As a mom-to-be, you're preparing for the big day. Soon you will get to meet and hold your new baby. Labor can be a very exciting time, but it can also be a very long — and sometimes tedious — process. Your support person plays a big role during labor, so we've gathered some tips to help guide them through the process.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to come into the delivery room prepared. Just like moms, there is plenty that dads can do in advance to get ready for the big day.
Tips for before labor
- Take a childbirth education class. The more you understand about what is happening, the less scary or strange the birth events will seem.
- Learn your partner's birth preferences. Some moms decide to write out a plan and give a copy to caregivers who will be present for the birth.
Pointers for the big day
- Provide lots of verbal encouragement. Laboring moms need to be told often that they're doing a good job, you're proud of them and this will all be over soon.
- Pack snacks and remember to eat. You'll need to keep your strength up if labor and delivery take hours and hours.
- Be aware of your hygiene. This includes your breath, body odor and wardrobe choice. Moms in labor are often very sensitive to smells. Pack breath mints, extra deodorant and a clean shirt.
- Wear comfortable clothing. You may be supporting mom for a long time, so try to dress as comfortably as possible. Always have a long-sleeved garment available to throw on in case the room is cold. Women in labor tend to get warm easily and may prefer cooler temperatures.
- Offer mom plenty of calming touches. Keep her as relaxed as possible by offering to massage her shoulders, hands or feet. Offer to assist your partner into comfortable positions where she can lean on you during contractions.
- Be your partner's advocate. As labor becomes more intense, be sure you are helping her to communicate her wishes and desires to her caregivers. Remember to ask questions if you do not understand a procedure or medical term.
- Focus all your attention on your partner. This means no staring at the TV screen, your phone or anything else that might make her feel like she's not the most important thing in the room.
How to avoid some of the major delivery room blunders
- Don't be easily offended. Sometimes moms say (or scream) things in the heat of the moment that they don't mean. She'll go back to her usual self after delivery — we promise.
- Don't be scared by the sight of a little bit of blood or other bodily fluids. Yes, you will see them. And yes, it is normal.
- Do not take a nap, ask to take a nap or talk about taking a nap. Unless there is more than one support person to stay with mom — such as a doula, relative or friend — then no one sleeps unless mom gets to sleep.
- Turn off the ringer on your cell phone. When the big moment arrives you don't suddenly want loud music or some other annoying call alert coming from your pocket.
- Don't forget your camera. You will want to document all the newborn baby cuteness once it arrives. Make sure the battery is charged and that you have plenty of space on the storage card.