Congratulations! Your partner is carrying a life that is half you! Wow! Your life is going to change so much in just a few short weeks or months. The love you will feel when you look into your baby’s eyes will surpass any feeling you have ever experienced, and hopefully watching your partner give life to your child will be the best moment of your life. I wanted to write to you to give you some help navigating the childbirth waters (no pun intended).
First and foremost, if you hire a doula, and I strongly suggest that you do, remember that while your doula’s primary role is to assist the person giving birth and support them, your doula is also working to give you the best experience possible. Your doula cares about you, and cares about the relationship you have with your partner. Your doula wants this experience to bring you both closer together. Hopefully, if your doula does their job right, they will walk out of the room and leave a new family of three snuggling, teary-eyed, and completely in love. Most of this comes naturally just by meeting your child for the first time, but there are so many things your doula can do during birth to enhance your experience as a father. Your doula will remind you of positions, pressure points, and phrases to help bring the two of you closer, and at the end, your partner will feel your love and support. Remember, no one loves your partner more than you, and no matter how much time your doula spends with you and your partner, they will not be able to love them as much as you do. It is our job to use that love that you have and our expertise of birth to facilitate a beautiful birth experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Go to childbirth classes, lactation consultant meetings, pediatrician consultations, doula interviews, and OB/midwife appointments. Go to every single one that you can and ask every single question you can. Don’t know what a fundal height means? Ask your partner’s doctor. The more you know, the more you can support your partner. If you are out of the loop on these things, your partner may begin to feel alone in this journey, and since this baby was brought here by the two of you, neither of you should feel alone.
The answer is yes. Yes to all the birth preferences. Lotus birth? Sounds great! Only playing Elvis Presley during labor? PERFECT! This is not the time for you to ask for your mother to come in. This is not the time to turn on the TV during a contraction unless your partner explicitly asks you to. This is the time to answer the call to action. Your only job is to support your partner.
Get that skin to skin. If you can, take your shirt off while your partner is pushing or delivering the placenta. Be ready to receive your new baby without any barriers. Skin to skin with you can regulate body temperature, heart rate, and significantly increase bonding. It is the best thing you can give yourself and your child at this time.
This is real. It can be hard to feel connected or a part of the process when it isn’t physically occurring in your body. But rest assured, this baby is very very real, and soon you will think “oh my gosh you were that!”. If you begin to feel disconnected, as silly as it may sound, try to find ways to bond with your baby before s/he is born. Read, talk, sing, or just touch your partner’s belly. It’s okay if you feel weird, at the end, you will feel a more intense bond with your partner and your baby.
You can do this. You can. You will give everything you have to your partner, to your baby, to your family. You are loved. And your partner is risking everything to give you more love in your life. Things are about to get big. Buckle up, ease in, and be present. You will be great.