Being a birth partner is a massive honour – but it can also be a bit daunting too. Whether you’re a dad-to-be, sister or best friend, these tips will help everything run smoothly so you can provide the support she needs.
1. Bring some cash
No, not for bribing your way into the birthing suite – you’ll need loose change for lots of things, such as the parking meter, vending machines or the hospital café.
2. Prepare for the long haul
From the first signs of labour, you have no idea if it’ll be all over in an hour, or if you’ll still be waiting for the baby to arrive three days later. Giving birth is different for everyone, so make sure you’re prepared for every eventuality; check the sleeping arrangements in advance to avoid resorting to the delivery room floor and your coat as a blanket.
3. See if the hospital has wi-fi
With so many people to keep updated, and the chance of a substantial wait before the baby arrives, it’s all too easy to eat away at that data allowance and rack up a massive bill. Check to see if the hospital has wi-fi available to purchase – but no posting pics of the delivery room unless she says so!
4. Do ask or answer questions
While the mum-to-be is busy dealing with contractions, it’s your job to ask and answer questions regarding her care. Expect to be asked the same questions more than once, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you or the mum-to-be aren’t sure about something.
5. Help in any way you can
It’s hard seeing your friend, relative or partner in pain, especially if you don’t know how to be useful – or what to say without sounding patronising. Try to support her as much as you can by offering a hand to squeeze, rubbing her back, and responding to her (reasonable) requests. If it seems like she’s being exceptionally demanding, try to remember it’ll all be worthwhile in the end. Deep breaths are good for you as well as her…
6. Be in charge of the water supply
Labour is truly exhausting, and things like gas and air can make her feel even more dehydrated, so get more water than you think you’ll need. Top tips include freezing a big bottle to keep it cold for 24 hours, and bringing straws to make it easier for her to drink throughout labour. It’s the practical things that really count right now.
7. Don’t forget the journey home
Remember new mums usually feel pretty lousy after birth, so you’ll need to think about how both she and the baby are getting home safely. For extra birth-partner points, practise installing the baby’s car seat correctly so that it’s a slick operation on the day. Congratulations, you and your friendship/relationship have survived the delivery room!