The changing role of dads:
Years ago, a father’s role in childbirth was very negligible. All he did was to quickly and safely get his wife in labour, to the hospital under the care of an elderly family woman and get back home or to the office. Or he would simply sit in the waiting area of the hospital for several hours, totally unaware of what his wife was going through!
This was probably due to the fact that men were not able to see their wives in a lot of pain and discomfort. They were not prepared to handle their wives in such a situation or even comfort them, feeling awkward and helpless themselves.
Today, of course fathers are more evolved and involved. And many to-be-dads want to play an active role in the birthing process. Which is very good since fathers actually have a very important role to play in childbirth.
A father’s role begins well before childbirth:
When his wife is pregnant, the husband should be very affectionate and compassionate to her, helping her to tackle pregnancy changes; physical, mental as well as emotional.
He should accompany her for her visits to the doctor and ultrasound appointments. He should also try to keep track of her diet because she will be the sole nourisher of the baby.
Knowledge is Power:
Husbands need to understand that ‘labour’ is not an illness or medical condition, which needs to be dealt with medically, or only by doctors, nurses or other care providers.
Labour is a natural, physiological process of the mother’s body, at the end of which, she gives birth to her baby. So, if the father is aware and informed about what all it involves, he would probably be the best person for the mother to have around while she is in labour. But how can one achieve that?
Prenatal Classes are a big help:
- Attending prenatal classes with his wife can help a to-be-father learn about pregnancy, childbirth and his role post-delivery. Lamaze breathing techniques are a wonderful tool, helping the woman in labour to cope with the demands of childbirth. A husband can encourage his wife to practice this breathing and in case of any confusion, he can even remind her and boost her morale provided he has learnt this technique in the class.
- He can comfort her by massaging her back and neck, keeping her hydrated, helping her to get into various positions, walking with her. To-be-dads who are well-informed and truly involved can actually make their wives feel that both of them are together giving birth to the baby.
- The prenatal class will provide vital information about the right time of going to the hospital, the optimum position whilst going to the hospital, emergency situations, check-lists, etc.
- Being in the midst of the other fathers in a prenatal class helps relieve fatherly anxieties and builds up camaraderie, making the entire journey enriching, building confidence every day.
A dad’s role after birth:
After birth, fathers should be aware of postpartum depressions that many new moms experience; working trips should be planned accordingly. As much as possible initially, Dads can also assist and be with the mothers whilst breastfeeding.
Welcome to fatherhood:
Thus, in labour, a father gets to witness, the most amazing marvel of nature, the birth of his own child.
Since you have made the baby together, make a promise to welcome the baby together. It has also been proven that mothers who are constantly supported by their husbands have a better outcome of childbirth.
–All the best!!!
Dr. Rita Shah
Dr. Rita Shah is a Lactation Expert and a Qualified Lamaze Consultant, trained from the United States. She is also the Director of ‘Dr. Rita Shah – Nine Months: Lamaze’, a fitness program for expectant mothers.