Be Her Advocate
Don't wait until your partner is in the throes of gut-wrenching contractions to find out what kind of assistance she'd like from you. Discuss her birth plan in advance -- find out how she feels about episiotomies and what her expectations of the doctor are. "When Mom is in pain, Dad can often articulate her needs better and make sure her wishes are met," Dr. Kilpatrick says. At the same time, be flexible once labor has started -- your partner might change her mind, or the situation may call for a new plan of action. "Nobody wants a C-section, but remember that things don't always go as planned," says labor nurse Lisa Castillo, of George Washington University Hospital, in Washington, D.C. "Still, feel free to ask questions about your options -- especially if your wife is in too much pain to ask herself."