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In the Labour Room: Dear Daddy’s To Be…

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Dads in the labour room

With Father’s Day just around the corner (don’t forget to check out our gift guide), we’re dedicating some of this week’s posts to the dads…

So much about pregnancy and birth support in the community is geared towards the woman, the reasons why being obvious. But the birth of a baby, is the start of an entirely new family unit, very much including dear daddy-o!

Husbands and fathers-to-be, play a huge role in supporting their wives through pregnancy, labour and beyond but as a labour Room Midwife I quite often see that they feel like the “ third wheel”. This does not at all have to be the case. This very intimate and trusting relationship of a couple manifests many supportive arenas for these fathers to feel helpful instead of helpless.

Celebrating the new life coming from a woman is truly miraculous, but it is seeing the joy of a father holding his new born in his arms and placing a kiss on his wife’s forehead, that will always bring a happy tear to my eye.

So this one is for all the fathers- to-be, the inside knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of birthing support.

dads in the labour room

Midwives top 10 tips

  1. Have the labour conversation well before the due date, talk to your wife about her goals, preferences and fears. This will help you understand her better and can prompt what questions you may need to ask your Midwife or Doctor at the next visit.
  1. Try to attend at least some form of prenatal class together. Whether private or group classes or even the labour talk with your doctor is a great way of increasing your knowledge, knowing your options and hearing about techniques you can use to help your wife. Knowledge really does take some of the fear out and trust me, learning pressure -point massage on the day of her labour will not relieve any tension – yours included!
  1. Know yourself and be honest. If you are squeamish and the sight of blood makes you faint, yet your wife has plans for you to cut the cord… it is time to speak now my friend or forever hold your peace!
  1. Though it is your baby together, labour is really about her, her body and her preferences for birth. She may want a drug free birth, or be totally set on an epidural leading up to the birth and then suddenly change her mind during labour. This is where you nod and agree…her body, her choice.
  1. Pick up on the non verbals. If she is sweating and hot, get her a cold face towel, if she is looking thirsty, help her with a cold drink with a straw. The less she has to actively communicate, the more energy she saves and the more connected she will be to your support.
  1. She may get a little…well cranky. Offers of a massage or a loving stroke of the cheek may be met with a canine like growl. She doesn’t mean it, she really doesn’t. It’s just that in high levels of pain, emotion and concentration leave little room for patience, and the most innocent offer of help may be like a red rag. Just sit back and hide behind the Midwife for a few minutes.
  1. At times she may want to squeeze your hand, pull on your t-shirt, push on your arms…this is a physical release for her, a distraction, an urge. Protect your man bits and get in there!
  1. She may need you to be the ‘middle man’. That is, you may need to be her voice at times. Midwife suggesting she walk around the room and wife giving you the death stare through gritted teeth? Yup, that’s your cue to speak up and politely suggest that you may try that a bit later.
  1. Labour is tough, exhausting and emotional not just for your wife but for you too. Remember to eat a little, drink water and coffee and, sit down and rest when you can. A stronger you, is a better support for her.
  1. It’s not all bad and terrifying. You are about to meet your baby!! Through the surges of fear and nervousness, be excited and share the wonder and joy! No matter how your baby is born, you are about to witness one of the most amazing things you will ever see. Life as you know it has just changed forever… Dad.

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A version of this feature was first published in Good Magazine

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