A Partners guide for Childbirth, Postpartum, and newborn care

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Giving birth is like a new birth for the mother too. There are several changes in the body like weight gain, fluid retention, changes in the breasts, taste and smell changes, and various hormonal changes too. A woman needs to be hail and hearty to give birth to a healthy child. During the 9 months, a woman might have morning sickness, headaches, swelling, and other changes that might occur frequently. When there is so much happening in her life, the partner or the father-to-be can be the perfect emotional and physical anchor for a new mother. This article helps you to take care of the mother in their emotional roller coaster of 9 months and taking care of the newborn.

How can partners help mothers during childbirth

From the day a woman has conceived, thoughts of all kinds gush to her mind and continue till the date she is about to deliver the baby. Thoughts about her physical appearance, mental health, the journey ahead in taking care of the baby, and a lot more dominate her mind. It is important that you, as a partner, support her fully during the childbirth. Let us see how:

For partners, it is common to feel lost in the chaos and excitement of preparing for the new child. It can be quite challenging to find what a partner should do during childbirth. But it's important to remember that your presence and participation is valuable. Know these crucial tips to help the mother during childbirth:

  1. Know it all as much as mothers know about childbirth: Childbirth classes along with your partners before you reach the date of delivery. If not as much as the mother, you should know the basics of birth. Understand the general flow of birth, the different stages, and phases of labor, and the mechanics of birth will make you confident.
  2. How can you be comforting to your partner: without playing the guessing game much, shoot a question at your partner, 'what kind of support do you seek from me when you imagine you giving birth?' Talk to your partner about what happens during pregnancy and birth and you might automatically know what is expected out of you.
  3. Meet people who will be involved in childbirth: it gives you confidence: attend your partner's prenatal appointments, the hospital tour, doula meetings, and anything else that's relevant to know who will be present for your child's birth. Getting to know people who will be involved gives you more confidence to support your partner.
  4. Talk to other fathers to know more/ ask questions: there are fellow fathers too when you make hospital visits. Talk to them, know their experiences, ask questions to gather all knowledge from the first-hand experience.

Partner's role during postpartum

Postpartum or the first six weeks after birth is a crucial period. Although defined as six weeks, going un-pregnant takes a little longer than that. This is the period when you have become a parent, there are big events in life that will take time to shape and evolve. Pregnancy classes teach how to take care of the baby and the mother postpartum; so if you have attended a few, you are at the advantage of knowing things better. Take a look at these tips to prepare well before the events start occurring:

  1. Know what your partner wants: talk to your partner and find out how is it going to work. What kind of help and support is your partner looking at after the arrival of the child? Be it getting your hands dirty with diaper changes or rocking the baby back to sleep after feedings, or cooking meals while she takes care of the baby; every small help counts and gives relaxation to the mother. Talk about the expectations and have a smooth life postpartum.
  2. Plan your time off from work: plan your leaves around the time of birth well in advance. Coordinate with your partner and family members about who is going to stay for how long to take care of the baby so that you can devote maximum time.
  3. Determine sleep timings: good sleep during the postpartum period is tricky and lack of sleep will affect you and your partner to a great extent.  Although there is no practical way to prepare for sleepless or broken sleep nights, you can discuss ways in which the two of you will try to help each other catch up on sleep throughout the day
  4. Taking care of mental health: One out of 10 fathers experience a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder in the first six months after birth, and one out of eight women will also experience it. There are signs to determine mental health issues; don't ignore them. Talk to a mental health professional as soon as possible if any one of you feels disturbed.
  5. Keep the sex and intimacy intact: possibilities are that your partner may not be ready for any kind of sexual play or touching after six weeks of giving birth. Reasons are obvious; the birth process itself, taking care of the newborn, breastfeeding, and lack of sleep drains a new mother. Hormone fluctuation also plays a role in making the shift back into a sexual being. However, you can maintain intimacy by being close during the postpartum period. Intimacy, just in the form of holding hands, cuddling, or a good long hug can set things right many times.

Get your hands dirty for the newborn care

However, you have not given birth to the baby, but you are an equal parent, a partner to your spouse, and emotional and mental support to the mother and the child. Stay calm and be prepared for any sort of help that the two require. Taking care of a newborn is a whole new experience and requires the utmost safety, awareness, and hygiene. Here are a few ways you can help in taking care of the baby:

  • Embrace parenthood: your baby must be getting used to getting things done by the mother. But be persistent and start helping with settling, bathing, changing, and playing with the baby. Improve your handling skills by holding the baby each time he is ready for some new activity.
  • Spend one on one time with the baby: parents, including mothers, might develop a bonding either for the first time they look at each other; sometimes this might take a little longer. Spend one-on-one time with your newborn baby to establish a bond and give some relaxed time to your partner.
  • Make time for play: talk to your baby, sing along, make faces, make noises so that kids learn communication skills at an early stage. This also diverts the baby from the mother's attention so that she can be relaxed.
  • Indulge in infant massage: a massage session with your baby can prove to be a boon for you and the baby both. While it helps in making the baby healthy, provide nourishment; it also is a good chance to bond with your baby.

More than anything else, make time for the two of you. Once the excitement for the newborn is over, both of you can feel exhausted and feel worn down by the constant routine of taking care of the baby and doing the chores. There is no time for yourselves, there is a lack of sleep and stress can take a toll on the relationship too. You might see changes in each other, but learn to embrace them. Taking the time to talk to each other is often the best way to handle these issues.

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