“In this postmodern era, we have gone beyond the unconscious, anesthetized births of the 1940’s and 1950’s, the systematic elimination of lay midwifery, the demise of breastfeeding, and even ‘natural childbirth’ to an enormous range of options and historical shifts. These include the presence and active involvement of fathers during pregnancy and at birth.” (Davis-Floyd & Sargent, 1997)
Women are making empowered birth choices, and they want their partners there to support them. Men might not know how to get involved, or might feel anxious about the process because it’s not happening in their bodies. Yet the pregnancy is a vital time for bonding between the couple and preparing for this new life to enter the family.
Making empowered birth choices means taking responsibility, educating yourself, and holding a vision of what you want your birth to be — together. Write that vision down. That’s your birth plan. Think about who will be there, what kind of food you’ll be eating, if you’ll have a birth pool, if your older children will be there. Allow the birth plan to evolve as the pregnancy progresses.
If you are an expectant mom and you want your partner to be more present and involved, you can help him understand the importance of his role by asking him questions about his ideas of birth and becoming a father. Have a conversation about what matters to him, and what concerns he might have.
If you’re an expectant father, congratulations! You’re already a dad. Every bit of care and attention that you offer to the pregnant mama is also for the baby inside of her. Here are some ways to be proactive in your approach to getting involved.
What can I do?
- Understanding the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum process is key.
- Go to the childbirth education classes
- Talk to other dads
- Be present at the appointments with the birth professional
- Get one-on-one coaching
- Read blogs books, and watch videos of births that embody the birth you want
- Physical exercise: get your heart rate up at least 3 times a week. Every day is even better
- Meditate on becoming a father: what does it mean to you?
- Eat healthy, nutrient dense food and drink
- Drink an alkalizing beverage such as water with lemon, green drink
- Get the right amount of sleep for your body
- Think positive thoughts about the birth and becoming a dad
Make it easy on yourself.
Connect with your birth professionals. This is your opportunity to ask questions, speak up about concerns, and create a bond with them so that you can all be on the same team supporting the birthing mama.
*This is part one of a four part series: Pregnancy, Birth, Postpartum, and Breastfeeding.
Davis-Floyd, R.E. & Sargent, C.F. (1997). Childbirth and authoritative knowledge: Cross cultural perspectives. Berkely, CA: University of California Press.