you turn labour and childbirth into one long Instagram ready photo shoot, but if you have a camera to hand, a few memorable pictures taken at just the right times can prove invaluable – not just in the days and weeks after the birth but, eventually, many years and generations down the line.
Most midwives will be happy to take a snap of you, your partner, and your new baby after the birth and this can become a really treasured record of a wonderful moment. So, make sure you have enough charge in your phone battery or digital camera to make that picture a reality.
Remember the bag
Your partner will have packed a bag containing all the essentials, including her birth plan and medical notes. Your job is to remember this, or else. Make sure you know which bag she has used, where she has stored it, and whether there are any last minute additions she is intending to make, like a toothbrush or slippers.
Plan the journey to hospital
If you are having a hospital birth and do not drive, you will need to find a reputable taxi firm or a friend or family member who can come at short notice. In fact, you should arrange this even if you do drive as it is always prudent to have a back-up plan, and it will provide you and your partner with the reassurance that all bases have been covered.
If you intend to drive yourself, just make sure your car has plenty of fuel, the keys are to hand at all times and that you know the route well. (Yes, we know these are pretty obvious things, but when your new baby is imminently about to arrive in the world, you might just find that all your calmness dissolves.)
One last thing
As you get ready to become a parent, remember that there’s two of you in this and you will soon become three. It’s an adventure, it’s exciting and, above all, your journey should be a positive one. Stay focused on supporting your partner as she prepares and you will have done a great job.