When it comes to helping your partner giving birth, you will need to be the carrier of everything, from bags and birth balls to the weight of expectations.
Men can provide support at many levels. As you’ve seen on TV, you can help with massage, fanning her brow, helping with positions, bringing her drinks and snacks. You will need to sustain your energy throughout the night also, so remember to bring plenty snacks so you don’t have to go hunter-gathering when you are most needed by her side.
Most likely birth will be during night-time. It goes back to early programming and the body relaxing more during night-time. The science bit is the hormone Melatonin – which helps to kick-start labour. That’s the sleep hormone – stimulated by darkness. So it helps if there are no bright lights. This will often be difficult to achieve in hospital. Two of our 3 were born at home, one being born during the day. Our house was cave-like in darkness throughout that day.
The two hormones that get labour going are progesterone and oxytocin. The good news is that us men can bring these to the party naturally. Progesterone is present in semen whilst oxytocin is the love hormone – so get jiggy and help get labour underway! Then there’s no need for synthetic substitutes being provided medically. You won’t find that piece of information in the hospital literature… But you will find it in resources that promote less-medicalised births.
During contractions, go with your partner’s energy and with whatever she needs at that moment. She might want to hold you, you to hold her or to stay back entirely. She will need you to trust her instincts – utterly. Birth happens more easily when the woman feels empowered. The more information the better – so be ready to do the leg work and find answers to her questions. Try to leave your own anxiety outside. Adrenaline is contagious, so if your stress levels are high, she will start to get anxious too, and the adrenaline hormone halts labour. Dad needs to provide strength and support – not to add to stress and anxiety.
The more empowered and trusting the woman is of herself, and of her ability to withstand pain, the less likelihood of a medicalised birth. Prepare for this – do antenatal classes or birth preparation classes to empower yourselves, such as Cuidiu antenatal classes or Gentlebirth. My wife Amy has recently started teaching under the Cuidiu umbrella and runs classes in Cork as Totallybirth. Remember that both men and women are designed to cope with the experience of birth since the beginning of time.
Fathers bring a huge amount to the birth experience. You will never ever forget it – in every detail. It will likely be the most emotional experience of your own life. You will want to savour it forever. As well as being proud of your partner and baby, you will take pride in your achievement, your place in it all, your being a man, and now a dad. Good luck on your journey!