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How To Be The Best Birth Buddy

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If pregnancy were the NFL, then consider labor-and-delivery day the Super Bowl, which means, expectant dads, your child’s birth will be one of the most important events of your life, and your job is to be there for your partner so she'll be able to deliver a healthy baby her way—or as close to her original plan as possible. Here's how:

Be her number-one fan

In interview after interview, women have said that what mattered most during labor was their partners' support. So smile, cheer her on and help in whatever way she wants you to. If she needs you to rub her back and murmur encouragement, do so. If she would like you to run interference with her doctor, be there.

During labor, play head coach and take charge

She can't manage everything when she's focused on riding the waves of discomfort, so you'll have to step in. If your wife wants pain medication, make sure the anesthesiologist is paged immediately. If morale dips, help her refocus: Switch on the mp3 (if you brought one); move her to another chair or position (if she’s mobile); and tell her you love her and that the baby’s coming soon.

Attend to her physical comfort

Give her a back or shoulder massage or apply ice- or heat-packs. Do whatever she needs to take the edge off contractions, and be alert, because her needs will change quickly. One minute she’ll want a massage, the next she won’t want to be touched.

Ignore the trash talk

Your partner could get cantankerous—pain will do that to anyone. Try not to take it personally and pull back. What’s said in the delivery room stays in the delivery room.

Bring the right equipment

Besides her packing list and her written birth plan, remember to bring for yourself comfortable shoes, a change of clothes, deodorant, toothbrush and breath mints. Remember: You're in for the long haul.

Fuel up

Bring snacks because you'll get hungry, too. But be sensitive: Because of hospital policy, she may not have been able to eat all this time and may not react too kindly to seeing you chow down. If  you’ve had a garlicky sandwich or a strong cup of coffee, pop a breath mint afterward.

Be open to calling back-up from the bench

Some expectant fathers are just not comfortable in the role of support person. It’s okay if she relies on a best friend, mother, sister or a doula (a professional trained to offer emotional and physical support during pregnancy). Having that backup can give you the confidence to be supportive in your own way.

The bottom line: “No one knows her better than you; no one loves her better than you," says Penny Simkin, doula and author of "The Birth Partner." ”Your continuous presence is one of the most important things during labor and delivery.”

 
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