By Patrick Houser
Most fathers/partners are strangers to the birth environment. Additionally, they typically have had little if any opportunity to prepare for it. In my opinion, this is society’s responsibility and we all need to raise our game in the support of new families during this crucial time of family foundation building and bonding.
Towards that end, I have four ‘topics of awareness’ that dads/partners would do well to have support on in order to make a more useful contribution during the mother’s labour and their child’s birth.
1. PAIN: Men typically know pain as it relates to injury, football, falling off a bike, hitting their thumb with a hammer etc. With this as their point of reference, or default setting, for pain if the one they love is experiencing pain during labour they can, knowingly or unknowingly, revert to their ‘known experience’ and assume that injury or damage is being done to her. They need to be informed, perhaps even convinced, that if there is pain during labour it is safe, intermittent, cyclical and also creative. They also need to know it is not their role to try and do something about it i.e., fix it. In addition, it is possible to transmute ‘pain’ and transform it into pure energy…rather than something that hurts. The word YES is key.
2. TIME: How much time will the birth take? How long is a piece of string? Birth takes as long as it takes. Fathers need to know this and to relax around the time thing and to be present with her and in each moment with her. This knowing and attitude from him will support her to relax more easily and be in the zone with her labour. All in good time.
3. NOISE: She may make loud and/or unusual sounds, perhaps unlike any he has ever heard from her before. This is normal, good even. This comes from deep inside her, from that ‘instinctual mother’ place in her. Welcome it.
4. SAFETY: Is she safe? Is our baby safe? Here is where experienced advise is needed from the professionals in the room. They have attended many births. Trustfully they have learned what it is like and have a deep knowing that birth is safe. It is important to communicate this to the father/partner. Let him know through a look, a touch, a kind and gentle word that all is good and going according to nature’s plan. Trust birth!
Patrick Houser consults with hospitals, birth centers and organizations regarding fathering policies and procedures. He offers study days, workshops and keynote lectures in various formats to support working relationships with fathers during the time of pregnancy, birth & breastfeeding. His Fathers-To-Be Handbook is very supportive for professionals working with families during pregnancy and birth. F2B Handbook also available at 50% discount for selling-on or giving to clients as part of information/support packets. www.FathersToBe.org firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn about Debra’s upcoming From Pain to Power online childbirth experience!