Your person is about to have a baby and you’re going to become a parent. Congratulations! The wait is over and it’s all finally happening. So they’re in labor… What now? You’re probably asking yourself this question over and over. How can you help? What should you do? Well, before it even gets to that point, I’m writing this blog full of labor tips for dads and partners so you know exactly what your role is and how to help most during labor and delivery.
I’m Julianne, a local Northern Colorado doula. And in this role, one of the things I do is help dads and partners just like you learn to support the birthing person. You see, you have a very important role in all of this, and they need you to be on your A-game. And I’m here to make YOU look good while giving your very best support. That’s why I’ve written a whole blog all about labor tips for dads and partners.
So before labor starts, and before you become a new parent – here’s what you need to know, and here’s what your role will look like in the birthing room. Heed these labor tips for dads and partners so that the person in labor is as comfortable and well-supported as possible.
Ready? Let’s go!
- Before the big day – Take those child birthing classes with your spouse or partner so you know what’s to come and what to expect. The more you know, the less frightening this will all be and the better you’ll be able to help. It won’t hurt to take a new daddy boot camp or parenting class either so that once the baby is here, you can play an active role in caring for the baby, too. And secondly, before the baby comes – know your partner’s birth preferences. This will help you support them how they want to be supported, but also it will help you advocate for them at the hospital or birthing center.
- Know when to be quiet – Labor is tough and your partner is going to need lots of support. There will be times to cheer them on and remind them they won’t be doing this forever, but also know that when they are concentrating and breathing hard it won’t be a good time to ask them questions and chit-chat. If they are feeling serious you probably should be serious too. Stay close and know that as long as you are there the silence may be okay.
- Take care of yourself, too – I know this sounds a bit counter-intuitive but make sure you bring snacks and drink water, especially if the labor is taking some time. The last thing your partner needs is for you to pass out or to be hangry. No really – don’t get to that point.
- Brush those teeth! If labor takes a long time, you must be aware of your personal hygiene. Brush your teeth, reapply your deodorant, and so forth. Your partner needs your support, not your BO. This will be hard enough for them without worrying about foreign smells. Don’t take this personally, it’s just something you gotta think about. And smelling good keeps that oxytocin flowing.
- Advocate for your partner. Back to knowing their preferences – it’s your job to help advocate for whatever those may be. The birthing person will likely be tired and a bit spent, so make sure you’re stepping up on their behalf to ask questions.
- Focus your attention on your partner! Your mom might be texting like crazy for updates or work might be crazy, but now is the time to turn off your ringer and tune the rest of it out. Focus your energy on them, and the rest will be there when the baby is here.
- Don’t be a pre-teen. Yeah, you heard me. Things are going to be a little messy and there will be some awkward moments, maybe even a little poo, but this is not your chance to giggle in the back of the classroom. And what your partner is experiencing takes a lot of vulnerability. Support your partner and be mature. What happens in the labor room, stays in the labor room.
- Don’t sleep on the job. I know you’re probably tired but don’t nap, ask to nap, or talk about napping while your partner is actively laboring. It’s just not fair and they need your help. You can sleep later or if they are resting but not during the big day, sorry, not sorry.
- Be an active supporter! Whatever your partner prefers – make sure you’re providing it. That might be massages or walking. That might be different support positions or helping them into the bathtub, but whatever is it – make sure you’re actually doing those things.
- Be prepared for a cesarean – 30% of births are cesarean births right now. (Yep, the number is too high, which will be a topic for a blog later) If your baby decides to be born through the sunroof, know that your role will double. You’ll need to provide after-surgery care and double your duties as you care for the baby and the partner. It’s awfully painful and they’ll need your help more than ever.
- Hire a doula! If you’re feeling quite overwhelmed and don’t think you can be your partner’s sole support person, it might be time to consider a doula. You’re not alone in thinking this and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent or partner. In fact just the opposite. A doula is a person who is trained in birth and emotional support. They not only fill in the gaps you aren’t trained to provide but they support to both of you. It’s really a win-win.
As a doula, I can tell you this – the dads, co-parents, and partners that are most prepared for labor make sure their partners have the best experience. You will be doing yourself, your partner, and your baby’s the biggest favor if you make sure you’re prepared and come ready to help.
Please use these labor tips for dads and partners as your guide, but go beyond this. Take that class. Sign up for that dad boot camp. Read that book. Commit to being the best partner and birth supporter you can be.
If you have questions or need more tips for dads and partners, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can also read lots of other dad and partner-specific topics on my blog – find them here. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram for even more tips and ideas.
And finally, if you think you and your partner could benefit from a doula, let’s chat.