Men often feel at a loss when it comes to helping their wives through pregnancy and labor. We can't possibly identify with the experience, so how can we be of assistance? The number one thing that women need most during pregnancy and labor is support; if she doesn't feel you're behind her one hundred percent, she'll feel like she's alone during the entire process.
Go To Classes
When you get home from work in the evenings, the last thing you want to do is drive your wife to her pre-natal classes and sit through hour-long discussions and guided exercises. You'd rather sit down on the couch with a beer and catch up on ESPN news. But the classes are probably important to your wife and they don't work as well when both partners aren't present. Try not to miss any of her classes, and if you have to, offer to reschedule for another night.
Rub Her Feet
Pregnancy is a long ordeal, and when your wife begins to gain baby weight, her feet will endure most of the strain. When you're getting ready to go to bed or lounging on the couch watching TV, offer to rub her feet for a while. She'll appreciate the gesture and you'll feel better about making a contribution. If your wife doesn't like to have her feet rub, consider a back massage or a neck rub. Anything that helps alleviate the strain in her muscles will be beneficial.
Whenever you and your wife go out or if you're working together in the yard, make sure she's drinking plenty of fluids. It's easy for women who are pregnant to dehydrate, and they often forget to drink water and juice. Keep a thermos handy wherever you are and find out what types of drinks she's craving from day to day. Sodas and coffee are not adviseable, but juice, water, milk and tea are fine as long as your physician approves.
Helping Your Wife Through Pregnancy and Labor: Pack Something Special
When you're backing her maternity bag -- the one you'll take with you to the hospital -- pack something special she doesn't know about, such as her favorite pillow or a stuffed animal she's had since childhood. Being in the hospital is unnerving even for a pregnancy, and she'll appreciate having something with her that reminds her of home. You might even want to surprise her with a baby book so she can record her experiences as they occur.
Advocate for Your Wife
In the hospital, nurses and doctors will be busy and harried, and might overlook something that your wife needs. Don't make her speak for herself; be her advocate and speak up for her. For example, if she's requested additional pillows and the nurse forgets, step outside and remind them at the nurse's station. She'll be too tired and worn out to do it for herself.
Helping Your Wife Through Pregnancy and Labor: Never Leave in an Emergency
If (God forbid) something were to go wrong during labor, stay by your wife's side. Try to keep her informed as you learn what's going on, and be completely supportive. Encourage her to stay calm and do what the doctor asks as soon as he asks it -- don't be afraid to be honest during the entire process.