While there once was a time when dads waited patiently to hear whether they now had a son or daughter, today’s family-focused birthing means dad is front and center for the pregnancy, labor and birth.

And the same holds true if you’re not a traditional couple or family—the person you call your partner has an important support role to play in conception, pregnancy and birth.

Be Prepared
Experts at Lamaze International recommend you join in the adventure with your pregnant pal as follows:
• Attend all prenatal appointments, as possible, with your partner—her healthcare provider will be preparing you both along the way with information.
• Take a childbirth class together—you’ll learn breathing, massage and other coping techniques that will help you help your partner through the waves of contractions that intensify as labor progresses. Your hands-on practice during class will help it feel more natural when you’re called to duty in the delivery room.
• Create your birth plan together—you are your partner’s best advocate when she can’t focus or remember exactly how she wanted things to go.
• Bring back-up—a labor support person, known as a doula, can be an incredible asset to you both. These skilled labor coaches know how to communicate effectively with healthcare providers and offer advice and suggestions based on their years of working with birthing couples.

Expect the unexpected
Talk with your partner long before labor and birth about each of your roles during labor and birth. Obviously mom is having the baby, but ask her where she wants you to be—near her head offering words of encouragement and support or waiting for baby to emerge and that first opportunity to hold him.

Decide how you will support mom—do you want to:
• Help ‘catch’ baby
• Cut the cord
• Hold baby immediately upon birth
• Accompany mom or baby if they have to be separated for any reason

Talking through the different scenarios before birth occurs will help you both be prepared for the amazing miracle of welcoming your baby into your lives.

Your Packing List—mom has her own—don’t forget your needs:
• Changes of clothes
• Toothbrush/paste
• Electronics: Everything from iPads and cell phones to video cameras and chargers
• Snacks: Avoid anything with strong smells or loud sounds
• Books or magazines
• Massage devices like a roller or relaxation ball

Author

Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, LCCE, is the founding editor of Healthy Mom&Baby, Senior Director of Partnerships & Publications at AWHONN, and a Lamaze-Certified Childbirth Educator.

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