Advice and support for partners
Whoever you are – the baby’s father, a close friend, or a relative – there are quite a few practical things that you can do to help during labour, although probably none of them are as important as just being there. You can’t know in advance what your labour is going to be like or how each of you will cope, but there are many ways in which someone can help. You can also provide support before the labour stage for example, by helping to pack the hospital bag, ensuring that you have enough change for parking and vending machines. You might also want to think about what to bring for yourself such as food, drinks and light clothing as labour rooms are often warm.
- Keep your partner company and help pass the time in the early stages.
- Hold her hand, wipe her face, give her sips of water, massage her back and shoulders, help her move about or change position, or anything else that helps.
- Comfort her as her labour progresses and her contractions get stronger.
- Remind her how to use relaxation and breathing techniques, perhaps breathing with you if it helps.
- Support her decisions about, for example, pain relief.
- Help her make it clear to the midwife or doctor what she needs – and the other way round – which can help you feel much more in control of the situation.
- As the baby is being born, tell her what is happening, because she can’t see for herself what is going on.
For very many couples, being together during labour and welcoming their baby together is an experience that they can’t begin to put into words. And many fathers who have seen their baby being born and who have played a part themselves say they feel much closer to the child from the very start.