Helping at the birth
Find out how you can prepare for when your partner goes into labour and how you can help.
There are a number of birthing options available to an expectant parent – the decision comes down to what your partner is most comfortable with, and what her and her midwife think is best for the baby.
Choosing a birthing option is entirely down to you and your partner, so long as there are no health concerns or complications during the pregnancy. And not to worry, if your partner changes their mind at the last minute, it can usually be accommodated. Just make sure you’re clear on what she wants and doesn’t want so that you can make decisions on her behalf when she’s preoccupied.
There are certain signs you’ll spot when your partner has gone into labour, and although she’ll probably know, it’s worth you getting to know them too:
When your partner thinks she’s in labour, it’s time to call the midwife. Make sure you have the midwife’s telephone number to hand, in case you need to make the call for your wife. The midwife will be able to speak to you and tell you when you should go into hospital, unless, of course, your partner opted for a home birth. Using a contraction timer will help you keep track of the length and frequency of the contractions, and enable your midwife to calculate how the labour is progressing. Our free preparing for birth mobile app has one built-in.
You might feel under quite a lot of pressure driving or accompanying your partner to the hospital, but there are ways to prepare for the big day:
It’s likely that your partner’s hospital bag will be packed and ready to go weeks before the birth. However, when labour kicks in, her mind may be elsewhere, so be sure to pick it up on the way out of the door, along with her birth plan and maternity notes. Our free preparing for birth mobile app is full of practical advice and information, plus a contraction timer.
Don’t forget that you’ll need some bits and pieces, too. You may want to pack a separate bag for yourself, including:
The first step when you arrive at hospital is for your partner to be checked over by a midwife. If she is in early labour, it might be a good idea to take her back home so that she can be in a more relaxed environment.
If you stay in hospital, she will be given a bed in an early labour ward where the midwife will go through her birth plan with her – make sure you’re part of this conversation, so you know what to expect. When the labour progresses, your partner will then be moved to the delivery room.
If you arrive at hospital when your partner is in full labour, she’ll be taken straight to the delivery room where your midwife will go through her birth plan with her. If things are moving quickly at this stage, you (or your partner’s birth partner) will need to step in, so make sure you (or they) know her preferences on:
Some women find out they need a caesarean section earlier on in pregnancy, but if the birth is thought to be a risk to the mother or the child, they may be informed during labour. If your partner does need a caesarean section, it’s nothing to panic about. It’s a straightforward procedure that usually takes around an hour, and your partner will be in good hands. After a caesarean, it can take around six weeks to recover, so you’ll need to give your partner more help around the house and in caring for your new baby.
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