Following from Part One
Well, 25 days until Jamin’s little man is due to make his entrance into the world.
From what I can gather my friend has done a good job of being the best expectant father he c an be during the pregnancy stage (although admittedly, I do mostly only hear his side….).
So what’s next? Oh, just the small matter of labour and birth. I’ve heard of some Daddy’s to be saying ‘Well, this isn’t my area, there’s nothing I can do here, afterwards is when I need to step up’ but this is soooo not the case. So what can you do to be a good birth partner?
Knowledge is Power
I appreciate that this is not the approach that lots of couples take, but if your partner is reading up on the birth then you should probably do some swotting of your own. Personally, I’m a big advocate of the ‘forewarned is forearmed’ method, especially when it comes to labour and birth. The things a woman’s body goes through in order to deliver a baby are unbelievable and in my opinion, the more you understand about what is going on inside, the better able you are to support your partner.
It’s not just what’s going on inside your partner’s body that is handy to know. You will hear an awful lot of new medical terminology during your baby’s birth that you haven’t heard before and in the heat of the moment you may not feel comfortable asking what an episiotomy is or there may not be time to ask. If you understand what’s going on, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed and therefore better placed to fully support your partner.
Also, reading up helps to manage your own expectations about the birth and may stop you from saying something infuriating to your partner like “Wow, does it usually take this long?”!!
Get to grips with the Birth Plan
If your partner has one, you should make sure that you get her to talk the birth plan through with you or even better, write it up together. In the middle of labour your partner is unlikely to want to remind you of everything on the plan and most of the time she will probably be unable to. If she is unable to communicate with you then it’s probable that the same will apply to the midwife so you may need to be the one that does the majority of talking with the midwife about your partners wishes. It may sound like a minor detail, but helping your partner out in this way can make a big difference during labour.
Become saintly patient!
When I walked into the delivery room, my midwife said to me ‘Leave your bags and your dignity at the door!’ At this point, it would seem that as I was leaving those things, my husband was stocking up on his patience levels!! And you’ll need to too. Labour will test your partner even if she is usually the most relaxed person you could ever meet and you are likely to bear the brunt of that. I surprised myself, as usually I am not relaxed in the slightest and anticipated myself being a nightmare during labour but I wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’d thought I would be so it could be that you have a pleasant surprise but even so, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared!
Take an Active Role
Try to remember that whilst your partner is the one labouring, it is your baby too and you should try to be as involved as your partner wishes you to be. Don’t be scared to ask the midwife if there’s anything you can help with and let her know if there’s anything specific you’d like to do. If your partner complains of a bad back, make suggestions and try and help to ease her pain. You might get your head bitten off but ultimately your partner will appreciate you trying to care for her. If she wants something, get it for her. If she asks you to do something for her, do it. Remember that she’s asking you because she can’t actually get it or do it herself so she really needs you to step up and be there for her.
Respect her Wishes
Labour isn’t the time to try to wind your partner up, she won’t appreciate it, it won’t help and it will end up making her labour worse. This isn’t to say you can’t be your normal self, my husband is quite a winder upper himself but during my labour he didn’t push me too far. If your partner says she doesn’t want her photo taking, don’t take it. If she asks you not to do something, don’t do it. It may seem like you’re pandering to her but frankly, you should, she’s having a baby!!!!!
Of course, during labour you will need to think about yourself at times. But just be sure to take care with your decisions. If your partner is feeling nauseous or she isn’t allowed to eat, it might not be the kindest thing to eat in front of her. Similarly, your partner may not appreciate you complaining about a headache whilst she is attempting to labour!!!
Encourage and Support
You will be your partners main one to one support during labour. Of course your midwife will be there to oversee but they will have numerous other women labouring at the same time so it is only you who will be present with your partner for every minute of her labour. And who better to do it? Admittedly you may not have medical knowledge but arguably you have something a whole load more valuable. Knowledge of your partner. You will know best how to comfort her and how to encourage her effectively and therefore your support could easily be the difference between a good and bad labour and birth, this was certainly the case for me.
This isn’t stating the obvious. One thing that blew my mind during my labour was how in tune my husband was with how I was doing. Toward the very late stages of my labour, I couldn’t bear being my midwife checking me during contractions and I remember at one point the midwife saying “After that contraction, I’m going to check your baby’s heartbeat.” After a minute or two, she said ‘Ok? Can I check now?’ I said she could and my husband interrupted and said that my contraction wasn’t over and he was right. He knew because he had been watching and listening carefully right the way through my labour and was fully aware of how I was doing at any given moment. This was priceless for me because by doing this, he was able to pre-empt when was a good time to offer me a drink or when I might just need him to be quiet for a few minutes to concentrate on getting through the contraction.
Every woman will handle labour differently but no one is better placed to understand how your partner needs to get through it than you. So put your phone down and focus on your partner!!
In conclusion, the role that you play in the birth of your baby may not be as essential to that of your partners. But to your partner, the way that you step up during this time can make or break her labour. Honestly, it wasn’t something that I’d given much thought to before I gave birth, but now I know how important a role hubchin played during the birth of our little girlie and it’s not to be underestimated. There’s not a chance my labour and birth would have been even a fraction of the calm and positive experience that it was without him. Good Job Hubchin.
And so Jamin and all the other Daddy’s to be…. Now it’s your time to shine…..
Third and Final Part Coming Soon.