Congratulations! You’re on the journey of a lifetime alongside your partner and I’m here to support you as well. We will definitely go over the comfort measures and preparing for labour as a partner during the prenatals, but here are a few things worth sharing with you.
Self-care during your partner’s pregnancy, labour and beyond the postpartum period is as important for you as it is for your partner. I’m sure you know, but we really do provide our best care when we are taken care of ourselves.
During labour, it’s especially important to honour your needs as you care for your partner. Be sure to eat and drink well, go to the bathroom, and take the time and space to process as you need. Not only is this is an incredibly powerful and transformational time for your partner but an incredibly power and transformational time for you as well. Honour whatever comes up so that you can both integrate the moment and support your partner.
If you’re curious how partners and doulas work together, you can check out this link for a little bit more info.
2. Hip Squeezes
Birthing people love doulas because we know how to give proper support with hip squeezes – you can get in there and give them too. We will most likely practice these at a prenatal appointment, but here’s your chance to get a headstart.
Hip squeeze video – Skip to 0:48
Hip squeeze – Slightly different technique – 0:30.
Birth ball and birth ball – great for labouring at home and/or if partner is feeling back pain.
3. Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is thought to affect around 10% of women in Canada and unfortunately many cases go unreported or untreated. Here is the evidence-based article.
Most importantly – baby blues following birth are normal and expected, but postpartum depression can extend far past the baby blues. The estimate is that around 80% of women will experience the baby blues.
Baby blues symptoms are:
- Weepiness or crying for no apparent reason
- Insomnia (even when the baby is sleeping)
- Mood changes
- Poor concentration
These symptoms will come and go over the first fourteen days or so, and the episodes will last a few minutes or a few hours a day.
If you notice that the symptoms do not go away and have been persisting, then please talk to your partner and see what’s up.
Of course it’s difficult to have these conversations but they’re absolutely crucial to the health of your partner and your new baby.
Postpartum depression lasts much longer than hours, much longer than a week or two and the symptoms are more severe.
- Sadness and/or extreme irritability
- Lack of interest or pleasure in activities
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Increased or decreased need for sleep
- Extreme fatigue
- Cannot think clearly or make decisions
- Guilty feelings, especially about the baby
- Feels inadequate, especially as a mother
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Another resource you can use to gauge and see whether you need more help is the Edinburgh Perinatal/Postnatal Depression Scale – use the scoring guide. It is helpful to go through it yourself and again with your partner. After you have your results, be sure to follow up with the appropriate medical care AND self-care (running your partner a bath, ordering in their favourite food, a little back rub, whatever you know your partner likes best).
I do not have the medical training to diagnose or treat postpartum depression, but I can help. If at any point you are worried about the health or safety of your partner or your baby, please get in touch (416-568-0015). I can help you figure out what step to take next.
4. Tips + Tricks
Here I’ll be adding in some odds & ends of things I’ve learned/seen with different families that birthing people/new parents really appreciate their partners for doing.
- Try NOT to leave your breastfeeding partner home alone without bringing them a plate of snacks and water before you leave. It’s one less task for them; breastfeeding or not, they need the energy.
- Give your partner at least one baby-free hour a day. Yes, this will be difficult in the beginning because often they aren’t going to want to be separated – and that’s totally normal but, it’s amazing what a hot shower can do. Ask what works best for them (morning, afternoon, evening) and take the baby. For one hour give your partner uninterrupted time to do whatever they want. An hour might seem like a lot at first. You can start with smaller increments of time if that feels better for you – 20 mins, 45 minutes. Give them ideas; coffee date, shower, Netflix, ice cream in bed, FaceTime chat, a walk, etc. This one hour a day will help balance their new role as a mother while still caring for themselves as a partner, friend and their own person.
- Ideally sit down with your partner before baby is born and re-visit household duties. If your partner normally does laundry, prepares dinner, cleans the bathrooms and takes an older child to their after-school activities, this is most likely not going to feasible any more. Feeding and caring for a newborn is a full-time job and a full-time activity outside of a normal 9-5. The energy and time for chores will be significantly less than before.
Discuss with your partner what duties you would be most helpful to take on for the month or few (or life!). Some partners might be in denial and feel that they can do everything they once did before giving birth; if that’s the case, be prepared to fill in the blanks in the household duties without being asked to. The easiest expectation for post-birth is that you’re now responsible for many more household duties than before. It may not be forever, but is certainly for now. Your partner will fully appreciate your willingness to help out and their own recovery will also be swifter and easier.