While you’re the one in labour, your partner still has an important role to play at the birth. So what should a dad-to-be do?
“Don’t feel that you have to always be doing something to help – just being there and being calm and positive can make a huge difference,” midwife Janine from Birth Basics advises dads. “Women who labour alone can feel vulnerable, but simply having their partner in the room might be all they need.”
Be prepared for labour
“Most babies are born anytime between 37 to 42 weeks, so to prepare, dads can write all vital contact numbers down,” says midwife and Pamper Parenting Village Expert Panel Mary Steen.
This is also a good time to help pack the hospital bag, too, and for dads-to-be to pack a bag of essentials for themselves also.
“Make sure your partner has a bag ready with everything she’ll need. Get her to write a list of the essentials so you can get them all packed up in time without any stress or panic,” midwife Mary suggests to dads.
Mum and forum user KB found this extremely useful when she went into labour unexpectedly. “My other half went around the house and made a list of all the things I might need. Everything was washed and put into the spare room ready for the moment. When it happened, it was a little sudden, but my partner packed everything in a flash so I didn’t have to worry. A simple thing but it really put my mind at ease.”
In a dad-to-be’s hospital bag, ideal things to pack are food, toiletries, change of clothes. It means there’ll be no need to run home and he can he there for you at the birth at all times, explains midwife Janine.
Sometimes, even the best prep can go out of the window, and dads can really step up. “My husband was amazing when our daughter decided to make a quick entrance at home. He stayed calm, called the ambulance. He spent the whole time organising things, answering constant phone calls from the hospital and keeping me calm,” says mums Jennifer James.
Stay calm during labour
Midwife Mary says dads-to-be need to help their partner remain calm and focused. “Reassure her and use positive language to motivate her,” she advises men.
“My hubby was great, attentive and encouraging the whole time. My midwife said we made a good team!” says mum Deborah Osborne-Walker.
“My partner held my hand tightly throughout the whole thing and whispered lightly into my ear how great I was doing and how proud he was of me. Corny as it sounds, it was really soothing and reassuring. I think if he stood there shouting at me to push, I’d have lost it!” explains mum LuluP.
Get hands-on during labour
On a more practical note, dads-to-be do have important jobs they can take responsibility for. “Run her a bath when the pain starts to get bad,” says midwife Mary advises dads. “Add some lavender oil as this is soothing and aids relaxation.
“My partner ran a bath for me as I had been really sick, which was lovely. He was also on hand with the sick bowl and water at all times! He was amazing,” says mum Jennifer O’Brien.
When your labour gets going, there are many other things your parnter can do to take a more hands-on approach. “Match her mood and respond to her needs,” says midwife Janine to dads. “Help her change position, make sure she drinks plenty of water, give her plenty of cuddles and reassurance.”
“My husband was amazing. He realised that my ‘needing the toilet’ was me needing to push,” says mum Tricia Clark. “He also overheard the midwives say that I would need forceps if I didn't get my baby out in the next two pushes - I was too high on gas and air to hear anything at that point - so he told me that I had to push now as he knew it was important to me.”
“My hubby conveyed all my wishes to the midwife when I couldn’t. He held my hand all the way through and kept my head from banging on the birth pool taps! He’s the best,” says mum Jennifer Dixon.
Use skills learnt in antenatal classes
“Sometimes women hold their breath during contractions but this can make the contractions harder to deal with,” explains midwife Janine. She says that if dads-to-be want to get their partner’s to slow their breathing and stay calm, they should breathe deep and get them to copy.
“I kept holding my breath not knowing I was doing it. But my partner constantly told me to take deep breaths and seeing him do it, made me subconsciously copy him! It definitely helped. Sometimes all you’ve learnt beforehand goes out of the window when labour starts. You need someone there who’ll remind you,” shares mum SimB.
Most importantly, embrace the moment. Each birth is a unique experience for everyone, so treasure the memories. “I’ll never forget my husband’s face when they pulled our baby out after a C-section. He said with amazement, ‘Oh my god he’s here’” says mum KellyC.