Becoming a good doula/supportive husband
September 26, 2011 10:20 PM   Subscribe

Most useful things a husband can do in the third trimester.

Hi all,

My wife is currently on the 7th month of the pregnancy. While there are some books for men on how to "handle" the pregnancy, they are exactly that - survival guides on how to ride it out intact. While these were amusing in the first trimester, what I am looking for now is a set of very concrete resources on how I can constructively contribute.

I am specifically looking for any advice on:

1. Any resources in the Boston area that can be recommended for prenatal yoga, classes, etc.

2. Any books/videos on warning signs to look out for, exercises to do together, meals to cook, psychological preparation/support, how to be most "useful"/effective in the last 2 months of the pregnancy as well as during the delivery.

3. Typical things to look out for with insurance coverage (we both have health insurance through our work).

While there are tons of resources online, anything with a mefi seal of approval (or at least a nod) would be most appreciated.
posted by lapidus to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Give her support that she wants. May be hard to figure out ... I have nothing concrete, especially for your geograhic area, but:
Food, sex, cleaning, emotional. Be as "nice" as you can, keep your relationship tip-top. Offer LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
Solve her problems when you can, but when it is a headache/backache/otherache, just be her guy.

Classes: no idea, but it helps A LOT to be in shape for the event, although starting a healthful activity/exersize now is a little late; just help her keep up whatever she was doing already. Add kegels if they aren't part of the routine. And do them yourself!

Insurance: Call and ask what she wants to know! Of course there are no predictions for actual outcomes, but try to let her know you know what is covered and not to worry.

Food: Wash veggies! Cook the meat! Stay off of preserved meats like salame and bologna and uncooked cold-cuts +/- some cheese, cold cuts, I guess I mean to say.

Enjoy the last times without kid(s) for a long time!
posted by bebrave! at 10:49 PM on September 26, 2011

I'm seven months and a bit pregnant, although I'm in LA so I can't help with local stuff, and I have a wife, not a husband (but if there's some magically gendered aspect to being a good partner to a pregnant lady, well, there shouldn't be).

I'm not sure if you're asking for advice directly, or just for resources, but I'll briefly give you my experience anyway. The two biggest things I need right now, and suspect I will continue to need, are help getting comfortable (baths, extra pillows, places to put my feet up), and food. I have this strange and new thing going on right now where I don't feel the normal physical signs of hunger, probably because my stomach is so squashed. I don't know I need to eat until the low blood sugar feelings hit me and I realize I need to eat RIGHT NOW, but then I don't have the energy to decide what to eat or make it if it takes any time. I need my wife to ask me if I need food, make sure there are balanced and protein rich things to eat, and bring them to me, often quickly! Same thing with water, I need reminding to drink water and offers of something to drink. Left to myself I will often sit and get hungry and thirsty, it's a little bit pathetic.

My wife is awesome with chores like dishes and cat litter, and has been since the start. If she wasn't this would be a big ask right now, because the sink digs into my belly, hot water makes me feel weird, and bending and lifting are getting seriously awkward. It is so great when she fetches me something that is actually nearby but would necessitate an awkward motion for me to reach!

Books and resources will depend on your shared philosophies. We know what we like, but I'm not going to start another parenting debate and go there! I think generally whatever your wife is reading you should be reading too - just ask her what she has liked and why, and then read it, there are very few things for partners that are worth shit (our childbirth educator just lent us this, but we haven't looked at it yet). The Birth Partner is the only book she has read that I haven't, and apparently it has awesome tips on labor support like back rubs, positions and stuff you can do during labor to be useful.

Personally at this stage I'm moving on to baby care and parenting info rather than pregnancy stuff, and it's very comforting to feel like my wife is preparing for the next stage too. We've had lots of "what if" type conversations that have made us really feel on the same page.

Insurance I have no specific help on, you absolutely need to know your plan, but I'm not aware of any general pregnancy or birth related insurance tricks or pitfalls.

Good luck! I hope the next few months are awesome for us all!
posted by crabintheocean at 11:11 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am just barely in my third trimester now. Last week I had a major breakdown because I felt like I was doing too much around the house on my own and my husband wasn't helping enough. Of course, he had no idea until I told him through tears. So, have a conversation with your wife about what she needs you to take over for her, and accept the chores without question (except to ask how to do something if you don't know).

Make sure your wife feels beautiful. She's just getting to the stage where she feels huge, unwieldy, and undesirable. It's your job to remind her that you still find her sexy, still want to be with her, etc. This is not the time to turn down sexual advances if it's at all possible. And of course shower her with plenty of physical affection unrelated to bedroom activities. She really needs it right now.

Prenatal massages are good. If she complains about aches and pains, ask her what she's feeling so she has a chance to vent to someone, and you have a chance to understand what she's going through.

And always, always offer your help with anything you see her doing, or anything she tells you she's planning on doing.
posted by litnerd at 4:23 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

In the Boston area, you have Isis Maternity.

Great resource the first time around, sorta meh the second.
posted by zizzle at 4:35 AM on September 27, 2011

Oh, can write more later about Boston resources, but nak right now.

(get usd to the abbreviation "nak"....nursing at keyboard)
posted by zizzle at 4:38 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

The best things you can do are basically whatever she wants. That may sound trite but pregnancy is a fairly unique state. It is often unwieldy. So for example, if what she wants is to setup a nursery but putting all the things in drawers requires too much bending over, what she may need is someone to stock the drawers exactly as she would do it if she was more bendable. If what she wants is to sleep or nap or spend four weeks in the tub, whatever you can do - dinner, laundry, shopping - to make that possible goes a long way.

Books: The Birth Partner is excellent.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:41 AM on September 27, 2011

No specific resources, but my wife just had our third child recently. My single most useful bit of advice would be to pick up anything that falls upon the floor for her. From what I understand, the act of bending over to pick things up is the most frustrating and fatiguing repeated chore in the 3rd trimester.
posted by dgran at 6:01 AM on September 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

When my lady was pregnant I asked a sorta similar question and was rewarded with books and all sorts of stuff (some folks even sent me stuff in the mail!). I read them and honestly, HONESTLY didn't really get much from them. Any of them. We had a gloriously uneventful pregnancy and a gloriously uneventful infant who never had colic or even got sick, and now we've got a 9 month old bundle of nuttiness.

Before he was born, it was my job to get his room ready. I completely rewired our entire second floor, installed an attic pull down and trimmed it in, installed a tankless water heater, primed and painted his room, assembled all the crap people had given us (that we didn't wind up needing for the most part), and built a nifty set of shelves from scratch so we could conveniently put everything in one place for when he came. I already did most of our cooking and all the laundry.

My lady worked literally until the day our son was born, so every morning I got up a wee bit before she did to make her a fast breakfast (french toast sticks seemed to be her favorite) and a glass of juice, and I made sure all the "AH CRAP ITS TIME" stuff was in place in the car/house, and set up our neighbor to watch the dogs when it all came down.

After all that, you still can't prepare for EVERYTHING. No matter how many books you read, movies you watch, or whatever, when the time comes he'll (you'll) soldier through like a champion and when it's over you'll wonder how you did it.

My biggest and best advice is to RELAX. Take it EASY. Someone in my thread recommended an early-third-trimester vacation which we were lucky enough to take (right about this time last year, actually, our babies will have close birthdays!) and that was GENIUS. A super relaxed, one-last-trip-together to take funny tummy pictures and get away from family and coworkers and friends who all mean well but usually cross the line into annoying.

Don't fret this---because while there is no instruction manual, your body will know what to do.
posted by TomMelee at 6:09 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know your wife better than anyone here does, so I'm not going to make specific recommendations when it comes to emotional support.

The baby and birth aren't too traumatic. It's rearranging your life that takes its toll, IMO.

I know it's not real romantic, but anything you might want to get done in the next couple years? Do it NOW. Work your ass off so that you don't need to lift a finger for a while. Prepare to be absolutely held hostage. You may find that the kid fits into your routine really easily (our first did) but it may also absolutely destroy your ability to accomplish anything for a year or two.

Set the house up to run itself for a while. Get a freezer, freeze a boatload of meals.
Do any household projects that need doing. Painting, washing windows, fixing leaking fauces, etc. Think like an industrial engineer and spend some time streamlining all your daily processes. If you find yourself walking across three rooms to throw stuff away, put a trashcan at the point of garbage origin! Still pay bills with checks? Set up auto-pay. Find a cheap cleaning service. Get a dishwasher. Put a second laundry hamper in the baby's room. If your home already a little stuffed with stuff, throw away half of it because you're not going to believe how much baby junk you'll collect.

Oh, and start figuring out what you might want to *do* with a baby. Make a little list of potential outings after the baby is born, 'cause getting stuck in the house with a baby is seriously overwhelming. They really do pack up into a fairly portable package when they're new, so don't feel like you can't make slightly ambitious plans.
posted by pjaust at 6:16 AM on September 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Only things I can think of are that, if you have a boy, some plans don't cover routine circumcision. Also, most plans won't cover a doula.

So long as you plan to have the baby in a traditional hospital, insurance shouldn't be a problem. If you're planning on a birthing center type place, just make sure they're in your network if applicable.

Call your ins. if you have questions. Also, consult your summary plan description. Read the general exclusions or not covered section.

Federal law requires a minimum hospital stay allowance of 48 hours for a vaginal delivery and 96 hours for a c-section. That's from the time of delivery, not the time she's admitted. She can voluntarily leave any time she wants of course. But the hospital can't shoo her out any sooner than 48/96 hours. And health plans are required to cover, at a minimum, that length of stay.
posted by thatguyjeff at 6:58 AM on September 27, 2011

Clean and organize the house, even if you don't think it needs it! Especially as the end of the pregnancy nears, you wife might get into this nesting phase where she really wants and needs a super clean house, and she will be extremely grateful for whatever work you put in. Ask her what she'd like you to work on, then do that thing. Don't be too surprised if you find her in the kitchen at 4 am alphabetizing the spices or something.

Insurance: figure out coverage and procedure for getting a breastpump, if you're into that sorta thing.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:24 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Forget the pregnancy and birth, that is the easy part. Realistically, with a relatively modern health care system, you simply can't screw it up. You can end up disappointed or unfufilled when the birth plan goes out the window (and 50% of first time mothers are induced, so it often does), but ultimately you will have a baby.

So, get ready to have your world destroyed. Get a chest freezer and fill it with meals, store bought are fine. Recruit people to come over and get the baby out of the house for an hour each day. This is a lot easier if you have lots of helpful friends and relatives around, but it doesn't hurt to ask. We were still in agony a few weeks in, due to postpartum depression, a very low sleep baby, and an inability on our part to accept the early help we got. Get an air mattress set up somewhere away from the baby so at least one of you can sleep at any given time without having to hear the screaming. Roughly 20% of babies are colicky, which is a dispassionate way to say that they cry for hours at a time for no reason. Babies are hell, and we really felt we were ready. Get that support system in place for afterwards.
posted by wnissen at 7:32 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Research PPD, know the signs, know who to talk to at the hospital if you or your wife have a bad emotional response to the birth or a traumatic birth (probably the social worker), and gather a few local resources for PPD support.

& have at home in case of soreness:
colace (stool softener)
motrin and tylenol
water bottle for perianeal rinsing
soft/wet flushable wipes
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have to put baby on your plan pretty quickly, ask HR when

Make sure you get pre-authorization for delivery and stay afterwards and ask about co-pays

Hospital might allow you to pre-register, do so if possible
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:47 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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