Through my 11 years of experience teaching families how to prepare for their birth experience, I have carefully created a top 10 list for dads (or support partners) to help them successfully navigate the waters of childbirth and be the rock star when all is said and done.
1. Be emotionally connected and supportive. This is No.1 on the list for a reason. This is the most important thing that you can do for her. Being emotionally connected and supportive for her creates a space of calm and relaxation, which is the key to inviting the magical hormone called endorphins, nature’s beautiful and powerful pain killer making birth faster and easier.
2. Encouraging/empowering words. Endorphins, baby! This encouragement will help set the tone of calm. And who doesn’t like hearing nice things.
3. Massage/touch. Remember the hands and feet. Now this one needs to be approached with caution. It is true that some women will actually utter the words, “Don’t touch me!” while in labor, so respect that. But for those that don’t mind, touch is magical and is another way to create the power of hormones.
4. Creating an environment of calm. Chaos breeds chaos, and calm breeds calm. Make her space a sanctuary. If you’re at the hospital, so what? Dim those lights, play some music, bring her pillow and her favorite fuzzy socks. Make it as peaceful as possible and you will notice a difference in how relaxed she feels.
5. Helping with positions (keeping in mind the ‘pelvis puzzle’). The pelvis puzzle refers to the precise navigation necessary for the baby to fit through the many different shapes of the pelvis and match it with the different shapes of their head and body. Changing your positions is vital for effecting the speed and ease of labor. So get researching and get her up and moving.
6. Breathing - guiding and/or reminding. Can your mind think stress and anxiety while you are yoga breathing? No. Your brain will not interpret stress while actively doing deep relaxation breathing. It can’t. That is not the message you are sending it. So practice those breathing techniques - they really do make all the difference. Help her practice, help her remember and do it with her (it’s good for your stress too).
7. Go to the washroom every two hours and hydrate. Full bladder = slow progress. So get her on the toilet (and, if you did your research, you would know this is also a very effective pelvis puzzle solving position to assume). Dehydration also creates slow progress and low energy. Encourage her to keep hydrated.
8. Be an advocate. She needs you on her side. This is the only time she will birth this baby. So make her needs and wishes and questions heard. She is busy birthing this baby, so her voice is now your voice. This also means you need to have the discussion before labor to know what it is she wants and wishes, how to make tough decisions in difficult circumstances and what she wants protected. It’s very important to communicate.
9. Remain calm and positive. ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ rings true here. If you are freaking out, she will too. You are her rock. Create an all-star support team for you and her before labor so if things get stressful, you have a team to fall back on and ask the questions and get your inspiration, second wind and calm back. Go team!
10. Protect the space after baby is born. This is a sacred time. Protect it and enjoy it, take it in and just be.
Sharon is the owner of Calgary Birth Essentials, and has over 15 years experience educating and supporting families having babies in Calgary. Calgary Birth Essentials offers small group and private prenatal classes, birth doula services and lactation consultations. For more information, visit www.calgarybirthessentials.com
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