Pregnancy is a partnership, but the experience sure depends on your perspective.As the father, here’s the upside: you don’t have to carry a baby or go through labor. The downside? You therefore have no idea what’s really going on.
You’re full of questions, and it’s hard to know which ones will get you smacked.
We spoke with Dr. Anthony Canino, OB/GYN with First Physicians Group, to get some much needed advice on how to properly support your partner through pregnancy, delivery and beyond.
Here’s what we’ve pieced together so far.
Should I attend prenatal visits with my partner?
“The first visit is always important and fathers are strongly encouraged to attend,” says Dr. Canino. Here’s why:
- At this visit, you and your partner and your doctor will go over personal and family health history questions and outline a maternity care plan. There may also be routine blood work and possibly even a lollipop, if you behave.
- During your partner’s prenatal care, specific ultrasound appointments will be scheduled. These are important to attend because they will enable both parents to have the opportunity to see the movement and growth of your baby. You’re also able to ask to specific questions, but it’s unlikely the baby will respond.
- Appointments from 36 weeks until birth will include detailed discussions about the labor and delivery process. Labor plans and preferences will be discussed, as well as when to come to the hospital. These appointments are a great opportunity to start preparing for what to expect in this final stage of pregnancy and to catch up on magazines you would never personally subscribe to.
How can I support my partner during pregnancy?
Lots of ways!
- A good partner can help promote healthy pregnancy by encouraging proper nutrition and regular physical activity. This means helping to plan and prepare nutritious meals, as well as being proactive in incorporating some light activity, such as scheduling evening walks, for example.
- Approach this new phase in life as a team. Work together to determine what is needed to prepare for your baby, such as designing your nursery, researching baby-specific equipment, and baby-proofing your home.
- But most importantly…
“Support your partner by simply being present, involved and understanding as she works through the emotions and feelings that come along with pregnancy,” says Dr. Canino.
5 Concrete Steps to Take In Preparation for Labor & Delivery
- Attend prepared childbirth education and baby bundle class together. The baby bundle class at Sarasota Memorial Hospital – Sarasota campus will cover baby care basics, breastfeeding basics and essential safety techniques like infant CPR and what to do if your baby is choking. Classes are also available in Spanish. Click here to learn more and sign up.
- Tour the hospital at which you will be delivering, if possible. Some hospitals, such as Sarasota Memorial Hospital – Sarasota, provide virtual tours for expectant parents as well.
- Start looking for a pediatrician and schedule interviews. With First Physicians Group Pediatrics, you can find board-certified pediatricians conveniently located all across Sarasota and Manatee counties, with offices in Sarasota, Venice, Lakewood Ranch and Osprey.
- Purchase and install an infant car seat. (This will be your first test of many, when it comes to assembling bizarre plastic contrivances for your child using only poorly diagrammed instructions. Do not fail.)
- Prepare your home for your new baby. This means setting up your nursery and buying all the necessary baby essentials, i.e. diapers, clothes, etc., as well as removing any free-roaming venomous snakes or large birds of prey from the residence.
The Dos and Don’ts of Being a Supportive Partner During Labor & Delivery
DO: Listen to your partner – be mentally and physically present.
DO NOT: Hire a stunt double to dress in your clothes and pretend to be you.
DO: Help time and record contractions.
DO NOT: Ask her to time her contractions to the beat of your favorite song for TikTok.
DO: Help your partner by providing assistance during the first stage of labor with counter pain exercises and techniques learned in childbirth class.
DO NOT: Tell your partner to, “walk it off.”
DO: Provide emotional support and encouragement.
DO NOT: Do anything remotely approaching the opposite.
Dr. Canino’s 8 Rules to Being a Supportive Partner Postpartum
- Help your partner to and from postnatal doctor appointments for her and for the baby, as they may not be able to drive after delivery.
- Help with grocery shopping, dishes, laundry and other household chores while your partner recovers and works to feed your baby.
- Ensure your partner is getting proper nutrition and enough water.
- Help dispense any postpartum medication as described by her physician.
- Check on your partner’s mental well-being, and ask for help if there are any signs of post-partum depression.
- Encourage & support your partner if they are breastfeeding.
- Wake up with your partner to support and help with nighttime feeds if possible so they are not alone, or trade off if utilizing bottle feeds so each partner gets some sleep.
- Encourage your partner to nap when the baby naps.
To hear more from the expert directly, visit Dr. Canino’s First Physicians Group profile here and schedule an appointment.