There's a lot of information out there about how to support your pregnant partner when they go into labor, are induced, or have a c-section. You can read articles, attend classes, and, perhaps most importantly, listen to them when they tell you what they need (or don't need). However, there's not a lot of information about what to do if things don't go as planned and labor happens before anyone is ready. However, there are things all grown-ass men should do if their partner goes into pre-term labor, and all labor plans go out the window.
My partner and I became acquainted with the aforementioned list one night at two o'clock in the morning. Trust me when I say that everything is harder at two in the morning, especially when you are 28 weeks pregnant, with a high-risk pregnancy, you have four kids sleeping upstairs, it's the middle of winter, and you live 30 minutes from the hospital. It was one of the most frightening moments of my life. I woke up feeling off, went to use the bathroom, and saw blood soaking my panties. It's hard to write about, even months later and as I snuggle my newborn. I totally and understandably freaked the hell out.
While I was a complete mess, my husband was a rock star. He kept me calm while I called my OB-GYN for instructions, and called my parents to meet us there. He then woke our other children, helped them dress and find coats, carried them to the car, grabbed the hospital bag, and drove us all there, while I was a complete mess. About 30 minutes later, we met my parents at the hospital with our kids in various states of dress and checked me in to labor and delivery.
Fortunately, by the time we got there my bleeding had stopped and, after a couple of hours, the doctors were able to stop my labor, too. I wouldn't have coped well at all had I not had my partner there to support me and keep me calm. So, with that in mind, here's a few things he did to make things a little less scary.
They Stay Calm
Trust me when I say that staying calm when you're in pre-term labor is pretty much impossible. Your partner needs to borrow some calm from you. If both of you freak out, no one will be able to do what's necessary to get help and make sure that things go as well as they can, especially when so many things are out of your control.
And for goodness sake, don't expect them to calm you down. They are in freaking labor.
They Manage Chaos
It's time to put all of your project management skills into play. Some time during the third trimester, make a list with your partner of things you'll need to do when you head to the hospital. If labor happens early, be in charge of the check list, so that your partner doesn't have to.
They Stay Positive
I get it: you are freaked out, too. However, staying positive is key. Your partner needs someone to tell them that things will be OK and the worst case scenario is not happening. If the worst is happening, they need someone to review options. Keep things positive until you have all of the information necessary to make decisions.
Have the hospital bag by the door or even in the car. Having that bag of necessities along made me feel so much safer.
They Get Help
Don't weather the storm alone. If your partner is in pre-term labor or thinks they are, call the doctor or go to the hospital. Don't worry about bothering someone or feeling stupid if it turns out to be nothing.
They Drive Their Partner To The Hospital
Hopefully you will be there to drive so that she doesn't have to. I have thought about this a lot, and I think giving birth early while driving alone to the hospital would be a pretty good plot for a horror film. If you aren't there, don't be afraid to call an ambulance for help.
They Hold Their Partner's Hand
There's so much power in human touch. Hold your partner's hand (unless of course they tell you not to touch them).
They Get Information
Write down the things the doctors and nurses say about your partner and the baby's condition, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Your partner might not be in a place to hear or remember what is being said (by anyone), and you'll likely need this information later on.
Again, this might not be the time to openly talk about worst case scenarios, but you can't make decisions without information.
They Offer The Support Their Partner Wants
Ask your partner what they need and offer that kind of support. They might want someone to comfort and reassure them, they might want you to help them review treatment options, they might need a buffer from the reality of the situation or you to ask the nurses for an update so they don't have to, and they most definitely will benefit from support. Ask them what they need.
They Offer Reassurance
This is part of staying calm. Even if you fear the worst, try to focus on the best outcomes and not crossing bridges until you reach them. Suggest waiting until you have information, options, and decisions to make, before assuming the worst. It's true, the worst possible thing might happen, but dwelling on it in a moment of crisis is not helpful.
Remember, you've got this. Your partner needs you now more than ever.