Dads and Birth
Initially it was birthing mums who wanted their partners with them, though now more and more men want to be part of the experience.
09:17 09 June 2009
Birth used to be an occasion exclusively for women, but today over 90 percent of dads are present when their child is born.
This article also appears on www.bbc.co.uk/parenting/having_a_baby
Dads have babies too...
In the 'permissive' 1960s the entry of men into the delivery suite was not smooth.
"...there is a place for you at the birth..."
A dad in Chicago, USA, whose partner wanted him to attend the birth
of their baby rather than wait in the hospital corridor, handcuffed
himself to his wife's delivery trolley so that hospital staff could not
remove him from the delivery room!
But now it's expected that dads will be present at the birth.
Initially it was birthing mums who wanted their partners with them,
though now more and more men want to be part of the experience.
Tips for dad:
- Think about your feelings about the birth well in advance.
How do you feel about being present? Does your partner want you to be
there - with or without another friend (often know as a birth partner).
Do you want to 'experience it' or are you going because it's 'expected
of you'? If you feel unsure about being at the birth, attending
antenatal classes will help prepare you and give you confidence to know
there is a place for you at the birth. Some antenatal classes encourage
fathers to share their worries about the birth with other dads. See our
feature on Antenatal classes for more information.
- You can play a key role in all stages of labour.
Many mums-to-be are calmed and reassured by the presence of their
partner, and there's a great deal you can do on a practical level. For
example, you could learn ways to use massage to ease pain. Before the
birth practice supporting your partner in the different positions she
may want to use during labour. This will help you feel more confident
when it comes to the real thing!
- Think about the special moments which often come at the end of labour.
These can include seeing the baby's head crowning, seeing your partner
hold your new baby for the first time and holding the baby yourself.
Some doctors and midwives will ask you if you want to cut the umbilical
cord. If you feel squeamish about seeing the 'action', the midwife can
make sure you're in a position where you don't see too much. Talk with
your partner about what you both want to put in the birth plan. See our
feature on Making a birth plan.
- Your most important role is as supporter.
Your words of encouragement and hope will help your partner through the
birth, but don't be shocked if she swears or shouts at you! This can be
quite common during the later stages of labour. If you've discussed
what you and your partner would like to happen during labour, you'll be
able to understand what she wants and act as spokesperson if she can't
communicate her wishes herself. The simplest things, such as having
cool drinks ready or massaging her back, can be real morale boosters
Many mums and dads say that the births of their children were among
the most momentous times in their lives. Bear this in mind when
discussing with your partner how involved you want to be.