It's not hard to become the best birth coach ever. Start by reading this article and you're almost there.
You're not alone. It's hard to know what to expect the first time round. If you hear a group of women talking about childbirth, you quickly realise it's a very painful, complicated and long, drawn-out process.
What’s more, you soon realise something’s expected of you. You’re going to be present at the birth and you want to help. But how?
One of the best things a man can do – both for yourself and your partner – is to be prepared! To help, we have put together a three-step plan to ensure that you will be the kind of birth coach your partner needs.
1. Know what to expect
Become a hunter and seek information. There are countless books about pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing. But the only thing you need to do is read the material on this site!
Reading up not only helps you feel part of the process, it also makes your partner feel loved and supported.
It’s a good idea to attend as many antenatal classes as possible – you’ll gain a great appreciation of what labour and birth entails, from start to finish. Sometimes it can happen quickly, but rarely. For most women labour is a journey, and it’ll be helpful to understand that this journey comes in three stages.
It’s also good to visually prepare for the big day – watch a video of a vaginal or c-section birth. It will enlighten you about the messy and unglamorous side of labour.
2. Be Prepared
Understand your role as coach. Your midwife is there to ensure your partner and baby cope well during labour and birth. But you have a big role in helping your partner get comfortable and in communicating her wishes. Discuss the birth plan with your partner and ensure you understand her preferences regarding things like pain relief and intervention. It’s also beneficial to develop a good rapport with your midwife or LMC, as during labour you may need to voice your partner’s preferences if she is not in the right frame of mind to do so herself.
3. Be prepared for what’s coming
Truth is, however, that the labour and birth soon pale in comparison to the challenge of living with a newborn baby. Wonderful though those early days are, the lack of sleep takes its toll, the change in lifestyle is immense and it’s likely both of you will be on an emotional rollercoaster. Some dads feel clumsy around their newborn simply because they lack confidence. The secret is to be as hands-on as possible right from the start. By interacting with your baby you learn they’re not as inadequate as you feared. Remember, your partner’s learning, too.