A confident and supportive father can make an enormous difference to the birth of his child. He will be producing the hormones of love, which will have a positive effect on the mother. She will also produce oxytocin, the hormone that makes labour efficient. In these circumstances, his presence can have a thoroughly beneficial effect, on the birth process, on the baby, and on their relationship.
For some it’s challenging to watch a loved one endure child birth, most dads find the birth of their baby to be one of life’s greatest moments. Of course, it’s even better if you know that you’ve been there to help.
So what are the best ways to support your partner through what’s likely to be the experience of a lifetime? Here are 10 tips from dads who have been there before to help you be the perfect birth partner.
- Be aware of what she wants
Talk to your partner beforehand about what she does and doesn’t want during her labour. You’re the one who may need to take charge and let the midwife know. If she has a birth plan, make sure you bring it with you to hospital.
- Look after yourself!
The mum-to-be is the centre of attention, but you’ll probably be spending the night at the hospital too, so don’t forget to pack some things for yourself. Comfortable shoes are essential.
Consider bringing your swimming shorts if your partner wants you in the birth pool with her. Also remember to bring something to eat and drink – you could be at the hospital for a while. Find out what you should put in your hospital bag.
- Know what to expect
Labour is not the right time to be flipping through a pregnancy and birth manual, so brush-up on your reading beforehand. And go to the Birth Prep Workshop with an open mind. You’ll get solid, basic information about what labour and birth entails. As well as a sense of how other dads-to-be are planning the event.
- Be flexible
Labour strategies that work for some women, may not work for your partner. A birth partner’s job is to discern what works, and be prepared to drop what doesn’t.
Well before your baby’s due date, you and your partner should take time to discuss her expectations and options. Later, you will be able to take the initiative while keeping her wishes in mind.
- Be ready to do some hard work yourself!
Giving birth is often a long, hard job. At some point during the hours of labour, you and your partner will discover something she can focus on during surges. It could be a breathing pattern, a spot on the ceiling, or an even soft baby toy you’ve brought with you.
Your job is to help your partner find this distraction, and then bring her back to it whenever she starts to think she won’t make it. Your partner will be relying on you to keep your concentration levels up.
- Be prepared for surprises
Neither you not your partner knows what labour will be like be prepared for surprises and know what will help your partner.
- Be a one-person support team
Though there will be lots of experienced people around to help you, you will be your partner’s most important support.
Do whatever she needs, from running to the cafeteria to getting her another drink or talking things through with your midwife.
- Know your limits
There’s a lot going on in the birth room. Be aware of what you are willing to do during the process, and what you want to leave to the professionals.
- Be prepared to take charge
Only you and your partner know what you both want, but she may not be in the best condition to make hard decisions. Be ready to step in with some decisive action if the situation calls for it.
- Be prepared to wait
Unlike what you see on TV, most women are in labour for hours before they even go to the hospital. Many couples find it more comfortable to spend the early stages of labour at home. Besides, many maternity units prefer you wait until your surges are regular and close together before booking into the hospital.
Book onto this Couples Birth Prep Workshop to help prepare you both for a calm and confident birth.