7 things Dads need to do to prepare for Childbirth
Having a baby is a team sport. You may feel from time to time that it is a solo effort, but research suggests that the more supportive dad is, the better the health outcomes form mum and bub. High levels of paternal involvement can even lead to improved cognitive and social development. So although mum is undoubtedly the star of the team, don’t underestimate your importance as a dad. From pregnancy, through labour, birth and postpartum, your partner and baby will need as much of your emotional, physical and practical support as you can give.
1. Get educated
The most important thing you can do for yourself, your partner and your new baby is to be educated. Don’t leave it to her to work out whether she wants a home or hospital birth, or to understand her options in pain relief. Research it. Figure out the pros and cons. Find out how labour works. Have an opinion. But be prepared to listen. And when I say get educated, I mean not just for birth, but for pregnancy and the postpartum period too.
2. Be prepared
When your partner is in labour is not the time to work out the best way to the hospital, or to discover your phone is flat So channel your inner boy scout and ensure you are prepared in every way. This might include:
– Helping your partner pack her bag in advance and ensuring you have a change of clothes and toothbrush in there too. And don’t forget the phone charger!
– Research the best route to the hospital or birth centre and do a dry run. You don’t want to find out there are roadworks, or a new no left turn sign while your partner is having a contraction
– Put the car seat in the car so that you are ready to bring your bundle of joy home. And while you’re at it, make sure the cot and change table are fully assembled and ready to go!
3. Be supportive
Offer both physical and emotional support, appropriate to the stage of labour – see Get Educated! Some practical things you can do:
– Prior to labour learn massage and acupressure techniques to provide relief. Practice them beforehand and learn which your partner prefers
– Make sure you understand the different stages of labour so you can coach mum appropriately
– Physically support your partner as she walks, showers or changes position
– Cool compresses, ice chips and heat pads can all make a big difference to comfort in labour. Make sure you have them available.
– Provide gentle cheering and encouragement when her spirit or energy is flagging
4. Be patient
Sometimes labour is a sprint, other times it is a marathon. Be prepared for the long haul. Take something to entertain you and your partner – music, an audio book, anything that will while away the time if things are moving slowly. And always remember it is much harder for the labouring mum than for you, so if you are tired or your back is aching – tell someone who is not trying to give birth to a human!
5. Be flexible
You and your partner will have agreed a birth plan, but you know what they say about plans. So be flexible and if the woman who said she wanted a natural birth suddenly demands an epidural – go with it. Always remember who it is that is labouring. Something else to remember here is that the labouring mum is under a lot of stress – don’t hold anything she may say against her.
6. Be an Advocate
There may be times during labour when your partner is not able to advocate for herself. This is where you need to step in and make sure her wishes are heard and, as much as possible, honoured. This applies to both the medical staff and, often, family members. If your partner doesn’t want family in the room, it is your job to keep them out. No matter how determined your mother is!
7. Be Grateful
Your partner has given you the greatest gift anyone can receive, so make sure you take the time to let her know how much you appreciate and admire her strength and courage. In both words and deeds. This is a time when a woman often doubts herself and feels vulnerable. Telling her how you feel is important, but showing her, by being extra thoughtful in the days and months after baby is born, can make the adjustment from woman to mum and couple to family that much more joyous or you all.
Help is at Hand
This might all seem like a lot. Luckily, you are not on your own. A good doula can provide you with all the tools, advice and support you need to be there for your partner through late pregnancy, labour, birth and the first months of parenthood, and to help you through the challenges of becoming a dad too.
If you are expecting or planning a baby and would like to find out about the ways having a doula as part of your team can help you, please give me a call on 0422 258 771 or contact me: