Dads and Doulas

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What to expect when you're the DAD

  

So you’re going to have a baby soon. Great! There is a lot of information for mom, but where can you go to answer your questions?  Nobody really tells a soon to be dad what to expect.  I've collected several resources here for you and your concerns.  If I haven't provided what you need, please feel free to ask me any of your questions at a prenatal visit or in private via email. This is your baby, too, and you need to comfortable with impending fatherhood just around the corner!

I’ve never had a baby before!

Twinforks Doula support fathers too.

You’ve never supported a woman in labor before? Possibly never seen a laboring woman? It's very natural if you've never participated in a labor before.  It can be pretty nerve-wracking to know your partner expects you to help her get through it when you haven't got a clue what it will be like or how to help. My best advice is to attend a childbirth preparation class with your partner and make sure you’re available during the prenatal doula visit.  You'll learn not only what to expect during labor, but many techniques to assist her. Most importantly, listen to your partner.  If she tells you to do something, just do it while shes laboring.  If she tells you to stop doing something, stop now and don't do it again.  She'll be very direct in labor.  Just listen to her and she'll likely be pleased.  Here are a few universal tips:

   

Don't ask her questions during a contraction. She can't focus or answer, and she'll be annoyed with you. 

If something helps her during contractions (like rubbing or pressing her back), start doing it as soon as the contraction begins. Starting half-way through the contraction is not helpful.

She needs encouragement.Tell her you believe in her, that she can do it.  

Don't go to sleep unless she specifically says it's okay. If she's awake, she'll expect the same of 

Birth expectations during labor

  

It's important to talk with your partner about what her expectations of the birth are, including what role she wants you to play.  While you're having this discussion, consider what role you want to play. You can be as involved as you want to be.  Most often, women want their partners to be an emotional support to them during the labor.  Many want their partners to attend childbirth preparation classes with them and practice (and later use) the techniques they learn there. Very commonly women rely on their partners to provide physical as well as emotional support.  You might spend several hours rubbing her back, squeezing her hips, holding her hand and offering her water, supporting her in whatever position she adopts.  She might want you to catch the baby as it emerges (most likely during a homebirth), or cut the cord.  But every relationship is different.  Sometimes a woman wants you to be in the other room for the whole thing. Talk about it with your partner. The more you know beforehand, the easier it will be to meet those expectations in labor and to have the experience both of you want.

How involved do I have to be?

  

You and your partner can decide how involved you want to be. You’re her primary birth support, you can cut the cord, possibly catch your baby. Having fears that you are too squeamish to handle birth? Its really not as bloody and gory as movies make it out to be but you always have the options! Stay by moms side and encourage her instead of looking down under! If you really cant handle it take a quick breather! Another reason a dad and doula partnership make a great support team for mom.

Dads matter too!

  

So you already know how important your role is in this birth, and you're going to work really, really hard. We hope it helps to know I'll be caring for you as well as your partner during the birth. You are an integral part of this birth, not an extra person who's "in the way."  If you're birthing at home or in the hospital, I'll be encouraging you to eat, drink, sit, rest, conserve energy (I usually have some snacks on hand).  Also, as long as mom is okay with it, dads are very welcome at the pre and postnatal appointments where I'm happy to answer any questions you have.

You’re home now, you have your baby, now what??

The baby is here and now the whole thing is over. Nope. Its not over, it has just begun! Here are some ways that might save your relationship during the postpartum period:

  • Thank your partner for bringing your baby into the world.
  • Tell your partner that you love and are proud of her. (positive encouragement helps postpartum recovery)
  • Give her flowers (or a hot cup of coffee), bring her favorite dinner home one night.
  • Help her care for the baby. You may not be able to nurse the baby, but you can walk the baby to sleep when it's time, change diapers, bring the baby to her for feedings. Arrange for someone else like family or a postpartum doula to help so you can both get some rest.
  • Watch for signs of unusual depression. Depression is uncommon following a satisfying birth experience, but when it occurs, it needs to be dealt with.