Becoming a Dad is an unimaginable journey where emotions, patience, and confidence will be challenged. To help our dads get through this intimate time intact, we offer these suggestions as a guide to help you to feel useful in the delivery room.
• Have your homework done – be aware, attend education classes, read recommended book/s, discuss your fears, thoughts and birthing hopes with your partner (before the contractions begin)
• Always be prepared for the midnight trip to hospital- have the route planned and where to park
• Have a check list prepared for what to pack in the car
• Have plenty of coins for parking
• Have petrol in car
• Have a list of phone numbers
• Have a friend organised to feed the dog.
• Have your bag packed:
Labour is an emotional roller coaster. It is the primary role of the support person to do just that – support! While Mum is concentrating on her contractions, your role is to simply be there. You know your partner better than anyone else. She will be too busy to concentrate on your feelings but will sense your anxiety. Stay calm. Look her in the eye and smile. Look calm!
Be patient as labour can take many hours. Play music – her choice, even if you hate Michael Buble. Give her a foot massage. Stay focused. Put your phone on silent. Don’t turn on the TV to watch the footy.
Be prepared for changes to your birth plan. Be flexible to changes along the way. Be prepared to ask questions so that you can explain to your partner, who may not be able to concentrate on what is going on. Help her make sensible decisions. Be her advocate.
Don’t make the decisions on whether pain relief is needed or not needed. Your partner may make noises that distress you, but that does not mean that she requires pain relief. She will let you know.
Be an active participant – reassure her, try rubbing her back, walking with her, letting her lean on you, breathing with her, getting in the shower with her (with your swimmers on!), and remind and help her to change her position if in bed.
Encourage her to sip fluids and remind her to urinate. Her focus will not be on these basic requirements.
Do not become annoyed if her requests are conflicting “I’m cold….I’m hot take the blanket off ….I’m cold”. Be patient, be thoughtful and support her. She is working hard. Thank God that you cannot change places.
As labour progresses, she may not appear to be “aware” but her senses are heightened. She will hear and remember what you say! Remember to use the breath mints for close chats.
Keep yourself hydrated and energized. If you do feel faint, sit down. You do not want to faint for the first time in your life, during the most amazing time in your life! You do not want the first message to the waiting family to be “mum and baby fine – dad in Intensive Care!”.
Humor can fall flat in the labour room. Choose wisely. The only person you should be aiming to impress is your partner. No one will laugh when you identify the 30-inch umbilical cord as a penis, on your brand new baby daughter.
Don’t be surprised when you feel emotions you never knew you had when you finally see the love of your life holding this strange, funny looking being who will hold your heart forever.
By Alexis Upton
Midwife at Dr Morris | Sydney Mother & Baby