Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, changes have been made to our maternity visiting policy. Please view the maternity visiting hours page for more information.
We understand that as a partner you will feel excited and, at times, you may also feel left out and overwhelmed. In collaboration with the partners of some of our patients, we've developed a guide of useful resources and answers to some common questions – we are here for you too.
How do I look after my own emotional/mental wellbeing?
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is very important, if you have concerns and live in the boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Croydon you can contact Crisis on 0800 731 2864, or visit your local IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies).
Below are some general tips to help with your emotional wellbeing.
- Do things that we know help with stress – try to stay physically active, cut down on alcohol, eat a balanced diet and talk to someone about your concerns.
- When you talk to someone, tell them what’s going on inside you, not just what you are doing.
- Spend time with your baby, even before they are born. Play them your favourite music, read to them, and let them hear your voice.
- Start lining up help from friends and family with all the things that you might not be able to manage by yourself.
- Connect in any way you can with friends and family for example: phone, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom.
- If things get difficult, if you cannot sleep or relax, if you are very sad and cannot enjoy anything, you are not alone. And none of this is your fault. Tommy's Charity offers free support and information and you can contact their in-house midwives by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Further useful information is available through Dads Matter UK.
- If you live with your baby's mum, make sure you take it in turns to care for the baby at night, so you both get some sleep and all the responsibility isn't on one of you.
- When the baby's asleep, parents/partners are often rushing around cleaning or doing laundry. Try to use some of this time to just be together – from watching TV to having a chat (or a moan).
Please find below an A-Z guide of useful resources and answers to some common questions. If you have any other questions, please speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor. We are here for you.
A: Action on postpartum psychosis
B: Breast and bottle feeding
The NHS has some useful information about what to expect when breast or bottle feeding your baby.
C: Cot death
The Lullaby Trust offers safer sleep advice with simple steps on how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is commonly known as cot death. It can give you the peace of mind to enjoy this special time.
D: Domestic abuse
Pregnancy and parenthood are key life events that can contribute to, or escalate, existing problems in relationships. Controlling, coercive and emotional abuse is not always recognised as domestic abuse and the negative impact it can have on a child's life.
Visit the getting help for domestic violence NHS webpage for information, advice and ways to get support. Support is also available for men and women through Refuge and the Respect Phoneline.
E: Emotional support
Mental health problems during pregnancy or following childbirth are common. Some women have a previous mental health condition that can be worsened by pregnancy or having a baby. For others, they may experience a mental health problem for the very first time. If you are concerned about your partner's mental wellbeing speak to them and your midwife. The Maternal Mental Health Alliance has some useful advice and what to look out for. The Fatherhood Institute also offers support and advice on a wide range of issues.
The NHS website has lots of information about your rights to leave and financial support.
Guy’s and St Thomas' maternity helpline is there for you at any time on 020 7188 8760.
I: Intensive care or Special care admissions
Finding out that your baby is going to spend time in a neonatal unit can be a frightening and worrying time. The neonatal unit at Evelina London Children's Hospital, which is co-located with St Thomas' Hospital, is one of the country's leading units specialising in the care of newborn babies.
Bliss charity provides further useful information about what to expect, finding your feet, and how to get more support.
Home-Start provides a space for parents to gather, meet and talk, and create their own local support network. They also have resources for getting partner support, group counselling, and relationship support.
K: Kicks - baby's movement during pregnancy
How many times should my baby move in pregnancy? What should I do if my partner and I are worried? Tommy's has lots of useful information about a baby's movements in pregnancy.
Our A-Z list is meant for all families. However, we acknowledge there may be a lack of online specific support for our LGBTQ community and want you to know you are important to us. The NHS has developed specific resources for LGBT paths to parenthood. For those currently pregnant, Stonewall has information about parenting rights.
M: Mental health support
O: Online support for dads
From Dads to Dads provides online support, ranging from what to expect, first two years of life, supporting your partner’s emotional wellbeing, and stories by other fathers.
P: Partner support in labour and birth
Talk to your partner about what helps her when she is in pain. Practice giving massages for early labour.
R: Registering the birth
You can find out how to register your baby according to your postcode on the GOV.UK website.
S: Sex and intimacy
It's normal for a woman's sex drive to change in pregnancy. There's usually no medical reason to avoid sex during pregnancy, but bear in mind:
- your partner's breasts may be very tender in the early weeks
- do not have intercourse if there's any bleeding or pain
- make sure your partner is comfortable – you may need to try out a few different positions as the pregnancy progresses.
Find out more about sex in pregnancy on the NHS website. If you're not having sex, try to find other ways of being close, but do talk about it. Some partners find it difficult to be intimate during pregnancy. If you feel uncomfortable about your partner's changing shape, talk about it but be sensitive to how your partner might feel.
T: Time to talk for partners
If you live in Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Croydon you can self-refer for free talking therapies through your local IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies). This ranges from counselling to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Please look for your local borough or speak to your midwife or GP if you need help with this.
V: Vaccination and screening
When your partner is offered blood tests in early pregnancy, you may be asked to have blood tests as well. This is to check whether your baby is at risk of having an inherited or genetic condition, such as sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia or cystic fibrosis. You'll also be asked about your family history and origin, because certain inherited conditions are more common depending on family history.
Your baby will also be offered vaccinations after birth and your health visitor can discuss this with you.
W: Why are you crying?
Y: Your local area
HOOP is a great free app where you can enter your postcode and find local parent-baby/toddler groups in your area. Get out and meet some other parents.
Sleep and rest is important for you both. The NHS website website has some useful tips that may help you get more sleep or feel more rested.
I have more questions and concerns, what do I do?
If you have a question that has not been answered here you can contact the maternity helpline anytime on 020 7188 8760.