Consider a Doula
In preparing for the big day, consider hiring a doula to help provide both you and your partner support. Birth doulas don't take the place of the father in the delivery room or at home, but can take the edge off so a father can follow through on the birth plan even when his partner is ready to throw in the towel.
According to Jennifer Nunn, the former president of DONA (Doulas of North America) who has been assisting women in the birthing process since 1989, doulas can also help relieve fathers of many of the responsibilities of having to remember everything. "For some dads that gets very stressful," she says. "The doula is there to help him remember how he can help her. It's very hard sometimes to watch the person you love in pain."
Perotta says the birth of his first child, Joseph, who was delivered by Cesarean without the support of a doula, was a very different experience than his second child with a doula. He says he felt stressed, his mind often racing with questions.
He also has trouble remembering much about the days and weeks following that first birth. "I remember we lived in a four-story house, and my wife was in the bedroom," he says. "I remember running up and down those stairs every five minutes. I remember being nervous about the car seat and things like that." His wife went on to become a birth doula herself so she could offer new moms and dads assistance.
Not only do doulas help during the birth, they can also help after delivery. Postpartum doulas can help Mom and Dad make a smoother transition into parenthood.
Nunn says through research, they found postpartum doulas ease postpartum depression in women, help get breastfeeding off to a better start, and facilitate bonding. She says postpartum doulas, which are different than birth doulas, often help with light housecleaning or preparing meals. "They are not there to be nannies or baby nurses," Nunn says. "Their role, just like a birth doula, is to empower the couple in their role as parents. Her ultimate goal is to work herself out of a job. She is helping them feel more comfortable in their roles."