Fathers can play a key role early on in pregnancy to help the mother and the baby get the care that is safest and healthiest. He is a very important advocate, and can provide emotional support for the mother throughout labour and birth.
The importance of fathers advocating for the best care is underscored by persistent and growing gaps in the quality of care women and babies often receive. Too often, unnecessary medical interventions are used in birth. For example, Caesarean births can come with unintended health consequences for both the mother and her baby.
Here are five tips to help fathers prepare for and provide support through pregnancy, labour and birth:
- Take a childbirth education class with your partner. A Lamaze class can help fathers learn about the different options and interventions, and get the tools and knowledge to push for the best care during pregnancy. Interaction with other couples attending the class will also help.
- Work with your partner to plan ahead. Discuss the different options for a safe and healthy birth plan. Labour and birth can be a dynamic process so it is vital to work together to plan and chalk out Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.
- Learn how to be an advocate for the mother. Birth is an intense process, emotionally and physically. It is important for the father to be informed and know how to advocate for her wishes.
- Find out about techniques to help minimize the pain. There are many natural ways, such as relaxation, to find greater comfort in childbirth and help labour progress. Every woman is unique and has her own ways of feeling comfortable and relaxed. The father can help identify and help her with pain-relief tools that are best suited for her.
- Be prepared to welcome the baby into the world and help the mother recover. Birth can be exhausting for both mother and the baby, and the father can help to support both after birth. Helping the mother by managing visitors, rocking baby to sleep after feeding, and making sure mother us fed and gets enough rest.
By sacrificing their emotional comfort to learn more about childbirth and advice on how to help their partners cope with the discomfort of giving birth, they are actually providing their spouses with a tremendous amount of love, support and concern.