As the pregnancy draws to an end, you need to start preparing for the labour and birth. Check out what paternity/parental leave entitlements, if any, you are permitted by law, or by your employer. You should attend antenatal classes with your partner, as this will give you invaluable information and advice and help you understand the process of labour and birth. This will help you to be a supportive partner, and to know how best to encourage and support your partner during labour. If your partner has made a birth plan, ensure you have discussed it together beforehand, so you understand your partner's wishes and can be her voice if necessary. Discuss what she wants to do if labour and birth does not go as she hopes. If you are not available, or are reluctant to attend the birth itself, then make sure that your partner has a family member, friend or doula to accompany her.
So how can you help as the countdown begins to the arrival of your baby? How can you prepare?
- Increase your share of household tasks and childcare.
- Find out what things will be needed during, and after birth, and know where to find them.
- Make sure that your partner has her bag packed if you are having your baby at a hospital or birthing unit. Have a bag ready for yourself with camera, snacks, drinks etc
- Make sure the house is stocked with food and other essentials. Prepare and freeze some meals if possible.
- Ensure you can be contacted at all times, particularly when away from home.
- Have annual leave/paternity leave arranged for when the baby arrives.
- Make sure your other children are prepared for the new arrival (perhaps organise some welcome presents from the baby to them!)
- Offer your partner regular massages.
- Learn some acupressure tecnniques for labour. Acupuncturist Debra Betts has some great resources available on: http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupressure/
- Rest – labour can be strenuous for dads too (but remember not as strenuous!)
- Ensure you have the car fueled up, and serviced, and money ready for parking meters if needed.
- Plan and time your route to the hospital/clinic.
- Get contact numbers for your partner’s carers/hospital/clinic.
- Find out where to park and where to go once you get to the hospital/clinic
- Check you can put the car seat in the car.
- Have a group text/email list set up so you can circulate the good news easily.
- Organise a present for your partner – you are going to be amazed by what she does!