What is the partner’s role during birth? Part I

What can dad do during birth?

This is the question I am probably asked the most, normally followed with a comment such as “apart from hold mum’s hand” or worse “keep out of the way!” These comments couldn’t be further from the truth… dads can do so much during labour and really make a difference. Unfortunately no, we cannot guarantee everything will go to plan, we cannot wave a magic wand and no, we definitely can’t swap places!

So again, what can dad do during birth?

Dads role in labour is really only about two things… So dads listen up, understand your role, prepare for your role and really support you partner!

Be Her Protector

Yep, you get to be her knight in shining armour! But what are you protecting?

Everything with regard to being her protector stems from one key factor, adrenalin. In my piece “men at birth” I explain about fear. Birth professionals the world over will agree, adrenalin is an enemy in labour… adrenalin can stall labour, make labour more painful and longer.

Your role as a protector is about protecting your partner’s environment and recognising anything that may cause fear, and get that adrenalin pumping around her body.

This image is of a typical delivery room,

What in this room could cause apprehension or fear in your partner?

Simple, just about everything! Even the clock on the wall can cause both of you to watch time pass and worry how long it is taking. Then how about the blood pressure band hanging behind the bed. What about the alarm call button or the baby station? Maybe the IV tree sitting just at head of bed? All of these things can evoke anxiety in either of you, which can start the process of adrenalin production.

DON’T PANIC!!!

Simply by recognising these things can cause anxiety is first step. Now you are aware you can talk about them, understand them and accept that they are there not for you but simply because they are always there. If you spot something in your partners eye line you feel may cause a problem, move it! Think about how you can take the emphasis of the medicalised delivery room, with dimmed lights, music playing, etc.

So these are tangibles that you can spot and deal with, but also think about the walk in to the hospital, checking in, being examined. Just actually walking in to the maternity suite can be scary, as it all becomes very real for both of you. Is it any surprise that the majority of women when arriving at hospital, will state that “typical, my contractions have slowed down”? That’s caused by that surge of adrenalin… So be aware, once you get there make your partner as comfortable as possible and the environment as relaxing as possible as quickly as possible. Reassure her and follow my labour dos and don’ts.

OK, now what else was missing from the picture? Simple, people. So who will be in the room? Well, probably you, also the midwife. That will be the minimum, but depending on your circumstances there may be more.

Do you need to protect you partner from the midwife? Absolutely! But no, before the outcry, not because the midwife is bad or dangerous! Your partner just needs to feel comfortable with her midwife. To keep adrenalin down, your partner needs to feel surrounded by people she can trust and feels relaxed with.

Your role as protector does not stop there though… you also need to protect your partner against YOURSELF! During labour, your partners senses will be heightened, Mother Nature gave this as a gift to labouring women so that they can sense dangers around themselves, so they can protect themselves. During labour, your partner will sense any worries or tension coming from yourself, in a nutshell, she will smell your fear. If she senses you are afraid or worried, it will trigger her fear and thus her adrenalin. This is why YOU preparing for YOUR role during labour is so important. By being better prepared and informed, you will be calmer and more confident during labour and birth.

So focus on her, keep reassuring, use that extended vocabulary you now have prepared. Overall, trust in both of your abilities and instincts. Simply by reading this you will be better prepared. Keep preparing, and allow yourselves to enjoy the experience, as it is a truly wonderful time when you meet your child for the first time.

However, being your partners protector is only half of your role… my next blog will cover your other essential role – that of advocate.

 

7 thoughts on “What is the partner’s role during birth? Part I

  1. Absolutely delighted to come across you on twitter. I offer pregnancy massage and a couples session to run through birthing positions etc, but this is really great. I think dads should have the opportunity to talk openly among themselves and discuss their concerns, excitement and fears. Excellent.

  2. Pingback: Partners Role Part II (The Advocate) | DaddyNatal

  3. Hi I located your website by mistake when i was searching Bing for this matter, I have to say your website is truly very helpful I also love the theme, its great!

  4. Pingback: Birth Plans what are they and should we have one? | DaddyNatal

  5. Why oh why were you not my partner for the birth of my 3rd child. My partner came with me for the delivery and it was the worst thing ever. A plank of wood would have been better. I was stressed out with him there, he did absolutely NO preperation and was no help at all, in fact I think my worrying about him led to me needing a C-section.

    I delivered my first 2 children without anybody (other than medical staff) with me and they were much, much more pleasant experiences. If I have another child I’ll be delivering them the same way I did the first 2 – in a calm, “we know what we’re doing” environment.

    • Im sorry to hear about your experience, it is possible it was contributing factor, but no one can be sure. Send him to me next time and I will get him prepared should you change your mind and decide to have him there.

      That said I do believe it is important that as a couple you make the decision who is to be there. Just because it has become the norm doesn’t mean it should always be the case

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