Let’s face it, although your partner wants to be involved, it’s a sad fact of nature that he can’t actually have the baby for you. So he may feel that all he can manage, while watching the woman he loves in pain, is sit back and wince. But, as chief supporter, there are plenty of things he can do to help…
Supply on demand
Get your other half to pack the hospital bag (under your guidance), so he knows exactly where everything is as well as what everything’s for. “This way he can produce the right thing quickly when you need it,” says Jules Robertson, midwife for Tommy’s baby charity (www.tommys.org). Get him to pack a cool bag with food and drink you both like (he’ll need to keep his energy up, too). “If you can’t face big drinks it’s helpful for your partner to encourage you to take little sips, especially as your mouth gets dry from all the breathing,” says Jules.
Follow your lead
Your partner can be mighty useful in helping you enforce your birth plan if you’re feeling a bit bewildered. But warn him he’ll need to be flexible if things change and the midwife suggests something new. “If he must disagree, he needs to keep his cool and be respectful,” says Troy Jones, creator of Being Dad (www.beingdad.co.uk).
“A woman in labour often changes her mind,” says Jules. “So a dad needs to support any new decisions she makes.”
Stay up top
“If your partner’s not good with blood, tell him you’d prefer him to support you at the ‘head end’,” says Jules. Some dads like to see the baby being born, but he can take a quick look and then return to your side if he’s not prepared for the reality of post-birth mess.
“ ‘I’m so proud of you,’ ‘You’re doing really well,’ are the types of phrases your partner should be using,” says Troy. Ones to avoid? ‘Yuck,’ ‘What the…?’ or ‘Does it hurt?’. “And warn him not to take any insults from you to heart,” adds Jules. Remind him he’s the one who can give you the support you need.
Get snap happy
“Have a discussion about photo taking before the birth so you can decide what’s acceptable and what’s not,” says Jules. Questions include can he snap away at any time, from any position? Put him in charge of checking there are spare batteries and the memory has space, too.
“Be prepared to make on-the-spot decisions for your partner as she may not be with it enough. I chose to stop the hormone drip that was making Rachel’s contractions start, until after she had an epidural, as it was getting painful.”
Grant Griffin, 30, from Cambridgeshire, dad to Damian, 10 months