When writing a birth plan, it is common to focus primarily on, well, the birth itself! You spend time taking classes, reading, researching, and talking to friends, preparing for what to expect on the big day.
As birth doulas, we encourage you to to learn about these things, and communicate with your partner so that you are on the same page as you start out together as new parents. More than just practical thoughts though, we also encourage you to think about ways that you will bond as a new family.
Don't Forget the Partner
This is just one of many tips we have for you. While your focus and thoughts may be primarily on the new mom during delivery and afterward, it is important to remember that labor and birth are just the beginning of parenting, which for many people, is a shared job.
Keep Yourself Fueled
Often times as doulas we see partners who are so focused on supporting their loved one through labor, birth, and the first several hours after, their own self-care needs go by the wayside. Sometimes the combination of low blood sugar plus blood and birth can make you a little woozy, and you want to be as present as possible for these unforgettable moments!
Often when we are grabbing a snack or drink for mom after the birth itself, we will get one for you too. Packing some snacks and a big water bottle in your hospital bag can also help you to make sure you keep up your energy in those first several hours.
It can also be helpful to pack your own pillow and blanket. You might not get to use them, but you will be glad to have something comfy if you do catch a moment to rest!
Think About What Will Be Meaningful
When planning for your labor, talk about what will be meaningful to you both during your labor and birth. Is there a song that holds a special meaning to you both? Do you want photography of the two of you working through labor, and in the immediate moments after birth, as a brand new family? Do you want to help cut the cord, or even possibly be the one to "catch" your new baby at the moment of birth?
While the needs of the laboring mother, and her health especially, come first, it's important to talk about what needs or desires you both might have, and how you can incorporate these into your labor, before it happens.
Encouraging Bonding from the Start
We all have heard the idea that it is ideal for babies to spend the first hour of life on their mother's chest after birth when possible. Being skin-to-skin promotes bonding between mother and baby.
The same is true for your partner! Partners, we encourage you to find at least one uninterrupted hour in the first 24 hours after birth where you will get your new baby skin-to-skin on your chest, and snuggle close. Studies document the powerful effects this close contact will have on your baby physiologically, as well as emotionally as the powerful hormone oxytocin is released, causing you to bond!