Prep your own bag.
A few weeks before the baby is due, prep a little bag of stuff to take to the hospital. A change of clothes, something to wear to sleep, something to read, and even some snacks to share. Your partner will be impressed that you took care of this task all on your own, and you will feel ultra prepared to roll into the hospital with your own suitcase.
Read, read, read.
Before labour starts, make a point to read a few books on what the day will be like. Everything will go much more smoothly if you understand the different stages of labour, what to do after the baby is born, and what to expect from the birth itself.
Watch some videos.
On that note, you should also watch a few videos. They will be graphic and might make you uncomfortable, but it is best to know ahead of time what will be happening in the birthing suite. Once you get through a few birth videos, you will likely feel less anxious about going through the same thing!
Try not to rush.
When your partner tells you she is in labour, your first instinct will probably be to drive straight to the hospital. However, there is generally no need to rush. Try to slow down the pace and see how the future mama feels. She will let you know when it is time to go, and until then, don’t rush her. If you stay calm, she will stay calm!
Offer support (and massage).
Make sure to offer emotional and physical support during the entire labouring process. Hold your partner’s hand, massage her back or feet, and basically do or say whatever she asks. Remember that she isn’t being demanding, during labour it is all about just staying as comfortable as possible, and she needs all the help she can get.
Know that it gets messy.
Yes, there will be blood, lots of it. If your partner gets an epidural, she may have uncontrollable gas, and need a catheter as well. During pushing, women often poop on the delivery table. There will be sights, sounds, and smells that aren't the most pleasant, but all of it is completely natural and to be expected. Go into that room knowing that it will get messy so you aren’t surprised by the activity. And whatever you do, keep all commentary about bodily fluids to yourself!
We all know that labour can last a long time. You will be bored, hungry, tired, hot, uncomfortable, scared… the list goes on. But here is the thing. Whatever you are feeling, she is feeling that x 100. So before you complain about the uncomfortable seating or bad caf meals, take a deep breath and put a smile on your face instead. Your partner will thank you for this later.
Be an advocate.
Sometimes women in labour have a hard time saying what they need. This is where you come in. Be an advocate for your labouring partner. Make sure her wishes are heard, and make sure that she receives the care that she needs at the time that she needs it. This doesn’t mean being pushy or annoying to the hospital staff, instead be firm and get her needs spoken when she might not have the voice to do so.
Stay on task.
Resist the temptation to play around with your phone or tablet. Take breaks when you need to, but keep them short! Remember, your partner doesn’t get to take breaks, and she expects you to be by her side as much as possible.
Know that newborns can look funny.
Hopefully, you have watched some videos and you know that newborns aren’t always born looking cute. Their heads are squished or bruised, sometimes even stretched into a cone from a long labour. They are covered in goo and blood. But to your partner, this baby is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. Save any comments about that funny looking newborn face for a few months down the line, and instead savour these first few minutes with your precious new little one.
The best tip of all? Just relax and go with it. Know that you have zero control in the situation and that all you can do is offer your calmest side, your strongest hand to squeeze, and your kindest words. You partner needs you, and that is all that matters.