If you’ve been here long, you’ll notice that we focus a lot on all things “natural”.
Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple about to deliver their first child and the topic of the Dad’s role in the birth came up.
I thought it would be fun to interview my babies daddy and shed some light on stepping into your role during birth. Kind of a “the things nobody told us and we learned the long way” type of thing.
Me: If you could tell a first time “Dad to be” some bullet points for being a champion “natural” dad and stepping into his role in his family, what would you tell him?
1. “The most important thing is to listen.” To understand. Not just to hear. And not just to your wife. Listen when the doctors, midwives, and nurses when they talk. Carefully, and ask questions. You’re not listening to comply, but to understand so that you can help your wife understand and make informed decisions for your family. Ask all of your questions and test the answers. Look it up. Listen to other dads and parents. Listen to people who have done what you and your wife want to do in terms of the plan she has for her birth, body, baby, etc. “Sometimes you are the first and only line of defense for your wife and child.” You are there to support here. Everyone else is there to do a job.
2. “Learn about the protocols for birth at the place you plan to deliver.” Do they “room in”? Do they take the baby to the nursery? Do they require interventions like monitors, medications, etc.? “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to go against the “norm”. Your wife is an individual and so is your baby. Your story will look different from the couple next door and that’s awesome, not bad. When my wife asked me about circumcision, for instance, I knew I had learned that it wasn’t my first choice. Looking back, I wish I had brought her research and informed evidence because I should have known that that particular body part wasn’t her area of expertise. We both wish we hadn’t chosen that for our sons. I looked at it like this were her choice and that wasn’t being true to myself and my knowledge, and it it certainly didn’t help her.
3.“You are her “birth liaison. Speak for her.” Birth can be intense and losing focus doesn’t help your wife or the baby. We’ve had both kinds. Ones were I sat back because I didn’t know any better and ones where I was basically fielding all of the things while we watched my wife do her thing. The second kind is the way to go. “Know your birth plan. When someone has a question, they can ask you and you can communicate with your wife. You’ll let the asker know when you do. The goal is to be a wall that protects her ability to focus. A focused woman is a productive woman.” This goes back to knowing the hospital protocols. When the baby is born in a hospital setting, everything happens fast. The baby is born and its “cut the cord, wipe them off, bath, etc.”, If that’s not your birth plan, you don’t want to get caught up and say the wrong thing or allow something unnecessary just because it’s the way the hospital does it.
4. “Step up.” Your wife is going to push a human out of her body. She’s going to be exhausted. Be prepared to forget what sleep is for a while. Know how to change a diaper and watch a clock. Your wife will want to baby to nurse, but if she’s got to sleep or eat or shower, you’re the man for the job. You can hold the baby and provide that comfort and you’re going to need it. This is your kid’s first time meeting you. Might as well make it a big occasion and spend some quality time holding.
5. “Don’t ask her to put the baby down because of something you want her to do.” Just like this is your time to step into your role, by design, the baby needs to be on your wife. They need her body to regulate their body temperature, breathing, and simply touching her skin fires off so much brain development. “When the baby cries, pick him/her up.” That’s teaching your child the very fundamental truth that you’ll be there for them.
6. “Become a great encourager.” Your job once your wife is pregnant and for the rest of your life is to encourage her. She’s designed to do it all, but she will need you there to constantly reinforce that because her drive to be the best mother is also the source of her greatest self doubt. If you tell her how amazed you are by her, and you’ll be blown away at what she’s made of and her strength, you’ll unleash a confidence in her that will get your whole family through. You’ve gotta walk in your role so you can help her walk in hers.
Somewhere over the generations, we’ve lost sight of passing down the good stuff. The information we need most. We wind up feeling like we don’t have everything we need to walk out who we already are. People have been having babies since the beginning of humanity. You can definitely “DIY” the dad life. It’s okay to surprise yourself.