As a mom-to-be or dad-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. As a support person for your expectant partner, you play a big role during labor, so we've gathered some tips to help guide you through.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to come into the delivery room prepared. There is plenty that partners can do in advance to get ready for the big day.
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Tips for partners 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.
- Help your partner pack her hospital bag. When the time comes, you'll be ready to grab it and go. Help select and pack a mix of necessities and comfort items for you, her and the new baby.
- Discuss your partner's birth preferences. Some expectant moms decide to write out a plan and give a copy to caregivers who will be present for the birth.
Partner pointers for the big day
- Be encouraging. Provide lots of verbal encouragement. It can be comforting for laboring moms to hear often that they're doing a good job, you're proud of them and this will all be over soon.
- Don't forget to eat. Pack snacks and remember that even amidst all the excitement, it's important to eat. You'll need to keep your strength up if labor and delivery take hours and hours.
- 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.
- Reach out. Offer your partner 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.
- Ask questions if you do not understand a procedure or medical term. You may wish to have a pencil and notebook nearby so that you can jot down new terms and tips you learn to ensure you remember them later.
- Support your partner's decisions, even if they end up differing from her birth plan. Childbirth can be unpredictable and it's OK for laboring moms to change their mind about things like pain relief.
Avoid some common delivery room partner blunders
- Try not to be easily offended. Sometimes moms say things in the heat of the moment that they don't mean.
- 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.
- Stay awake. Yes, it's a challenge during a long labor, but try to hold out on a nap until your partner can sleep, too. If you really need to catch a few z's, make sure another support person, like a doula or other caregiver, is present.
- Turn off the ringer on your cell phone. When the big moment arrives, you don't suddenly want loud music or some other call alert coming from your pocket. You'll also want to make sure to obey any rules the hospital has about cell phone use.
- Don't forget your camera. You will want to document your newborn baby's first moments once he or she arrives. Make sure the battery is charged and that you have plenty of space on the storage card.
Above all else, remember that you and your partner are in this together!