One of you will be pregnant and one of you won't. That means one of you will be doing the bulk of the work -- growing and birthing a child -- and the other will be a supporting role.
Playing a supporting role, however, does not mean one needs to be passive. How much energy a spouse puts into supporting a pregnant woman can have a significant impact on how healthy and enjoyable her experience of bringing a baby into the world is.
Supporting her during pregnancy
Feeling a sense of partnership during pregnancy can be a great help and a great boost to the spirits. Make it a project for both of you to maintain optimal health during the pregnancy and postpartum periods. Take over whatever tasks would expose her to unhealthy toxins, from painting the nursery to changing the litter box. Partners should consider limiting alcohol and caffeine right alongside moms. In fact, partners would be wise to take it upon themselves to help moms maintain the most healthful and nutritious diet possible. Beneficial, too, is assistance in researching the effects on pregnancy and nursing of whatever drugs she might be offered.
Another great way for spouses to help is for them to take on many of the nonphysical baby-related chores. This will relieve a lot of stress! Make it your job to research medical coverage for pregnancy and delivery. Also research both your family medical histories -- patterns of diabetes, birth defects, etc.; you may be asked them, and you'll definitely want to be informed if a problem comes up. Look into how your family will manage financially, and make a plan. Money issues, particularly fear of the unknown, can create a lot of tension. Mitigate it to the extent you can. Finally, plan some romantic moments for you and your spouse. A relaxed, happy mom is a healthy mom. Her body is doing a lot of hard work. Treat her well!
Page 1 of 3 -- Things may begin to change as you both approach your due date. Find out what to expect on page 2
Helping her as the due date nears
Research family-leave options, since being available once the baby arrives is perhaps the most important way you can be supportive. Ideally, both parents will be able to take at least four to six weeks off from work around the baby's delivery date. Remember, waiting for a baby to come is no picnic. If your partner finds herself still pregnant past her due date, attend to her needs, both physical and emotional. This can be an extremely uncomfortable time.
Foot and body massages for the pregnant woman can't be beat! You can hire a massage therapist or bodywork specialist or send your partner to a spa, but getting a massage at home from the one she loves may make her feel the best of all. Your massaging her can add to the growing bond you both feel as you approach labour and delivery.
Finally, take a prenatal class together and decide together what kind of labour you hope for. Educating yourself about what physically happens during labour will make you much more helpful to your partner when the time comes. In a calm moment, work together on a birth plan, knowing that you won't have ultimate control over the events that will transpire. Where will you be having the baby, and what types of pain medication will your partner want? Who will be present at the delivery and who will not? Most likely, it will be your job to be the gatekeeper, and it will be much easier to limit people ahead of time than to be in the position of asking a close friend or family member to kindly leave the room during delivery.
Being there for her during the labour
Take a deep breath. If you can stay calm, it will help her stay calm.
Do your best to stick to the birth plan. Early on, a big part of this will be reminding her that there's a break between each contraction. Trust her intuition about when it's time to go to the hospital. You may be the one with the stopwatch, but she'll be the best one to determine when her contractions are strong enough and close enough together to be close to giving birth.
Page 2 of 3 -- Learn what to expect when you first bring Baby home on page 3
Once the baby comes
You may both be overwhelmed by stress and loss of sleep in the days and weeks immediately following your baby's birth. This is normal, and it'll be healthy for both of you to remember that. The exhaustion and anxiety will ease over time. Meanwhile, be patient and kind to your spouse and remind her to be patient and kind to you.
A new mother will be healing physically and emotionally as her hormones surge and drop. Give her space and time to heal. Offer to watch the baby while she takes baths, gets massages, or takes time for herself. Or enjoy the fresh air together as a family with the baby in a stroller or sling.
You also will serve your family and friends well by coordinating the help people offer to give and limiting the number of social visits in the early weeks. If people ask, tell them exactly what you'd like or what you need -- nutritious meals dropped off, laundry taken out of the house and returned folded and clean.
You may feel pressure from outside your home -- from work or other commitments -- but keep your priorities straight: Your baby and family must come first in the early days. Everybody will feel much more settled much sooner if you all can establish and stick to a routine.
Last, remember that the day your baby arrives is the beginning of a new chapter in life. Work together as a family to create the healthiest environment you can for all of you to learn and grow. You are embarking on a new journey together. It is beautiful, but it can also be chaotic at first. Collect yourself when you're feeling stressed -- perhaps through exercise, if you can get away. With your love, support, and energy, your family will build a healthy home.
|Excerpted from Organic Baby: Simple Steps for Healthy Living by Kimberly Rider. Copyright 2007 by Kimberly Rider. Excerpted with permission from Chronicle Books. All right reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the publisher.|
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