How wonderful, what a privilege; they may be your first thoughts, followed by what do I do, how can I help, what if I panic?
You won’t! Your wife/partner/sister/daughter/friend has picked you because you’re the person to comfort them and make them feel safe, you can do that.
What can you do before baby arrives?
• Read, research, ask questions, find out what you can about birth
• Know what’s in the birth plan, understand what Mum wants
• Attend antenatal classes if you can
• Discuss what you will won’t do before hand, eg cutting the cord
• Pack some basics for yourself, comfortable shoes, a snack and water, perhaps a change of t-shirt and some money, including change for parking or vending machines
What can you do during labour?
• Be there in the early stages, keeping Mum company, ensure the room is calm, dim the lights or use candles if you want to
• Physical touch can help soothe, rub her back or shoulders, if she wants you to and cool her face with a wipe
• Remind her to breathe through the surges (contractions),not tense against them, it sometimes helps to have a focal point to concentrate on
• Offer water frequently, Mum needs to stay hydrated
• Acknowledge how she feels- ‘that was tough, you’re amazing’
• Don’t tell her it’s natural and women have been doing this for ever!
• Don’t be flicking through the baby book, this is her birth now, concentrate on that
• Support her, she may want to do something not on her birth plan, that’s ok
• Remind health professionals of what Mum wants, she might not be able to do that and you know her best. If Mum is mid contraction it’s ok to say, let’s wait and discuss this in a minute
• It’s ok to time contractions, but avoid counting the hours, it’s not helpful to Mum
What about after baby arrives?
• If you’re in charge of the drive home (if it’s a hospital birth) make sure you have a coat and some clothes for Mum and know how the car seat fits in
• Be mindful of how many visitors Mum wants and protect her privacy and rest period
• Be supportive and tell her how amazing she is, bring her food and drink and allow her to get to know her new born
• Share the babymoon experience together, don’t be in a rush to get back to day to day routines