The fact that pregnancy and childbirth is almost completely a woman’s responsibility doesn’t seem fair to us at times. We have to go through all the hormonal changes, weight gain, emotional periods, pain, soreness, and anxiety for 9 long months, but then it doesn’t stop after that. Although the female role in this process is the most dominant, there are still plenty of ways for men to help throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn stage.
Women tend to take on a lot of responsibility in the role of mom because it’s just our nature. When a man takes some of that burden off of her, it can help your relationship and the future of your family. Making her feel beautiful, helping around the house, and most importantly, caring for the baby are the best ways to offer assistance.
Here are the most important ways for dad to help through pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn stage:
The emotions and hormones are running wild for a woman during pregnancy. These new thoughts and ideas of becoming a mom can be overwhelming to us at times. Balancing work, home, marriage, other children, family, social life, and more while going through one of the biggest bodily changes in your life can really be stressful.
This is the perfect time for your partner to step in and help out with some of those everyday tasks to lighten up your load both physically and emotionally. With the changes that your body is undergoing during pregnancy, it puts some physical limitations on things you can do. Here are some ways that dad can help out during this time:
Especially during the 3rd trimester, a woman’s body is really feeling all of those aches and pains. Full body massages, foot rubs, scalp rubs, and anything else that feels good for her is definitely a way to get on her good side. Even sending her out for a prenatal massage would be a great way to make her feel better when that soreness kicks in.
Related Post: Gifts For a New Mom That Your Know She Will Love
Helping with the household chores
If dad can do the cooking or cleaning himself, that would be so helpful. Let her kick her swollen feet up on the couch and relax for a few hours without having to get housework done. Even hiring someone to clean the house once in awhile or picking up take out a couple times a week is a huge help.
Women love to feel beautiful and pregnancy is a time where sometimes we feel less than that. We’re seeing our body change in ways we could have never imagined, making us feel down on ourselves physically. Just making positive comments about her appearance, mood, the baby, and your future can help in a way you can’t even imagine.
Do what she says
Well, shouldn’t men always be doing this? But especially when your wife is pregnant! If she asks you to paint the nursery, do it. If she asks you to pick up dinner, do it. If she asks you to come to the store to start the baby registry, do it. And don’t complain!
Take a class
Just so you’re both fully prepared, make sure to take a childbirth and baby basics class. They should be offered by your local hospital, healthcare system, or local baby centers. Don’t make her go by herself because you’re just as much a part of this process. In fact, it’s helpful for 2 people to remember facts and tips given since it’s hard to recall things you’ve learned while you’re giving birth.
Related Post: How to Prepare Yourself For Breastfeeding Your Newborn
Follow along with pregnancy updates
I used to send my husband the weekly update during my pregnancy so he could read about how big the fetus was getting and all the different parts of her body that were developing. I wanted him to know how big she was and how the pregnancy was progressing from a medical standpoint so we could have conversations about it. Dad can even sign up himself for the What to Expect App so he can follow along himself. It will even surprise your partner when you know that this week your baby is the size of a cantaloupe!
Pack your bags
Not only does mom need a hospital bag packed, but so does dad! He will be there just as long as she will so get that packing done early. Check out the necessities for dad’s hospital bag here.
Related Post: Essentials for your Hospital Delivery Bag
Plan the delivery together
If you’re considering a birth plan for your delivery, both partners should be involved in this together. Dad will have to be the one communicating most of her needs during birth so it’s helpful for him to know exactly what she wants during childbirth. Check out how to make the ultimate birth plan here.
During labor and delivery
Although labor and delivery is a very tough time for mom, it can be a traumatic experience for a man, as well. Seeing the mother of your child going through so much pain and feeling helpless can be very hard. As much as they wish they could take the pain away from us and put it on themselves, it’s just not possible. However, there are many ways that dad can assist in the process.
Here are some things dad can do during childbirth:
Time the contractions
Once labor begins, you probably won’t be able to do much of anything else besides think about the pain and getting that baby out. You’ll need to start timing the contractions to know when it’s time to head to the hospital. Dad can download a contraction timer app on the phone to make this easy. You just push the button when the contraction is starting and ending to get a concise time for how far they are apart. This way you don’t have to worry about timing it yourself, just yelling when it starts and stops.
Related Post: 33 Things Every Woman Needs to Know About Childbirth
A woman will need all the help she can get to take her mind off the physical pain she is going through at the time. Whether it be playing music, rubbing her back, getting her water, or holding up the phone so she can watch her favorite reality tv show, this can provide immense assistance for her. Although some women may just want silence and to be left alone, so respect any of her wishes.
Related Post: How I Managed the Pain During 4 Natural Childbirths
Continue the compliments through childbirth! This time, along with making her feel beautiful, dad needs to provide encouraging words throughout labor and delivery. There will be times when a woman feels like giving up from the pain and exhaustion. Let her know how amazing she is doing, she can do it, and how proud you are of her. Here are some great examples of Things NOT to Say to a Woman in Labor
Following along with doctor’s updates and asking questions
There’s a lot that goes on in a delivery room that you both will have no idea about. The machines, wires, drugs, paperwork, and various health care providers can be overwhelming. Since mom will have a hard time keeping up with everything that is going on, it’s up to dad to stay informed and ask lots of questions. The nurses and doctors don’t always give you all the updates and let you know what’s going on at all times, so. make sure you’re asking questions to stay up-to-date on mom’s progression through labor.
Updating family and friends
Everyone will want to know how labor is going and when the baby will be arriving. If you have chosen to let other’s know about the progression, dad can be the one giving the text and phone call updates throughout labor.
Once the baby is delivered, dad will actually have more work to do in regards to care of the baby than you. Mom needs all the rest she can get after those 9 long months and the crazy experience of childbirth. Letting her rest and stay in bed is the best thing for her so dad needs to get ready to take on a lot of responsibility in the hospital.
Keep track of baby’s feedings and diaper changes
It’s important to follow along with your baby’s health during those first few days so you can communicate how your baby is doing to the doctors. Download an app like Baby Tracker or jot down information by hand, such as: Start times of each feeding, which breast the baby was on (R or L), and how long the baby was feeding, for each nursing session.
Burp the baby in between feedings
Burping a baby is very important for their comfort and to reduce spit ups and reflux. If mom is the one breastfeeding, let dad take on the role of burping.
Change diapers and baby’s clothes when soiled
Newborns will need about 10-12 diaper changes a day and will need to be changed after every feeding! Dad can take the responsibility of all these changes throughout the day.
Strip the baby down to wake up for feedings
Newborn babies are especially sleepy. Some will sleep all day if you let them. You’ll need to do some serious wake up time so that your baby will get all of his feedings in. Dad can use some of the tricks like stripping down, using a cold wash cloth, ice cubes, tickling his feet, etc. to wake the baby up so he can finish a full feeding.
Swaddle when done feeding
Most babies will enjoy the comfort and tightness of being swaddled so dad can practice the swaddling by doing it after every feeding and diaper change. My favorite swaddles are the velcro SwaddleMe swaddles. They’re so much better, tighter, and easier to use than the hospital receiving blankets that they give you.
Skin to skin time on his chest
Bonding between dad and baby is just as important as mom and baby. Dad can take off his shirt to lay with baby on his chest to give him that warmth and love he needs after just coming out of the womb.
Take baby in and out of bassinet for feedings
Mom shouldn’t be doing too much activity at all, so even picking up the baby should be handled by dad.
Bring you items like nursing pillow, water bottle, phone, etc.
At this time, your partner should still be catering to all your needs. Anything mom needs, dad needs to grab it.
Calling/texting family and friends
Making sure to inform all the important contacts that the baby was born and mom and baby are doing well.
Taking photos and collecting memories
Even though no woman wants photos of themselves after going through childbirth, take them anyway! You will be glad that you did. Dad can take all the photos of the baby and mom and baby because these moments will go by so quickly.
Recall information from health care professionals
Make sure dad is listening very well when the doctors, nurses, and lactation consultants are giving you pointers. A mom’s brain will probably be a little foggy at this point, so hopefully he can remember some of the tricks she has taught you.
At home with a newborn
Similar to their role in the hospital, a dad can offer a lot of support with a newborn during those first few days and weeks at home. You will still be in a lot of pain and sore so you should limit all activity. Here is a list of ways dad can help at home:
For baby and mom:
- Track feedings and diaper changes with Baby Tracker
- Burp the baby in between feedings
- Change diapers
- Change baby’s clothes
- Wake up in the middle of the night when baby wakes
- Swaddle when done feeding
- Strip the baby down to wake up for feedings
- Skin to skin contact on his chest
- Bring mom the nursing pillow, water, cell phone, etc.
- Take baby in and out of the bassinet for feedings
- Rocking and holding baby when fussy
- Take photos
- Give massages
For the house:
- Help with the chores
- Cook meals
- Grocery shop
- Order deliveries
- Calling/texting family and friends
As you can see, there are so many ways that dads can help during pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn stage. Take some of that responsibility off mom’s shoulders by coming up with even more unique ways to make her feel special, appreciated, and not alone.