How to Prepare for When Your Partner Goes into Labor

Did you know that supporting a woman during childbirth is an important job? Research indicates that women who have support during labor are more likely to have a positive outcome. If your partner is pregnant, you should be prepared to take on a supportive role when the big day arrives, providing her with comfort, strength and encouragement. In return, you’ll get to share in one of the most meaningful and powerful moments of your life together. Here are some tips to make sure you’re ready for what’s in store.

  • Learn as much as you can before the baby arrives. Attend a childbirth class: in-person classes are preferable, but if that’s not possible, take an online course and watch videos so that you’ll be prepared. Read as much as you can, so you’ll feel confident when your child makes an appearance. Make a birth plan and discuss labor strategies with your partner.
  • Expect to hurry up and wait. During the last trimester, many women experience Braxton Hicks contractions. This is a belly-tightening sensation that can feel like labor, but it’s just the body’s way of preparing for childbirth. Even when labor does begin, there will probably be several hours before it’s time to go to the hospital. It’s important to understand the stages of labor.
    • The first stage consists of three phases.
      • Early labor: During this time, the woman’s water may break, triggering labor. Contractions may feel like persistent low back pain, and will become longer, stronger, and closer together as labor progresses. It’s often more comfortable to spend the earliest part of labor at home, timing contractions so you’ll know when to head to the hospital. Generally, that time comes when the contractions are about five minutes apart.
      • Active phase: By this time, you’ll be at the hospital, and the contractions will be more intense, spaced three to five minutes apart, lasting 40-60 seconds. Your partner will need your help with breathing exercises and relaxation techniques you learned in the childbirth class, and she may want to opt for pain relief. It can also be helpful for you to massage her temples or apply counterpressure to her back. On the other hand, she may not want to be touched. Every woman is different and it’s important to listen to your partner and find out what she needs.
      • Transition phase: This is an intense phase, during which contractions will last 60-90 seconds and be about two to three minutes apart.
    • Birth happens during the second stage. This stage can last minutes to hours and includes pushing and delivery.
    • The third stage begins after the baby is born. The placenta is delivered five to ten minutes later, and it’s common for the mom to feel shaky or get chills. Now is a good time for you as the partner to offer a warm blanket. It’s also a great opportunity to hold your newborn child and let your partner rest.
  • Be prepared to be flexible. The strategies you have planned for labor may not pan out. The birth plan may have to change. You may feel faint or queasy, and labor may not go the way you expect. The important thing is that you’re bringing new life into the world and your partner has you as an advocate and a source of support.

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