Labor can be overwhelming, intense and empowering. As a partner to a pregnant woman, your job is to provide encouragement and support throughout the journey.
Your partner will look to you for comfort and strength as they go through the transition of becoming a mother. You may wonder, what can I do to be supportive during labor?
Making sure you understand what you can do to be prepared before birth, how to properly support your partner in labor and what not to do during labor is key to becoming a good birth partner.
In this article, you will learn all the different tools to help you support your partner throughout her pregnancy journey. Let's get to work!
Things to Do before the Baby Comes
Do your homework, especially if this is your first time pregnant. Having checklists for each trimester can be a helpful tool to cover logistics of what you need to do before the baby comes.
Start by checking in with your healthcare provider to confirm your pregnancy. In your second trimester, sign up for a childbirth class and breastfeeding class to know the stages of labor and what to expect during the birth process. Most hospitals and birth centers offer these, but there are also great online birth classes that might fit your schedule better.
During this time, it is also a great idea to connect with and find a doula for extra labor support and guidance. Your third trimester checklist should consist of discussing your birth plan, choosing a pediatrician, packing your hospital bag and wrapping up things at work.
Additionally, having a solid postpartum plan in place will help you feel prepared during the transition into your home as a new family. Focus on meal trains and dedicating household chores to friends and family.
Lastly, you want to make sure your hospital bag is packed prior to your departure for the hospital or birth center. Use this article as a reference for all of your packing essentials and needs.
Preparation can help improve the birth experience
What does your birth experience look like to you? Knowing your birth plan, goals and overall vision is a great way to improve the birth experience. One may choose to birth in a hospital with an obstetrician or a midwife, or opt for a birth center or homebirth. Adding a doula to your birth team can help you decide which is the best birth environment for you.
There are many different options of what is available to you during labor, so having an idea of what you favor can be a helpful tool in creating a positive experience. For example, knowing the different pain relief methods (ex. epidural vs nitrous oxide) in your birth environment of choice will help you formulate your preferences.
Being informed of your hospital’s policies and protocols will help you and your support person make informed decisions together if interventions are needed. Ask questions so you can advocate for your partner when it comes to medical advice.
Childbirth education classes will teach you how to recognize the onset of labor and how to time contractions. These tools will help you know when it is time for you to head to your chosen birth environment.
Tips on how to be a supportive birth partner
Giving birth is a journey through three different stages of labor and knowing your role during each stage will be beneficial.
- Early labor can be pretty mellow, so create a calm and safe space. Make sure your laboring partner is well rested, well fed (ice chips if requires liquids only) and get the good vibes going during the early stages.
- The second stage of labor, active labor is typically where the hard work comes in. Provide encouraging words such as, “I am so proud of you, you can do it.”, or “each contraction gets us closer to meeting our baby.”
- In case of a long labor, enthusiastic encouragement is key. Encouraging your loved one to sleep in between contractions, to go for a walk, change positions and to take a shower or bath will help her progress and keep her feeling supportive.
Additionally, there are plenty of relaxation techniques such as the use of aromatherapy, creating a soothing playlist and deep breathing. And in case of a lower back labor, lots of counter pressure, use of a birth ball and reminding her to take one contraction at a time can be helpful.
It is also crucial to take good care of yourself so you can take care of your partner. Eat, hydrate, and get some fresh air.
Things to stay clear from as a birth partner: staying out late as the due date nears, leaving everything for the last minute, getting very up-close and personal and ordering Chipotle to the delivery room (unless requested).
Capture the moment. Remember your goals for labor and you will make a great birth partner.
Postpartum: Taking Care of your Partner and Baby
Be ready to jump in immediately after delivery of your new baby and once the placenta is delivered. If you are planning on cutting the umbilical cord, now is the time.
Help your partner ease into her transition as a new mom as comfortably as possible. Get her something nutritious and delicious to eat and drink and have the bag ready at all times. Be ready to help with breastfeeding. If mom had a c-section, know that you are her pair of hands after your baby’s birth.
Offer to do skin to skin with the baby to give your partner a chance to rest. Birth takes a huge toll on the body and rest is essential for recovery. Provide assistance by filling out and checking all of the appropriate paperwork and protect your partner’s opportunity to rest by keeping family and friends controlled during visits.
Transitioning into your home as a new family
Prior to leaving the hospital, you are responsible for the car seat check to ensure safety for your new baby. Learn how to properly install the car seat in advance to avoid any issues the day-of. Having everything set up at home and in the car will help the transition out of the hospital and into your new home.
Take care of all household chores such as cooking, cleaning and laundry. Offer to take shifts so that your partner can sleep.
Arrange for a meal train or food delivery so she does not have to worry about food. Establish boundaries for family and friends. Most importantly, pamper her with massages, pedicures and more.
Birth is a major life event, and you may feel helpless thinking how to comfort your partner in labor. Supporting your partner throughout the journey can be a big responsibility, but there are a number of things you can do as her partner to better her overall experience.
Being prepared with checklists, having a birth plan, knowing what not to do during labor and how to care for your partner in postpartum and into your new home will help achieve an awesome birth experience. Remember, you are there to provide support to ease both of your experiences.