Labour tips for partners
This was written by my client to her husband and I found it so beautiful - like a love letter! I think most dads-to-be would find it useful to recieve a letter like this before the birth of their child. Sometimes women find it hard to explain what they want or need and men don't find the right questions or answers. So dads - if there is one thing that you will read in preparation to support your wife during pregnancy, birth and afterwards, please read this letter.
Labour tips for my husband
Be prepared (a bit!)
Learn a few of the key points such as what a cervix is and what it does, the names for various key anatomy and procedures such as forceps or ventouse (most of this should come up during NCT classes but if you are unsure take a look online, in a book or ask Vaida and maybe get together a little list) so that when doctors say it on the day you know what they are talking about. If you need to ask me it will worry me that you don’t know what’s going on and I have to explain mid-labour.
Pack a bag for yourself
I love you very much but when you are tired/hungry you are not able to support me as I need. Don’t be humble or think you are putting me first by not looking after yourself – labour can last anything between a few hours and a few days, I need you firing on all cylinders as much as possible so bring everything you need for a few days just in case; clothes, snacks, a book, phone charger etc and when you can rest/eat take time away do. Take some slow breaths, relax your mind and body and come back to me as fully charged as possible.
Be there and be calm
If there is just one thing I could ask of you for this it is to be present, to be calm and to be there for me. You do not need to understand everything that is happening, you do not need to pre-empt my every need but if you can just be there for me, a solid, calming, present, presence – no matter what happens. It is important for me to feel ‘in the moment’ dealing with each thing as it comes and goes, there is no rush to get to the next stage, just taking each event, each minute, each second as it comes.
Focus on me physically
Eye contact, hand holding, touching me and generally acknowledging me is lovely. It makes me feel like I am not alone and you are there with me paying attention and going through it all with me.
Verbally reassure me
‘You can do this’ ‘you are doing so well’ ‘ I am proud of you’ ‘you’re going to be ok’ ‘I am here’ ‘You’re going to be ok’ ‘ this will pass’ etc
Keep questions to a minimum
Please try to avoid questions that involve me having to form an opinion, I want to concentrate fully on my labour/delivery and anything that distracts me from this mentally or physically is not good. Even questions about said labour/delivery are best kept to a minimum if possible. Anything that requires a yes or no is fine but if it is something I have to stop thinking about labour in order to come up with an answer is best avoided unless totally necessary – if it is necessary consider when is good to ask ie during a contraction probably not the best time! ;)
Don’t take offence
Literally anything can happen – I may change my mind about any/all of this at any time, I may be in control of my emotions I may not, I may get cross with you, I may cry or I may sail through, who knows! – Whatever I say/do remind yourself that I still love you and am doing something truly overwhelming and whatever I say/do just let it go. We can always talk about things later but from the moment I go into labour until at least a few hours after his birth my needs will just have to come first as I will have no time/space to consider anything else.
Don’t rush things
I will likely be beyond exhausted, the hospital will probably want to get us out quick but the first few hours can be key to bonding, ignore them – who cares what they think. Also, I do not react well to being rushed, try to give me time to recover and just ‘be’ for a little while before you start packing bags and making plans for going home. Join me in marvelling at what we achieved and just be in that moment – it’s gonna be pretty special!
Have a plan
At least for the first few hours ie how to get home, what we have to eat, loo roll, cats fed etc but ideally for the first 24 hours – again food, cats, movies, clean bed etc. My ability to help is a current unknown but remember IF I need intervention such as a caesarean I would be in hospital for at least a few nights and then not able to do much at all for a week or so after so it really is worth thinking in advance of what can be done in case, as I will not be able to help at all and will not want to be asked/have to worry about it.
I know you have been doing this for a long time but I will likely need you to do it a little longer I’m afraid. I will be tired, emotional, physically in pain, learning to breast-feed and god knows what else. You can make all this bearable just by letting me feel however I feel, not trying to fix it or make me feel better, but just reassuring me that it is ok and natural to feel this way and that together we will find our feet and it will all be ok, and remember that eye-contact and touch - it makes things bearable.