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From two first-time dads to dads-to-be: How to genuinely help in labour.

You may know, in theory, what will physically happen to your partner during all stages of labour. All of this practical information is very useful to have. Equally, you may know absolutely nothing and have no idea what to expect. Either way, many birthing partners, particularly first-timers, feel like a spare part during the birthing process and are unsure how to help. So, from two first Dads to another, here’s our advice to you:

1. Your snack and drinks provision game needs to be on point- Have a ready stash of non-perishable snacks in your hospital bag or be prepared to run laps of the labour ward to fetch them. Your partner might not be hungry at all during labour, but we assure you, anything you give her after the birth will be the best meal she has ever eaten. Also, remember to take food for yourself- you are expected to be 100% present, and it’s hard to do so if you are hungry. Classic mid-marathon foods are your best friend for this.

 2. Use all massage, rebozo and pressure techniques you learned in birthing classes or watched on YouTube-  It apparently works. If your partner is going for an epidural, you can relieve her before it, and if she isn’t, you can ease how she is experiencing contractions. It also makes you an active part of the process, which feels really nice.  

3. Know your way around- Have all phone numbers ( helpline, midwife’s, etc.) handy at all times and know which one to call and when. Remember where to go and on which door to knock if you are birthing in a hospital. The last thing you want is for your partner to wait for you to ask for directions while she is having contractions.

3. Film, record, and take photos – Not during the birth but in the build-up and after birth. Seeing the content changing from pre- to post-birth is something we will forever cherish. Also, giving birth might be one of the craziest efforts your partner will go through and it deserves to be captured. 

4. Think about what type of communication actually motivates your partner- You are their biggest cheerleader and source of oxytocin to help get that baby out. Your partner loves you for who you are, so whatever comes naturally is best. Hint: Questions such as “Does it hurt?” are probably not the right ones, and dad jokes are there for when you have become a dad already. 

5. Manage Logistics: Take care of practical matters like timing contractions and communicating with family and friends. Keep track of any necessary paperwork as well.

6. Mama, of course, gets first dibs on skin-to-skin with the baby.-This is such a  beautiful thing for you to see. Mama may be unable to do this in some situations, so you should be ready to get your kit off and do the same, as it is unbelievably beneficial for your newborn.

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