The big day is finally here. You're having regular contractions or you have gone to the hospital to be admitted for an induction or you're ready for your scheduled c-section. Your partner is running around, panicking, pacing the room, or worse: is completely bored out of their mind. What should they be doing? Here are some ideas for things you should ask your partner when you're in labor; things they can do, say, or know to make your life a little easier on the big day.
My first husband was absolutely worthless when I was in labor. He actually told me to be quiet, complained about the uncomfortable sofa, and, worst of all, ate in front of me after they told me I couldn't have anything to eat. I wanted to pelt him with ice chips.
Now that I am pregnant again (third time's a charm, I hope) and have a new husband, we've had a ton of conversations about how everything will go down when our baby decides to join us. We've packed our hospital bag, know where to go (thanks to a frantic early morning trip to the hospital for preterm labor), and he knows my plans for pain management (all of the drugs) and feeding baby (we will breastfeed and supplement with formula).
I have also thought a lot about what I will need to make it through. There will definitely be moments when I need some physical touch and reassurance. I may not be able to express my needs or advocate for myself, and I may need a partner in crime to watch the door while I down a granola bar or latte. Fortunately, my husband is on my team, and knows that I will cut him if he complains about what's on TV while I am doing the work of pushing our child out of my vagina (kidding).
Here are some other questions I am likely to ask, and I hope he'll willingly answer. Consider this your birth support cheat sheet for ways partners can help make labor a little less laborious.
"Can You Take Me To The Hospital?"
It's time. Seriously. Baby is coming, so grab the bag and don't forget the snacks. Can we go? I don't want to give birth at home or in the car.
"Can You Shave My Legs?"
On second thought, I am taking a shower, first. Can you help me wash my hair and shave my legs? And, no, you can't grab a shower, too. I'm in labor.
"Can You Bring Me Snacks?"
Can you run and get me a latte and a caramel roll? I need snacks.
"Can You Rub My Back?"
I had back labor my first two labors. It was the worst pain I have ever felt. Counter pressure on my back seriously helped. Please rub my back. Don't forget the massager.
"Will You Hold My Hand?"
I may feel scared or overwhelmed and want you to hold my hand or talk me down from an emotional ledge. Be present for me.
"Can You Ask For Me?"
If for some reason I am in too much pain, too emotional, or otherwise not able to communicate, I might need you to let them know what I want or need. Let's go over some basics now, so that you can be my voice.
"Can You Please Leave?"
Sometimes they have to do some pretty invasive things during labor. Please don't feel bad if I ask you to leave or turn around if they need to insert a catheter or check my cervix. I am not sure how I am going to feel or if they'll let you stay.
"Can You Guard The Door?"
I'm going to have that snack, and I really don't want the nurse walking in. Can you guard the door?
"Will You Please Stop Talking?"
My husband has a nervous habit of cracking jokes when he doesn't know what to say, which is why he told the ultrasound tech that we were on our first date and told the nurses jokes when I had to go to the hospital for preterm labor. Sometimes, it's OK to be quiet. Please stop talking.
"Can You Get The Nurse?"
Something's not right. I need meds now. I'm ready to push. Can you get the nurse?
"Will You Get Some Sleep?"
There's no need for both of us to get no sleep. It's OK, I have Netflix and Facebook to keep me company.
"Can You Advocate For Me?"
Above all else, we are a team. I need you to be my advocate, and our baby's advocate. I can't do this alone. Good thing I am an excellent judge of character, and I picked you to help me do this amazing thing. It's go time. Any questions?