Pregnancy and childbirth is a stressful time for a woman and can be overwhelming and scary, especially for first-time mothers. Your presence provides much-needed comfort and support. But just being there isn’t enough.
Fathers can and should play an important role in the birthing process too—so read on to find out exactly how and when to help.
Expecting Fathers: 6 Tips To Be the Perfect Birth Partner
Here’s a guide for expectant dads explaining how to support their wives during the various stages of labor, all the way through delivery.
1. Plan Ahead
Attend antenatal classes with your partner so you know what happens during labor and what to do when the time comes. In the days before your baby’s due, keep a bag packed for the hospital, including all the essentials—change of clothes, toiletries, water, and the birth plan.
2. Take Charge
Only you and your wife know what you both want, but she might not be in the right frame of mind to make crucial decisions. She will have to rely on you to put her wishes forward or she may change her mind about what she wants. You need to be ready to step in with some decisive action and instruct the doctor and the midwife on what to do.
3. Be Aware Of Her Needs
Don’t wait until your partner is in the middle of labor to find out what kind of assistance she’d like. Discuss birth preferences with your wife, if you haven’t already. Most pregnant women will have a written birth plan and even if she doesn’t, talk to her about it. Does anything scare or frighten her? What are her concerns? What would she like to happen at birth? Check with her regularly because her preferences might change as her pregnancy progresses.
During labor, keep an eye out for signals and watch her body language. If she puts her hands on her back, she may have a backache—give her a gentle massage or ask how you could assist her.
4. Create The Right Environment
In her birth plan, your wife might have specified certain things she would like around her. This could be certain music, dimmed lights, a particular fragrance, or even a favorite soft toy to clutch on. During early labor, it’s easy to keep these things ready but make sure to follow up later. These little things do matter.
5. Be A One-Man Support Team When The Contractions Begin
There may be a lot of experienced people around to help your wife but you will be your partner’s most important support. Instead of sympathizing with her, especially when her contractions start, offer encouragement. You will be her only support and will have to do as much as you can—bringing her food, massaging her feet, giving her water, or talking to the doctors/nurses/ midwife. Giving birth is a long, painful process. Your job is to distract your partner, guide her through the birthing process (those birthing classes will help here) and keep her energy and concentration levels up.
6. Provide Much Needed Comfort and Support
Once the baby is born, most of the attention shifts to the baby to make sure the mother is cared for too. She will still have contractions, will still have to eliminate the placenta and would be in pain and exhausted. Give her a drink, wipe her face, soothe her, feed her and make sure she is comfortable. Do something special to mark the occasion—bring her flowers, buy her favorite chocolates, write her a note, or get her favorite food.