Getting prepared to support your partner in labour is an important stage in your journey to parenthood. It’s essential that both parents are supported during this major life event. We want you have a positive experience of meeting your baby and connecting as a family. Supporting your partner during labour is a tall order! You are often there with many roles to fulfil, life partner, birth partner, and also baby’s parent. However, don’t fret, in this blog post we bring you top tips for nailing the job.
Support Yourself So That You Can Support Your Partner During Labour
So that you can be the best birth partner possible think about how you can best support your own needs. Start by thinking about your basic comfort. Make sure you pack drinks, food, and comfy clothes. Also include a little treat for yourself so maybe your favourite snack or new music download. Then consider your emotional needs. Labour and birth can be overwhelming so is there a friend or family member you can text or call for moral support on the big day? Maybe consider having a second birth partner, this may enable you both to have extra support. This could be a friend, relative or a doula.
Fetch and Carry
Your partner will have changing needs as the labour progresses. Think about being able to anticipate and meet those needs to maintain their wellbeing. They may get hot, thirsty, hungry, bored, exhausted… So think about how you can help with those things and what you need to take with you. Maybe write a list of essentials together but it may help you to take responsibility for packing the hospital bag. That way you where everything is. Top tips from previous birth partners include:
- Take some pillows from home for comfort
- A straw to enable mum to drink with ease
- A battery operated fan to help keep cool
The NCT have a great checklist of things to pack in the baby bag which may help you both decide what you need.
Know your Stuff
Talk to your partner about their thoughts and preferences for labour, birth, and early parenting – such as feeding choice. It may help you both to explore your options by attending antenatal classes. Or talk with your community midwife about drafting a birth plan.
To support your partner in labour you need to be able to communicate their preferences to the health care professionals. You can’t make decisions for your partner. But you can advocate for them and ask questions if options or interventions are suggested. By talking about the options and preparing ahead of time, you will have the information you need to best support your partner in labour.
Be Hands On to Support Your Partner in Labour
Many people find massage during labour can to help with pain. It can also help them to feel connected to their partner. And don’t forget, practice makes perfect! So try out your massage skills before the big day. Ask your partner for feedback and develop those skills ahead of the birth!
Using gravity and movement during labour can help get the baby into a good position for birth. It can also keep contractions effective, and labour on track. You can help your partner move into positions that support her to remain upright and comfortable.
Help Them Relax
Being relaxed in labour helps keep the right hormones for labour flowing (oxytocin) and keeps the wrong ones at bay. Being relaxed can also help reduce the pain of labour and promote a positive birth experience. Think about how your partner likes to relax now and see if you can incorporate that into your birthing environment. Some suggestions to help are:
- Dimming the lights
- Have relaxing background music
- A comfortable space to sit, or lie
- Having a bath
- Use breathing exercises, mindfulness or hypnosis
Just Be There to Support Your Partner in Labour
Thinking about being a birth partner can be daunting. But research shows that the most important thing to support your partner during labour is knowing that you are there. It’s ok to quietly sit in the room and take the lead from them on what is needed. You know your partner better than anyone else, if you think words of encouragement or love will help then speak them often. Also be available in the lead up to the big day. Your partner needs to feel confident that you are not too far away so you can get back to them in good time. Likewise, they need to know that you are going to answer the phone when they call! So don’t travel to far, and keep your phone on!
Protect the Post Birth Space
Your role doesn’t stop once the baby is born! Your partner will still need your support as they deliver the placenta, meets your baby, and offers them their first feed. You also need to plan how you want to meet your baby, are you planning to spend some time have skin to skin? Getting to know your new baby will be a wonderful time for you both. But you may also be exhausted and perhaps apprehensive. Discuss with your partner about when, where and who to have visiting you in the early days and weeks.
There will be lots of excitement about meeting your new baby from friends and family. So make sure to put your little family unit first. Only have visitors that you feel comfortable with and that will support you as you are navigating the early days with your baby. The best visitors are ones that will bring dinner and do some washing for you!
Take Time and Talk
You and your partner may feel a whole range of emotions around the birth and early postnatal days with your baby. This is normal and parents often say that being open about how you are feeling with your partner, and taking time for yourself regularly, are great strategies for managing this time. If you find that your emotions are becoming more negative or feel you are struggling with the transition to parenthood, talk to your partner. Or let a trusted friend, relative or health care practitioner know. You can also reach out to your friendly parenting support network – like us! We have a post telling us Why Its Essential That Dads Explore Mental Health, and another about Perinatal Mental Health Support, And Where To Get It.
Did You Enjoy This Post?
Are you a new dad, looking for information and support getting into this new adventure? We have so many great resources across this site, but we recommend you start with Why Its So Important To Have A Good Parent Community To Support Dads. It is a great post written by our founder Nigel Clarke explaining why we all need a friendly, supportive dad group, just like Dadvengers!
You can also check out the Dadvengers Podcast. So many great dads have shared their experiences of becoming parents, one you might enjoy is from Andy Day who shares a hilarious story of how he panicked during childbirth, and his experience of using hypnobirthing.