In honor of Father’s Day, it seems appropriate to give a shout-out to dads’ roles in the birth process. We have all seen movies in which a laboring woman berates her partner while he helplessly stands by, but the truth about dads is that they can be the key to a beautiful birth. Dads can support women in ways no professional can. Dads know where to touch. Dads are strong. Dads take action.
As a Doula, I have worked with dads who were initially unsure about their roles in birth. Some wanted to be as removed from the experience as possible, while others worried that having a doula present would make their efforts unnecessary. I am happy to say, no doula should ever replace a supportive partner; and when the efforts of Dad and Doula are combined, birth can be a supported and empowering experience for the whole family.
Doulas, or other support people, can help dads by teaching them where and how to massage and how to help with position changes; reassuring them that things are progressing normally and supporting them when the unexpected happens. Doulas and Dads can trade off the, sometimes exhausting, physical comfort measures that a laboring mom needs, giving Dad the chance to take a break.
Dads can feel helpless during the intensity of birth, but they can do so much just by being present, paying attention, and following Mom’s lead. Dads may not be able to take away the pain of childbirth, but they can provide the rock solid emotional support that their partner needs to get through labor.
Cheat Sheet for Dads & Partners
Build a great “birth team.” Work with your partner to find a doctor or midwife that you both feel comfortable with. Hire a doula or find an experienced support person to provide non-judgmental support and information for your birth choices.
Have your doula or childbirth educator teach you comfort measures for labor and birth.
Ask questions. If you are unsure or concerned about what is happening, ask your doctor, nurse, or doula to explain what is happening and why.
Take breaks. A laboring woman has the benefit of adrenaline and a variety of birthing hormones to keep her energy up, but dads need stamina too. Taking time to rest, eat, and hydrate is crucial.
Take nothing personally. Laboring women can change their minds often about what feels good. Keep trying new positions and techniques.
Bring your sense of humor!
Don’t talk during contractions (not to Mom or to others in the room).
Monitor phone messages and visitors. Decide ahead of time who you want present and stick to that.
Remind friends and family members not to post about the birth on social media until you have made your announcement.
Ask for privacy when you need it. If Mom is getting overwhelmed with decisions, visitors, or other interruptions, politely ask the staff to give you a few minutes of uninterrupted privacy.
Birth should be a time when both partners feel supported and can relax and enjoy the process of meeting their new baby. Working together and leaning on the support of those around you, can help your family have a supported and positive experience.
Written By Sara Tingey Gordon, Certified Doula, Owner of Chico Birth Services & The Nest
Photos By Emily Hajec Photography