If your partner is pregnant, you may be wondering how you can avoid being useless when it comes to labour and delivery. In reality, you are your partner’s biggest comfort and protector. Nobody can make her feel safer and more reassured than you can.
Here are some of the many ways you can support your partner during labour and delivery. For ideas on how to support her throughout pregnancy, see our blog post How To Support Your Partner During Pregnancy.
Benefits of skin-to-skin contact
There are plenty of practical tasks which are important for labour, however, your partner may not be in the right headspace to remember everything. Take control of whatever you can. Here are some examples:
- Plan the route to the hospital.
- Install the car seat a few weeks before the due date.
- Make sure the bags are in the car.
- Make a checklist of all the documents, medications etc that need to be packed and check them off on the way out the door.
- If you have other children, arrange their care ahead of time and call the babysitter once the time comes.
- If you have pets, organise their care.
- Keep friends and family updated.
Educate yourself about the process
When you call the hospital, they’ll ask you questions to try to determine whether your partner is in labour or not. Keep updated on the process. Has your partner lost their mucus plug? Are the contractions regular? How far apart are the contractions? Are her waters leaking? Keeping yourself in the loop will prevent lots of “eh, I don’t know I’ll ask her” which will ultimately just frustrate your partner.
Pack a bag
Bring a bag with things that will help you remain comfortable while at the hospital. Pack things like a change of clothes, toiletries, snacks and your phone charger. Your partner doesn’t want to listen to you complaining about being stuck in your uncomfortable jeans – read the room!
Time the contractions
There are lots of great apps for keeping track of contractions, or you can just keep a note with a pen and paper. This is an easy task that will be greatly important once you get to the hospital. If you’re actively recording the length and time of contractions then there’s one less thing for your partner to think of. This frees up her mind to get through the contraction calmly.
Have realistic expectations
If this is your partner’s first baby, it’s not unusual for labour to last 12 hours. With all the excitement of arriving at the hospital, you may find it anticlimactic when there’s no sign of baby. Appearing impatient or bored will only frustrate your partner.
Your role as a support person is incredibly important to your partner’s labour experience. Studies show that women with calm and consistent support actually experience less pain than those who have a disengaged or stressed support person. You could be experiencing a whole host of emotions right now, but any negative emotions like worry or stress will need to be pushed aside for now.
Be your partner’s advocate
Does she have a birth plan? If so, do you know what’s on it? What aspects of the birth plan are most important to her? Your partner may not be feeling very assertive during labour, so it will be reassuring for her to know that you are advocating for her wishes. For example, if her birth plan states that she would not like to be induced, but the midwife is discussing “speeding up labour” then make sure to ask questions. These questions do not need to be confrontational, you’re simply probing further on behalf of your partner. You could ask things like “is there an alternative to the treatments you’re suggesting?” “What are the risks/benefits of this treatment?”.
Don’t take anything personally
Maybe the nurses are excluding you from the process, or your partner has snapped at you. It’s not personal, so don’t take it that way. Everyone’s number one priority is the safety of your baby and your partner – so there may be several moments where you feel forgotten, ignored or unimportant. However, as we mentioned before, you’re an incredibly important part of your partner’s journey through labour. Be forgiving of the situation and show your partner that you’re there for them by sitting back patiently when required.
Giving birth can look frightening. If you’re squeamish, don’t look down. Just stay at your partner’s head, offering words of encouragement and wait with her to see the baby handed over by the midwife. The baby will be wiped down by the midwife but will still be covered in a cheesy white substance (called the vernix caseosa – it helps your baby’s skin adapt to the outside world) so don’t expect them to be beautifully clean and pink! Also, once the baby is delivered, the placenta needs to be delivered too. This is about the size of a dinner plate and will come out with blood. Just know that this is normal and nothing to be worried about. Shouting “oh my God what is that?!” isn’t very reassuring for your partner.
Show your appreciation
After nine long months of pregnancy, your partner is delivering your baby. Make sure to take time to reflect on how much it means to you to have this new little person in your life and how much you love your partner for giving you this gift. Some partners show appreciation with “push presents”. It doesn’t need to be flashy, it can be something simple but sentimental. Your partner will be so happy to feel appreciated and loved as you both marvel at the beautiful new baby you have together.