Partners of pregnant women play a vital role in supporting the journey of motherhood. Your awareness of the risk factors of stillbirth, together with your encouragement and your support of your partner, can contribute to a safer pregnancy.
How dads and partners can help reduce the risks
As a dad or a partner, you naturally want to do everything you can to safeguard the health and welfare of both mother and baby. The good news is that there are some simple things that you can do – and encourage mum to do – that can have a real impact on reducing the risk of stillbirth.
If you are a smoker, you should quit. And if your partner smokes, support her to quit too. Making sure that pregnant women aren’t exposed to cigarette smoke (either through smoking themselves, or other people’s secondhand smoke) is the single most important thing that can reduce the risk of stillbirth.
When your partner falls asleep at night, or just takes a short nap, encourage her to go to sleep on her side rather than on her back. When she sleeps on her back, the blood flow and oxygen to the womb are restricted. Compared to sleeping on her back, side-sleeping halves the risk of stillbirth.
Sleep on side
If she wakes up on her back after a sleep, that’s fine, but encourage her to go to sleep again on her side. Your partner might need your help with finding the right pillows, doonas and lighting so she can feel as comfortable as possible.
Your partner will start to feel the baby move between weeks 16 and 24 of pregnancy. You might feel the movements too if you place your hands on her belly. Babies have a regular pattern of movements and you should encourage your partner to get know that pattern. Any changes in the baby’s movement pattern may be a sign it’s unwell.
Monitor baby’s movements
Take time to listen if your partner is concerned about baby’s movements. If she notices a change in movements, she should contact her maternity care professional immediately. As her partner, you should be ready to take her to the maternity unit, and reassure her that she will not be wasting anyone’s time – if there’s a chance the baby may be in danger, you need to seek help quickly.
SMS4dads provides new fathers with information and connections to online services through their mobile phones. The text messages with tips, information and links to other services help fathers understand.