When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, many dads are at a loss on what their role should be. Many end up going about their usual lives waiting for baby’s arrival when they can finally, actively take part in their child’s life.
But men can play an important role during pregnancy and childbirth. The assistance they provide to the expectant mother particularly in the third trimester when movement becomes harder, is invaluable.
Throughout the pregnancy, dads can use the time to learn more about the baby’s development and the changes the mother is going through each month. Reading about the labour process and how a partner can help will give the dad more confidence when the time comes to deliver the baby.
As the baby’s arrival nears and the mother prepares her hospital bag, couples need to agree on the type of birth they want to have and whether the father’s presence in the delivery room is required.
In the past, hospitals were very strict about the presence of ‘outsiders’ in the delivery room or theatre. These rules have been relaxed somewhat and now some hospitals permit fathers to accompany their wives.
Even when hospitals have this provision, some mothers would rather go it alone and have their partners wait outside. However, should your wife agree to have you in the delivery room, there are ways in which you can help.
According to Babycentre, any preparations beforehand though critical might be thrown out the window once labour begins. The process of labour from onset to the actual arrival of your baby can vary from woman to woman and with each pregnancy.
When contractions begin, a word of encouragement as well as a back rub can go a long way in helping your wife get through the pain. In between contractions, your presence will take your wife’s mind off the impending pain that awaits her with the next contraction.
You will need to be strong and courageous enough to try and ease your wife’s discomfort. However, your efforts though welcome, can be rejected in the throes of labour. Don’t take this rejection personally. Keep trying different things and better still, ask her how you can help
Once your baby is born, as your wife is recovering from the delivery, a father can keep a keen eye on the procedures the medical staff are performing on the mother and baby. If you are permitted to, hold your new-born. This is especially important if the mother isn’t in a position to since your baby’s first cuddles will be from a parent and not a total stranger.
Ensure the hospital tags are properly labelled and the baby’s paperwork filled in correctly. If the baby is being taken to the nursery, accompany him and spend some time there.
One dad wrote of his experience when he accompanied his wife to the delivery room, “It made me so aware of how strong a woman is, to push a baby out. And of how strong a baby is, to survive being squeezed through the birth canal… amazing.”