Your child’s birth is a special date. You will meet your baby and fall in love all over again. You will witness the amazing power of your partner’s body. And you might be challenged to remember to do everything ‘right’. Listed below are some simple suggestions for you to plan around and to remember for the big day.
Before labor starts you have three important jobs:
- Make sure you get the car seat professionally installed. Watch, ask questions, and be prepared if you ever have to move it for labor or in postpartum. This usually gives great joy to the mother, and it mentally prepares her for the imminent arrival of her child.
- Make sure everything is packed and ready to go. Two simple packing suggestions for you. First, separate your packing out into two separate bags. One bag would be the ‘grab and go’ bag which has a strap for your shoulder. This bag has all the bare necessities for the birth and a memento in honor of your previous sleeping baby. The second bag is the postpartum bag with all the extras that you might want or need postpartum. You can leave this bag in the car and focus on your partner when you arrive at your birth place rather than having to act like a Sherpa and leave her to fend for herself. Second, make a last minute list of things you cannot pack ahead of time (phone, chargers, camera, wallets, etc.) and post it on the back side of the house door that you will be exiting. This list can prevent forgetting an important item or feeling anxious.
- Know how to get to your birth location both in the middle of the night and during traffic. Know several alternative routes if necessary. Know where to park and what entrance to use.
In labor you have five important jobs:
- Your number one job is to listen, listen some more, and then listen again. Once you have heard both what she said and what she didn’t say, respond with positive encouragement. Women will speak with their words and their bodies. No one knows her better than you do. Turn on your sympathetic side and be her advocate. “I am scared too, but he/she is doing great. I’m so excited to meet our baby.”
- Follow instructions. The mother’s instructions, the provider’s, and the nurse’s. “Honey, your doing great. The OB said to pee every hour. It will help the baby descend. Can I help you up?”
- Remember today she is doing all the work. You are the support staff. You must take care of yourself too: use the bathroom, eat and take naps when needed. But do not talk to her about how tired or hungry you are. Remember she is working harder than you and she is probably unable to eat, and its been hours since she got any deep sleep. If you need a brake or to talk, ask for assistance so that you can step out of the room.
- Take care of your personal hygiene. Many women report an acute sense of smell in labor. Deodorant, breath mints, toothpaste and a toothbrush will be your best friend in labor.
- Last but not least stay CALM! Labor day can be both exciting and challenging, especially after a previous traumatic experience. When you’re stressed she knows it, and it will add to her anxiety. Take a deep breath, ground yourself, and kiss her. Even if you’re not calm inside, present the face of calm for her and your baby.
*Photo Credit: Stephanie Harrington