The Partner’s Role AFTER Baby Is Here
Your childbirth education classes probably prepared you for supporting your partner during labor and childbirth, but once your baby arrives your job in the birth room is not over. In fact, as you may have already guessed, it’s just beginning. But perhaps you don’t yet realize how important the role you play after your baby is born will be for the health, safety, and wellbeing of your family.
It Gets Busy!
The moments immediately following your baby’s birth, especially when it takes place within a hospital, are a flurry of activity. There are usually three or more care providers in the labor and delivery room with you (and many more if you are in the operating room after a cesarean) whose job will be to carry out several procedures on your baby.
Your partner will also be getting routinely assessed immediately postpartum, for things like bleeding, any tearing that may have occurred, and confirming their uterus has begun to contract back to its pre-pregnancy size (it takes roughly a month to return to its original size but should start to contract immediately postpartum to avoid additional bleeding). Unfortunately, the stitch-up and uterine massage are no fun for them! Hopefully, their endorphins are flooding their body, but no matter what, it’s no cakewalk.
When you consider what your partner has just experienced and how they will be feeling in the immediate aftermath of birth—everything from euphoria to exhaustion to disbelief—it’s safe to assume that they won’t be in the headspace to field questions from care providers or be up to the task of advocating for themselves or the baby if the need arises. Therefore, as the supporting partner, you should be prepared to take the lead on communication on behalf of your partner so that their primary focus can be forming a bond with the baby with minimal distractions from the staff.
Before receiving an evidence-based education about childbirth and the postpartum period, it’s common for birthing parents to consent to every policy and procedure that takes place at the hospital. It’s only after receiving an education about the disconnects between evidence-based practices and outdated hospital procedures that families realize they need to become active participants to ensure the best care is provided to both parent and child. As the non-birthing partner, you hold the power in the room to make these preferences known to the staff so that everyone is on the same page.
You Can Be an Advocate for Your Birthing Partner
The best way to communicate with your care providers is to create allies within the birth room. By learning each of your care provider’s names (especially the nurses who are often the unsung heroes), making eye contact, and using clear and kind language to express your birth preferences, the staff will understand your engagement in the process and be more willing to work with you in the event your requests run counter to their current policies. If for some reason your partner’s questions and concerns are not being heard, it’s up to you to circle back with your providers until they acknowledge and answer one or both of you.
If you have hired a doula, they will also help remind you of what you want to communicate. It’s part of your doula’s job to give you prompts when necessary to remember what you want to relay to the birth team because they will be intimately familiar with your birth preferences for during and after birth. You will likely be exhausted by the time baby arrives so have patience with yourself.
Keep Your Partner Feeling Informed and Comfortable
Occasions may arise when your baby is taken away from your partner so that your care providers can further evaluate them for any potential concerns they may have. In these instances, follow your baby to the baby warmer so you can remain the eyes and ears for your partner and they can remain in the loop of what is happening. And if a surprise trip to the NICU happens, you can always use Facetime so that your partner can see what is going on in real-time. If your partner is unable to offer skin-to-skin contact, you can do the honors yourself.
By asking questions and gathering information on behalf of your partner and baby in the moments that immediately follow birth, you can foster a safe, protected, loving feeling no matter where they are born. You can set the tone for positive communication with your care providers and, with the proper education and preparation, you can ensure that the best evidence-based care for your beautiful new baby.
To learn how your partner can solidly protect your postpartum room and the wishes you have for your baby, click here to take our Newborn Procedures course.