In this post, Dean Beaumont, founder of the multi-award winning antenatal classes for men DaddyNatal and author of bestselling ‘The Expectant Dad’s Handbook’ talks about the role Dads can play at the birth.
Latest reports show that 95% of dads are now present at the birth of their child, but I wonder how many of us really understand how much we can affect the birth itself, and why our role in the room is much more than that of an ‘observer’ or texting to tell everyone the news when it is all over.
Dads can make a huge difference to how the birth unfolds, and it is up to us to do what we can to make sure our impact at the birth is positive.
Should we be at the birth of our child?
Logically there can be no better support for a woman giving birth than having the person she loves and created the baby with to support her. That said, this only works as long as her birth partner is prepared and a calm and reassuring presence.
Why does that matter?
Well, during birth the hormone Oxytocin is produced by mum which is what gets labour going and keeps it going – but this is only produced when mum feels safe and calm. If mum feels frightened, under pressure or anxious, she instead produces adrenalin which inhibits the Oxytocin production, slowing or even stopping labour. Therefore, the birth partner is essential for helping mum feeling secure enough for her body to produce the necessary hormones for birth to happen, and to do that, they must be a calm and reassuring presence themselves!
The birth partner’s role doesn’t end there though, another key element is their position to act as an advocate, ensuring mum’s preferences and feelings are listened to. Sometimes it is difficult in labour for mum to be able to put forward her preferences as she may feel vulnerable or just overwhelmed. It can really help knowing that she has someone by her side who will ensure her wishes are heard.
The other key reason why it is really beneficial for dad to be at the birth, is that it really supports bonding. Bonding with the baby during the pregnancy can be quite difficult, with men often not really seeing themselves as a ‘dad’ until after the birth. The sheer emotions of the birth often support bonding, and of course all the opportunities for dad to get close to his baby in the first minutes and hours, when baby is getting to know their
Are there any risks to Dad being at the birth?
Unfortunately yes, the support that can be so important and desired can also be detrimental. An anxious father who is fretting will cause mum to worry. The transference of dads fears on to mum can lead to the start of adrenalin production, potentially starting the chain of events that potentially will lead to a stalled labour.
There is also the risk from the dad’s “fix it” instinct. If dad does not understand the birth process or what is ‘normal’, he is in danger of overriding his partner’s wishes. If he believes his partner is in pain, he will want to stop her being in pain; at this point he may suggest and even promote interventions such as pain relief. He needs to control his natural instinct. Only through controlling the ‘fix it’ reflex, will he be able to advocate for his partner and make sure her wishes are respected.
What can we do?
So dads listen up, if you and mum agree you are going to be at the birth, you owe it to your family to be as prepared as possible and be the best birth partner you can be. You have the potential to truly affect the whole experience and outcome, with proper preparation you can make your presence there a positive one.
There is lots you can do during the pregnancy to help prepare for your role at the birth.
First up, as long as your partner is happy, try and attend as many antenatal appointments as you can. Be involved during the pregnancy, so that you can develop your confidence so that the first time you are having discussions with care professionals isn’t in the middle of the birth!
Make sure you have your birth plan written out, and discuss and research it together with your partner.
This is a brilliant way to research your options and for you to learn what is important to your partner.
Attend antenatal classes and read books, make sure these are of a good quality and cover what it is you as a couple want to learn about birth. Research and find the class which best suits your needs, rather than just one which your friend recommended – as you might be looking for different things!
Becoming a parent is the most important job you will ever have, it will impact on every aspect of your life – learn as much as you can, and then enjoy the journey!
For more information visit: www.daddynatal.co.uk