Most dads find the birth of their baby to be one of life’s greatest moments. And it’s even better if you know that you’ve been there to help. So how can you support your partner through what’s likely to be the experience of a lifetime? Here’s an easy to follow guide for dads-to-be on how you might be able to help your partner.
1- Planning to Participate in the Birth
By studying and learning about childbirth before the big day, you and your partner can make the right decision about the dad’s participation level during childbirth. Sometimes dad wants to be really involved, sometimes dad is nervous. Have you discussed how you’re feeling with your partner?
2- Dads and Childbirth Class
Dads and childbirth class is something many people worry about. Will dad go? Will he be okay during class? Will it be a waste of his time?
The truth is that many dads really enjoy childbirth class. It is a time for them to go and prepare to help mom as she’s giving birth.
3- How Dads Can Help While Laboring at Home
There are many ways that dad can help while laboring at home. Remember, these early hours of labor are fairly easily managed with some basic relaxation and distraction. Dad need not panic and worry about an emergency birth at home. Here are somethings dad can do:
- time a few contractions every hour
- go for a walk
- watch a movie
- make a meal
- nap with mom
- remind mom to relax
- give mom a back rub
Try to keep things light and easy. Sleep if it’s possible, even if it’s just a nap.
4- Getting to the Hospital
Deciding when to go to the hospital may actually take awhile. Mom might ask for your opinion. Always try to reflect the question back to her. How does she feel? What did your midwife or doctor advise her? Is she still comfortable at home? Is she worried?
Call your doctor or midwife to see what they advise. You may want to call your doula before deciding whether to go to the hospital. She can help you remember all the things that your practitioner advised and help advise you on how to stay comfortable. You may even be ready for your doula to come help you before you leave for the hospital. Once you decide to go to the hospital, remember not to rush. Drive safely. This will help mom stay comfortable on the ride over and not worry her about the driving.
5- Pain Relief Help from Dad
Dads often worry how they can help relieve pain for moms in labor. There are many things that dads can do that are very helpful. The first thing is to know what’s on mom’s birth plan. Is she planning a natural childbirth? What types of comfort measures is she wanting to use and in what ways can you help her? If she is opting for IV medications or an epidural, do you know when these medications are available and how to get them? What will your role be when these are used?
Here are somethings that you can do to help ease the pain of labor:
6- Dads and Pushing
Pushing is at the very end of labor. When mom has an urge to push the nurses, your doula, and/or her practitioner will help you in choosing positions for pushing. You may go through several positions during the course of pushing which can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
As the baby is actually crowning, you may wish to encourage mom to watch in a mirror, or even to reach down and touch the baby’s head. This usually also provides her with an incentive and a smile. Since mom is working very hard, try to offer her sips of water between pushes. Wipe her brow with cool cloths and encourage her. Let her know how proud you are of her.
7- Dads and C-Sections
In most cases, dad can stay with mom for a c-section birth. The one big exception is for emergencies births or when general anesthesia is used.
Mom will usually be taken to the operating room (OR), while dad waits in the pre-operative area or in the LDR room. A nurse will give him scrubs to change into to be with mom during the surgery. Once everyone is ready, the nurse will take dad to the OR and he will sit next to mom.
Dad will not be able to see the surgery because of a large screen blocking the view. Mom or dad can ask for a mirror to watch the baby being pulled out. Once the baby is out, the doctor will usually show the baby over the screen quickly and then pass the baby to the nurse to clean off and ensure that the baby is well.
Once it is determined that the baby is stable, dad can hold the baby. Dad should show the baby to mom, placing the baby cheek to cheek. To be able to breastfeed in the OR takes a few sets of hands, but it can be beneficial for the baby to be skin to skin. If mom can’t be skin to skin with baby, dad can also try to hold the baby skin to skin.
8- Dads and Early Postpartum
Once the baby is born, dad can ensure that the mom is taken care of so she can focus on the baby and breastfeeding. Dad can help by moderating the flow of visitors to the postpartum room or even the LDR in the early hours postpartum.
If the baby has to go to the hospital nursery, either for routine care or for a problem, dad should go with the baby. This ensures that someone is with the baby at all times. It also allows dad to report back to mom on how the baby is doing.
Be sure to take pictures of these early hours and days. Mom is so busy with baby and trying to get used to breastfeeding that this might not be on her mind.
Dad can also use the birth plan to help figure out what is important to mom in these early days when it comes to the baby.