Childbirth: What dad needs to know
Supporting your partner during labor
You will most certainly wonder about the role that you can play during childbirth. Remember that just being there is a huge support. Don't try and do more than you are able: you are not your partner's midwife or therapist. But, if she wants, and if you feel able, there are a number of roles that you can play:
- You can help her get into the right position during the contractions. Strongly pressing your hands against the small of her back or applying towels soaked in very hot water to the same area can also often help women to bear the pain.
- You can also familiarize yourself with the rhythm of the contractions (using the monitor if it is connected) and warn her when another one is about to come. Or, at the peak of a contraction, you can tell her that the pain is about to diminish.
- You can also help your partner get her energy back between contractions with a little tenderness, or by stroking or massaging her. This will help eliminate any residual tension.
- Also make sure that you create an atmosphere of trust, and avoid passing on any anxiety you may have to her: she will find it easier to listen to herself if she feels surrounded by your serene warmth.
- If your partner has decided to have an epidural and is not in pain, you will still have an important role to play: sometimes, when the pain dies down, women may start to feel anxious during birth. Your partner will then need you to listen to and support her.
- If she doesn't ask you for anything during labor, leave her alone and don't disturb her with too many suggestions, even if you mean well: women need to enter into their own world during labor and should not be distracted.
- When the baby comes out, support your partner as she pushes and encourage her. And when your baby is born, you can reach out your arms and catch him so you can place him on his mom. If you want, you can even cut the umbilical chord. Remember to ask the midwives during labor. And don't hold back your emotions: they help form the first bonds between you and your child.
- After the birth, go with your partner for your baby's first pediatric examinations. And if possible, carry him yourself: After his moms arms, your arms are the most secure for him – even if you feel clumsy.