You might find it difficult to watch your partner if she is in pain, but there are plenty of things you can do to support her through the birth.
Here are our top tips on how to be the best birth partner you can during what will undoubtedly be one of the most amazing moments in both your lives.
1. Respect what your partner wants
- Make sure you have talked about the birth beforehand.
- Find out what she wants to happen and also if there is anything she definitely does not want.
- If she has made a birth plan, go through it with her before labour starts.
2. What to expect
- Go along to the antenatal classes and appointments and ask any questions you might have about labour, birth and becoming a father.
- It will help you to be calm and supportive during labour if you know the basics about labour, birth and caring for your baby when she is born.
3. Keep an open mind
- Be prepared for the birth plan to change at the last minute. Your partner might decide she doesn’t want a massage, that the birth pool wasn’t such a good idea or that she is coping without pain relief.
4. Know your limits
- There can be a lot happening during the birth and there might be several people in the room. Be prepared for this.
- There will be a midwife looking after your partner. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or find out how you can be involved. There is no such thing as a stupid question.
- Be aware of what you are comfortable with. For example, the midwife might ask if you want to cut the umbilical cord after your baby is born. This is entirely your decision. If you don’t want to do it, that’s ok. Remember, though, you may get caught up in the moment and change your mind. But that’s ok too!
5. Be your partner’s biggest supporter
- You are there to be your partner’s biggest supporter so give her lots of encouragement and affection. This will help her to cope with the contractions and manage pain.
6. Be prepared to make some important decisions
- Be ready to step in to help your partner. If decisions need to be made during labour and she is unable to think clearly, you can still let the staff caring for her know about her wishes. You are her advocate.
7. Be prepared to wait
- Your partner could be in early labour for a long time before you even go to the hospital. Labour can also take a while once you’re in hospital.
8. Say hello to your baby
- Right from the start you should hold, cuddle and talk to your baby. Say hello and introduce yourself, it’s the first time you’ve met!
- Your voices are the only familiar things in this strange new world. The sound of your voice will reassure and comfort your baby.
- Enjoy skin-to-skin, plenty of cuddles and getting to know your baby.