It’s no secret that mom does most of the heavy lifting during pregnancy, but she needs support from her partner. What are the best ways to do that? Find out with these tips from Drs. Jeffrey and Leigh Meltzer, husband and wife duo, parents of three girls, and OB-GYNs at Indiana University Health North Hospital.
My partner and I just found out we’re expecting! How can I best support her through the pregnancy?
Dr. Leigh: It’s important to play an active role in the pregnancy long before your partner delivers. Childbirth education classes teach you how to hold and swaddle a newborn, change their diapers, burp them and soothe them. Take initiative on projects you can lead such as childproofing the home and preparing the car seat, crib, basinet and diaper bag.
Dr. Jeffrey: Make prenatal and ultrasound appointments a priority. Before the delivery, sit down with your partner to map out a birth plan, and talk with your care team about childbirth education classes to learn how to care for a newborn. Before the baby arrives, have a conversation with your partner about what you can do to help prepare. Be involved, but don’t overdo it. If your partner wants to go furniture shopping with her mother, don’t make a fuss.
Dr. Leigh: Avoid doing anything that increases your partner’s anxiety during this time. Specifically, avoid making any travel plans close to the delivery day or bringing up hypothetical, worst-case-scenarios. Let your partner lead these conversations if she chooses to bring them up.
Dr. Jeffrey: Remember, dads, in the weeks leading up to the delivery, moms might be uncomfortable, might not be sleeping well and might even be anxious about how the labor process will go. Be extra helpful and supportive during this time.
How can I be supportive during the delivery process?
Dr. Leigh: This depends on your partner. Some women want space and others want their partners involved in every contraction. Sometimes this changes through the labor process. Be sensitive to your partner’s body language and what she says. Offer to rub her back during labor, time the contractions, or walk with her to the labor ball or rocking chair. Avoid over-empathizing and saying things like “you’re fine” or “it’s almost over.” Just remember to be available, loving and compassionate. I think that’s all we could ask of our partners!
Dr. Jeffrey: It’s helpful for partners to know what to expect during labor, so make sure you’ve done your research before entering the delivery room. Prenatal classes can teach you how to help your partner stay comfortable. Men often like to fix things, and this is a case in which we can’t do that, but prenatal classes will help you learn techniques to help. Remember to be your partner’s advocate. Does she need a break from visitors? Does she need a refill on ice chips? Help her communicate her wishes to the labor and delivery team.