A message for Dads
Let me introduce myself I am Jessemy, a midwife at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, and have done some research into what can affect the birth experience for fathers.
Nowadays fathers are a lot more involved with pregnancy and childbirth as opposed to historical times. Should you choose to be at the birth, we need to ensure that you have a positive experience as well as your partner. It is likely that if you feel your partner is being well looked after that you will be happy enough. But don’t forget about yourself. You are important in this too, and we need to make sure that your needs and expectations are met.
To a large extent we rely on you guys to let us know what we can do; talk to us, tell us what you need, want, don’t want, ask us questions. There are a few specific things that were highlighted in my research as factors that may affect things for you.
Labour and birth is unpredictable, and babies are delivered in the safest way possible. This can either be a vaginal birth, an instrumental vaginal birth (forceps or suction cap) or caesarean section (elective or unplanned, which is also known as an emergency caesarean section). When things change quickly it can be scary; being prepared for things to change and having awareness that your baby may not be born via a ‘normal’ birth and by one of the other methods instead will help in your preparedness. Go into the labour environment with an open mind. If you do not understand what is happening, ask. There are also antenatal classes which you could get involved in to learn more about these and help with your preparedness.
You will see your partner in pain. This can sometimes be a difficult thing to deal with as it may be something you have not seen before. Don’t be afraid. We are conditioned in life to think that pain is our body letting us know that something is wrong. Labour pain is not telling us that there is something wrong, it is in fact telling us that the body is doing exactly what it is made to do – get your baby here. Discuss with your partner how you plan to work with the pain together, and establish what your role will be when she is finding it difficult to cope….back rubbing? DJ for the labour playlist? Words of encouragement? Try and be present when discussing labour and birth antenatally, and get involved in writing the birth plan.
Your midwife will be present to provide support in the room, to provide information including that around the progress of labour, and to facilitate decision making. This all involves you too, not just your partner; the midwife is your support as a father, to keep you informed and to involve you in the decision making process, too.
This is a special time, one which should make you feel safe, fulfilled and empowered as you become a protector, a role model, a hero, a dad.
Yours most sincerely
Jessemy Evans, Midwife