The number one thing to remember is that no matter your skill set, no matter how you handle stressful or intense situations, you are an important and incredibly helpful part of your partners labor experience! Here are some tips to help guide you through those unsure moments...
1. Help them rest!
If she starts to feel the beginnings of labor, bring her two full glasses of water and encourage her to either take a warm bath or lay down for a little while. This will either help any Braxton Hicks (False contractions that very much feel true) subside or give her the rest she will need going into later stages of labor. Don't worry about timing anything until things start to feel more consistent. If resting is no longer working, catch up on show you are watching together while she does hip circles on a yoga ball. Go for a slow walk. eat some protein for energy, extra points if you prepare her something and bring it to her on the yoga ball.
2. Download a user friendly Contraction Timer app.
There will be a time that timing contractions will be important. There are tons of apps to help you do this so download a couple and find the interface that you feel most comfortable with a few weeks before the due date. When it seems like contractions are happening consistently, time them for 30 minutes to an hour to check their pattern. Most birth classes give the 411 rule to remember when to go to the hospital (4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for at least 1 hour). This is a good rule, but labor doesn't always play by the rules. If things are growing more intense but the numbers are off, Pay more attention to how she is coping. Did she shift from chatting in between to really focusing through, did her breathing change, is she needing to move around more? Watch for changes to know its go time.
3. The hospital experience is nothing like the movies.
Hollywood likes to show laboring women as crazed cursing beasts who hate the person that "did this to them." While she may get short with you if your breathe smells, or you block her focal point, or she is preferring not to be touched (super common), Yelling at you and cursing at everyone who sets foot in the room practically never happens. She has hard work to do and she is focused on it. Just remember, Nothing negative she may say or do to you during labor is personal and she will most likely forget it even happened as soon as baby arrives.
4. Baby comes out the way it got in, Oxytocin!
Labor should be an intimate experience. Be there. Love on her. Massage, kiss, be a pillow. Be a pillar to lean on. Breathe together, sway together. Be in sync so you can help ground her when she feels more overwhelmed. If you are worried about being overwhelmed...
5. Get a Doula!
We help you know what to do and when, what to say, how to support. We give you the information and assurance about what is happening. We give you bathroom breaks, snacks, and peace of mind if you need to step out. We are your birth teammate, not your replacement... we could never replace you!
6. Get in there!
Fainting is a common concern but hardly happens like you might think. Even the most squeamish of dads have gotten in there and held a leg, held a hand, coached the pushing process and I promise you it will be so rewarding.
7. Once baby is there, stay close.
The nurses will be all over and will ask if they need more room. otherwise, don't feel like you have to step back, stay close, enjoy your baby, soak in all the love with your partner.
And when she is ready to finally let you hold that little nugget, get some of that sweet skin on skin time for yourself!