Getting ready for the birth - for dads and partners
Planning for the birth
Everyone’s experience of labour and birth is different, so it can be hard to know what to expect. We have information to help you feel more prepared.
Read about signs that labour is starting and the different stages of labour.
Supporting your partner before labour
You’re likely to feel more confident during labour if you know what your partner’s wishes are. Here are some things you can do to feel more prepared:
- Write a birth plan together.
- Pack the hospital bag together.
- Ask your partner what they do or do not want to happen during labour and birth.
- Visit the maternity unit together.
- Go to antenatal classes together.
- Think about whether you would like to cut the umbilical cord after your baby is born – speak to the midwife in advance if you’d like to do this.
The health visitor
Your health visitor will offer to come and see you before your baby is born. They will help to make sure you and your partner are feeling ready for your baby’s arrival. For example, they can help you plan where your baby will sleep and explain how you can make sure your home is safe for your baby as they grow.
Your health visitor is there to support you as well as your partner.
Read more about how your health visitor can help.
During labour and birth (being the birth partner)
When your partner is in labour, you might feel unsure of what to do. All of the focus is on the mum or birthing parent and baby so you may feel like a spare part or unsure of what’s happening.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Knowing what’s happening and why can help you feel more included.
Premature, or preterm, birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. We have more information for partners and dads-to-be who want to know more about premature birth.
Supporting your partner
As the birth partner, you can make sure your partner’s needs and wishes are met. You may need to make decisions on their behalf if they’re not able to, so it’s important that you know what they do or do not want to happen during and after the birth.
Other ways you can support your partner during labour and birth include:
- being there with them
- helping to keep them comfortable – you could help them change position, massage their back and shoulders or give them sips of water
- reminding them of breathing and relaxation techniques
- supporting their decisions
- helping them communicate with the midwife or doctor.
We have lots of information about giving birth, including birth choices, signs of labour and what happens during labour.
Your partner may choose to have a caesarean section (c-section) or they may need an unplanned c-section to deliver the baby safely. Read about how you can support them during and after their c-section.
After your baby is born
Find out more about how to care for your new baby and your role as a new parent.
More support and information
BBC Tiny Happy People has tips and advice on helping with the birth.
Williams M (2020). Fathers Reaching Out - Why Dads Matter: 10 years of findings on the importance of fathers’ mental health in the perinatal period. https://dadmatters.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/MARK_WILLIAMS_FATHERS_REACHING_OUT_PMH_REPORT10_SEP_2020-2.pdf
NHS. Tips for your birth partner. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/labour-and-birth/what-happens/tips-for-your-birth-partner/ (Page last reviewed: 17 March 2020. Next review due: 17 March 2023)
Public Health England (2015) Healthy child programme: rapid review to update evidence. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/healthy-child-programme-rapid-review-to-update-evidence