Kimberly and Barret, also first-time parents, chose natural birth with a physician and a doula in a hospital. Barret was eager to help Kimberly achieve her goals and noted, "I was happy to let nature take its course. What worried me most was how Kim was going to handle it and if it would just be too much for her. She certainly proved otherwise. Truthfully, I was much more worried of her having to go through a C-section or drawn-out, medicated birth."
Dads-to-Be as Coaches
Many dads-to-be fear failing their partners. A drug-free birth can require an enormous level of attention, knowledge of the birth process, support, and strength from the father. Some men doubt their ability to stay calm—or even vertical—in the delivery room. Television programs, family members, and friends often joke about fathers passing out during childbirth, and that image can be hard to overcome with a spirit of confidence.
As the trusted lead support person, the dad-to-be can start by stepping up and making a game plan. Think Monday Night Football and plan like a coach!
Making a Game Plan
As a couple, become educated on your options, medical procedures, and the normal course of pregnancy and childbirth. Choose caregivers who support your choices in childbirth and appreciate the benefits of a drug-free birth rather than focus on possible bad outcomes.
Birth plans, books, DVDs, and a comprehensive natural childbirth class will give Dad-to-be plenty of resources with which to work. Many books specifically target men and can provide answers and comfort to father-specific concerns. Check out The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, and The Expectant Father, by Armin Brott.
During the pregnancy, a man can find out what makes his partner comfortable, relaxed, and conversely, what stresses her out. Knowing a woman's fears and how to soothe them opens a path of communication and trust which will prove invaluable during childbirth.
Many men find that during the labor, the mother is unable to verbalize her needs, but through months of preparation, he finds himself alert and receptive to her slightest desires. The ability to respond to the labor builds confidence in the father and trust in the mother.
If the birth does not go as planned, the skills learned and gained during pregnancy will get the couple through any hard times and set up a foundation for dealing with the trying weeks of early parenting.