Let’s face it - the day of the birth is all about mama and baby! But the calming support of a prepared, devoted dad is just as important and has been proven to reduce stress and even pain for moms in labour. Being a confident, Zen-like partner through what can possibly be days of waiting, long and sometimes complicated procedures and gruelling hours of labour isn’t easy. Knowing when to step in or step back requires communication and the willingness to do what it takes to make the whole experience is a great one for all.
Photo by John Looy on Unsplash
Whether you love checklists or not, having a birth plan in place is easily one of the best things you can do with your partner. Once you’ve decided on what you want in it, share it via email or printed copies with everyone you deem necessary. It can include discussing necessary vaccinations for mom with your doctor or checking with friends, family and even your emergency services on helpful tips you may have missed. The whole point of a birth plan is to allow everyone to get on the same page and for everything to proceed smoothly on the actual day.
1. Record The Experience - Let’s face it, mom is going to be pretty busy during this exciting time. But getting pictures and video messages from friends and family will not only keep her spirits up but will also give you plenty of material to put into a short video for keepsakes later.
2. Support And Encourage - Once your partner goes into labour, you are responsible for making her life as easy as possible. This could mean anything from a simple massage with essential oils, holding her hand and pacing with her, timing contractions and even talking to her and reassuring her through the process. Remember you are a team, so be flexible and work together.
3. Run Interference - Contrary to what that sounds like it means supporting your partner’s wishes. Whether during the birth process or during recovery, dad’s job is to make sure everyone respects your wishes as fully functioning parents to be. Only you and your partner know exactly what you decided on, but sometimes there can be surprises. Be prepared to trust yourself and make some hard choices, if necessary.
Photo by César Abner Martínez Aguilar on Unsplash
4. Get your info straight - Besides being cocooned for the first 48-72 hours by the helpful hands of nurses and doctors, hospitals can mean lots of paperwork. Take over not only form filling duty but also, pay close attention to what you put on your child’s birth certificate. Mistakes are not only annoying to get rectified but will also cause you a lot of anguish further down the line if you forget. If you’re feeling sleep-deprived and tired yourself, have a friend proofread any documents before you submit them.
5. Support Mom With Her Duties - Unlike what television has programmed us to think, breastfeeding for the first time can be tricky. Keep excited friends and family away for a while and give mama and baby time to get over the exhaustion and bond. In fact, if mom is feeling too exhausted, you can also pitch in with keeping her hydrated, helping with diaper changes, swaddling and giving mom a break from all of it, judgement free, if she needs one. Remember your top priority is a healthy mama and baby!
6. Prepare for baby’s future - Besides having the appropriate car seat picked out and installed, your baby will go through several vaccinations and screenings within hours of being born. If you’ve done your research, you will know this is normal. If you aren’t sure, ask as many questions as necessary to understand what is happening and why until you are satisfied, that it’s in your baby’s best interest. Also, talk to your pediatrician about the vaccination schedule after the baby leaves for home.
While these tips can be helpful, bear in mind that every person is different. Don’t assume that everyone will fit your experience exactly. Learn to talk to your partner, figure out what will work best for the both of you and you will easily win ‘Father of the next few months’ if not for years to come.