If you went to antenatal classes with your partner, or you’re going to be someone’s birthing partner, now's the time to use what you've learned.
Preparing for labour and birth
In the months and weeks running up to the birth, it's a good idea to:
- talk to mum about the birth so you know what the birth plan is and what they want and definitely don't want to happen
- find out the basics about labour and birth - knowing what’s going to happen and what to expect will help you to be calm and supportive during labour
- find out in advance what might happen if your baby needs help to be born
If you’ve got questions or worries, you can talk to your midwife too.
What happens at the start of labour
Giving your support during labour and birth
There’s lots you can do to support your partner through labour and birth. Trust and listen to the professionals looking after both of you and your baby. They'll help you know what to do and when to do it.
Know your limits and what you're comfortable with and don’t be afraid to ask questions or find out how you can be involved.
Help them relax
Whenever possible, help your partner to relax and stay focused. Deep relaxing breaths help.
Stay calm. Labour's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time and if mum's anxious you’ll help by staying calm yourself.
Breathing and relaxation techniques for stress
Help them manage the pain
It can be difficult to watch someone when they’re in pain. It might feel like you can’t help much but you’re there to be their biggest supporter. Give your partner lots of encouragement and affection to help them cope with the contractions and manage pain.
Try giving a lower back massage to help ease backache in labour. You can gently rub your partner's back, hold their hand and generally be there to share the pain as well as the joy.
People manage pain in their own way. So don't feel offended if your partner says things they don't mean. This is just their way of coping.
Help them with decisions
Be ready to step in and help make important decisions. You can tell staff what your partner's wishes are if they need to make a choice, but they're finding it hard to think clearly.
Keep an open mind and be prepared for the birth plan to change at the last minute.
Early labour can last a long time and it can be frustrating and unpredictable. Make sure that you can be contacted easily and you're prepared to wait.
When your baby arrives
When baby arrives, say hello. As a dad or partner, you should hold, cuddle and talk to your baby right from the start.
If your baby's born by elective or emergency caesarean section you may be asked to look after your new baby until mum comes out of theatre. If this happens, there'll be lots of support to help you know what to do.
Partners now have the option to stay in hospital with you and your baby, to give you support and establish family bonding.
More about bonding with your baby