When a woman goes into birth, she’ll usually have her partner with her – that’s you. And although you don’t have to go through the physical strain of having the baby, your supporting role is just as important.
Most couples will have worked out a birth plan to manage the labor and ensure an active involvement in the birth. A birth plan sets out your partner’s preferred plan for the birth and can include information about what you’d like to happen if complications occur.
As your partner will be doing all the hard physical work, you can be of enormous help simply by being there; offering encouragement and support and making sure her wishes are met
You’ve most likely prepared for labor and birth after attending antenatal classes, talking to each other and doing lots of reading and research. If you haven’t, start right now!
How will we know when labor is on its way?
Your partner’s body starts preparing for labor by releasing hormones during the last few weeks of pregnancy. The pre-labor symptoms listed below vary in intensity between different people, but can be used as a guide to show that your baby is on it’s way:
Most women start to feel Braxton Hicks’ contractions during the last few months of pregnancy. These weak contractions help prepare your partner’s uterus for labor. The uterus tightens for approximately 25 seconds during a Braxton Hicks contraction, and if you place your hand on your partner’s abdomen you may be able to feel them. The Braxton Hicks’ contractions may become more intense and frequent the closer your partner gets to real labor.
Some time within the two to three weeks leading up to labor, your baby will position itself for labor by moving lower down and settling in the pelvis. Your partner will probably notice that the baby feels lighter as pressure is removed from the diaphragm and transferred to the bladder. Breathing becomes easier but she’ll need to pee more often.
During pregnancy a plug of mucus seals the cervix to prevent infection. When labor is about to begin or is already underway, this plug will appear in her undies or the toilet as a sticky, brown or pink substance called “the show”.