We all know what Mom’s job is during childbirth, but by offering support, dads play a crucial role. When labor happens, dads can feel overwhelmed and clueless about what to do and how to best help and support their partner when she needs help the most. So, how can you prepare for what’s bound to be a physically exhausting day for her and an emotional one for both of you?
Here is some advice for dads to help them be the perfect birth partner:
- Know what to expect during labor
One of the best ways to support your partner is to know what to expect during labor. When you know what to expect, you both will feel much more empowered and knowledgeable about what’s happening. It is highly recommended to go to a childbirth class with your partner. You will learn what is expected and not normal by taking a class or series of classes. You will also be able to help her every step of the way.
- Help her time her contractions.
You don’t need to time her contractions when she starts feeling them. You can start to time it when you recognize that they are becoming consistent, closer, and stronger. This will help you see how long and far apart they are.
Ensure she gets enough rest during early labor to have enough energy for active labor, transition, and pushing.
- Be an active participant and offer encouragement and distractions.
During early labor, remind your parents to stay hydrated and drink plenty of liquids. Hold her hand, help her focus on her breathing, massage her, help her change positions at least every hour, get her ice chips, take pictures or videos to remember this incredible moment, and tell her that she is doing a fantastic job and that you are so proud of her, and all the things she needs when she asks you. If she gets frustrated with you, don’t take it personally. She is going through something challenging and needs your support.
- Know and pay attention to what she wants and be her advocate
Talk to your partner about what she does and doesn’t want during labor and the baby’s birth. This is essentially discussing your birth plan. You are the one who needs to take charge as she may not be able to speak up for herself, so be ready to be assertive on her behalf. Be firm but respectful if you’re asking why an intervention is being made.
- Be flexible and be prepared.
You and your partner may have a certain way you want your baby to be born, but it’s ultimately up to your baby. In cases when your baby is breech or tangled in the umbilical cord, etc., things can change. If the baby is doing okay, you can try other things before resorting straight to a C-section. However, you need to be flexible with your plan and be prepared if changes occur.
- Give your all when she begins to push.
Support her body while she pushes and keeps mopping her face. Small gestures will keep your partner going.
- Thank her.
When it’s all over, and you’re holding your brand-new baby, be conscious of what your partner has just accomplished. She deserves recognition for making it through labor and delivery, not to mention nine months of pregnancy. Simple gestures like a loving note of appreciation, a kiss, or a small gift can go a long way.
Remember that you really need to be prepared for this moment. Before labor, talk to your partner. Ask what she wants, prepare all necessary things to be brought to the hospital, prepare your own bag, have a car seat ready and adequately installed, and practice changing a diaper.
During labor, you should remain calm; you should talk to your partner about anything and everything she wants to be done during labor, participate in the delivery, and cut the cord if you’re asked to.
Although it’s hard to watch a loved one endure pain, most dads can find the birth of their baby as one of life’s greatest moments. Prepare yourself, get in there, and be ready to help and support your partner in the best way possible! Oh, and one final thing, it’s okay to cry your eyes out. The day of your child’s birth is one of the most fantastic days of your life.