How To Support Your Partner During Labor
When it comes to the labor and delivery of a baby, the mom is front and center! Labor and delivery is an empowering experience for mothers and something very personal. But that doesn’t mean that the partner cannot play a large role in making the experience even more positive. As a third time mama, I am thrilled that my husband will get to be by my side despite the obstacles of the pandemic. Having him with me for the births of our children has made all the difference, and there are so many ways that he helped me during delivery without even realizing. Each go around has been better than the time before, and I am so excited to see what this third labor will bring for me and my spouse. Here are some easy ideas to support your partner during labor and enjoy every second of bringing that sweet babe into the world!
Learn About Birth, And Especially Her Birth Plan
If this is your first baby, one of the best ways to be supportive is to learn what goes on at the birth. Attend appointments if possible and ask questions about what to expect or what to anticipate for your baby. Talk through the various options for delivery and what her (and your) vision is for what that time will look like. This includes asking questions during delivery as they come up, and feeling part of the process. Sometimes it is very helpful for the mom to focus solely on relaxation and breathing without dealing with all the medical components. This is a great role for you to play in ensuring things run smoothly without causing mom unnecessary worry.
Most importantly, if the mom has a birth plan, KNOW IT. Work on it with her, talk through the most important parts, and prepare to advocate for her if needed. I cannot express how incredibly helpful it was for my first delivery that my husband knew my wishes and made sure to support them throughout the entire experience. He was able to communicate with the nursing staff, talk with the doctor, and ensure that things progressed on par with our wishes. Examples of this could include who she wants (or does not want *cough cough* MIL) in the delivery room, whether she plans on using pain medication, or positions she prefers for labor. Birth plans are especially important to be in the right frame of mind for birth, and you do not want to be in the dark.
Learn Things to Say (Or Not Say)
Labor and delivery involves an incredible amount of emotion of all types. Some moms have extreme anxiety and fear and need a positive source of comfort during their experience. Have a conversation with your partner before her due date to see how she is feeling and what she is looking for with support. Some women struggle with body image or feeling uncomfortable with the staff during a hospital birth. Think of ways to alleviate her concerns and make her feel beautiful, powerful, and comfortable.
My request of my husband for our first birth: Do not complain during the actual birth. About anything. I knew I was going to feel overwhelmed by everything happening, and worrying about his comfort was not something I wanted to focus on.
Be As Prepared As Possible
This applies to ALL THE THINGS. Are you prepared for care of any existing children? Are your work plans ready and communicated so that you can leave right away if needed? Do you know where to park at the hospital? Do you have items packed for yourself for the hospital stay if needed? As soon as that baby is making its way out, the focus shifts to mom and baby. All the little extraneous details will be extra stressful, so take care of as much as possible ahead of time.
Support With the Logistics
Every mom needs something different during labor, and every pregnancy is different. Some of the logistical items like food, water, and comfort can be a great support place for you as a partner.
Cold water bottle and ice chips. Protein bars or snacks. Calming music. Help her use the bathroom. Massage her back or her feet or do not touch her at all depending on what works for her. These are the little things, that make a big difference! I never expected to have to pee as many times as I did while in labor with my first, and having my husband help me walk to the bathroom during every contraction was life-saving! To support your partner, you need to communicate and understand what they need during labor as things change rapidly!
Support For Baby
Once the baby is here, all the above items still apply to mom and now to baby too! Are you planning to cut the cord? Do you want to “catch” the baby? Will the baby stay with you in the room if possible or do you plan on following the baby for any testing? Do you plan to do skin to skin? All things are possible in the whirlwind of those first precious moments with baby and you want to be sure to soak it all in! You are now there to support the mom and the newest bundle, so feeling prepared can make things smoother.
To Be Supportive, Be Present
Above all else, this is the moment! When it comes to support for your partner during labor, being present is crucial. Regardless of the current environment or what is happening in the world, a new human is arriving soon and that moment is everything! Be present for this time because you will never get it back. Keep electronics away and focus on all the things happening. Communicate only with family and loved ones once you and mom are ready to do so. Take pictures or video if mom (and you!) are comfortable.
Even though I am preparing for my third delivery, only my husband and I are present at each birth. That time with just us (and the occasional nurse) is beyond special. Time for us as spouses. Time for us becoming parents for the first, second, and now third time together. Doing something this big as a team makes all the difference in the postpartum period and beyond. Good luck on your journey and all the things that lie ahead for you!
All the best,