During pregnancy and childbirth the father/partner can play a vital role lending support and encouragement to the mother. The list below details things that will make a real difference during pregnancy and the childbirth process.
- Learn how to change nappies
- Learn how to bath a baby
- Organise a car seat and know how to use it
- Keep petrol in car
- Film in the camera
- Phone cards or phone charged
- List of phone numbers for who to ring if needed
- Know how to contact your LMC (Lead Maternity Carer)
- Organise baby area at home
- Go along to as many of the doctor’s visits as possible
- Take on more of the household chores
- Go for walks with the mother, encourage regular pregnancy safe exercise
- Eat healthy; ensure your home has all the right healthy foods available
- Keep your cool; your partner is going through some major emotional and hormonal changes (it’s not always about you!)
- Do an antenatal class together
- Contribute to a birth plan
- Give her lots of TLC and tell her she looks great and is doing a great job
- Communicate with her, and listen to her needs and express your needs and concerns
- Assess your financial situation; planning well in advance often softens the financial blow Enjoy it as much as you can
If Planning a Hospital Birth
- Hospital bag
- Organise who is looking after any other children, pets, house
- Food, drinks to take to hospital
- Know how to get to hospital
- Where to park at hospital
- Waterproof covering on car seat/bed mattress for when waters break
If Planning a Home Birth – ensure the following are ready:
- Washing up bowl, cold and hot water
- Sanitary towels
- Torch/spot light
- Container to put the placenta in
- Hot water bottle or heater to warm baby clothes and towels
- The room needs to be kept warm for when the baby is born.
- A working phone, though the most midwives carry a mobile phone
- Time some contractions – how long are they? How long between each one?
- Offer support and reassurance. Asking the mother “what is your expectation of me at the birth?” can open up communication.
- Drinks, ice to suck on
- Heat packs
- Visualization e.g. peaceful pictures or photos of places you have visited (use rotating photos on a lap top if available)
- Massage and acupressure
- Restrict visitors if partner tired (allow for rest during the day)
- Baby bathing
- Laundry, housework, meals
- Home safety – gates where needed, move poisons before baby is mobile
- Email message or message on answer phone re birth details and visiting. Some people will welcome visitors, others won’t. It can sometimes all depend on how much sleep you have had! Everyone wants to come see the new baby and it is hard for tired new parents to say “No”. Messages via email, answer phone or even a note on the front door can help. Try something along the lines of:
- New family needs some settling in and recovery time.
- If you wish to visit us prefer this to be …(day and time)
- If we are at the hospital please don’t ring the staff, as they don’t have time to answer calls.
- The visiting hours at the hospital are…
- You can contact us on…please ring before you come, we may be catching up on sleep.
- If you have a cold or flue could you wait till better as babies immune systems are immature.
- All food very much appreciated.
It may sound rude telling when they can or can’t come but you and the baby need to come first. As a Nurse and Midwife I have learnt to be able to care for other people, you need to care for yourself first. Same goes with parents, how are you going to look after a baby if you are not meeting your own basic needs of food and sleep.
With this article I had help from DIY Father www.diyfather.com/pregnancy This is a group of fathers who set up a web site called DIYFather.com as an online interactive forum for dads that offers resources, discussion groups and practical information about parenting from a male perspective. They also have a book called Call me Dad.
About the Author
Article by Helen Pulford (Midwife and Childbirth Educator) owner of:
directory for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting web sites.
childbirth education resources.
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