What Role do Dads play during labour

When we talk about birth stories, most experiences are told from the point of view of mum – and with good reason, mums are the ones doing all the hard work.

But that’s not to say it’s a walk in the park for dad either. The difference is, they may not talk about it as much.

Psychologist and parenting expert Nicole Pierotti, says in her experience in talking to Dads, aside from talking to their partner about how they feel, they don’t really share it with too many others.

Women tend to talk to family and friends and gain support before and after in this way.  They have mixed feelings of nervousness, fear, being unsure of the unexpected, excited about meeting baby, or worried about getting to the hospital on time.

Just like women, men can have unrealistic expectations about labour and birth.

“I promote and encourage Mums and Dads to be positive, know that they will be able to cope, that their body is designed to give birth and that they will be okay.

“Yes they are nervous, most say that they feel utterly powerless to be able to help their partner whilst in labour.

“Men are very good at problem solving and want to solve problems and birth is more about support.”

Ms Pierotti says some Dads even feel guilty for being responsible for putting their partner through birth.

It is also highly emotional for them too when their baby is born and they see their baby for the first time.

Preparing for labour

It’s good idea to talk to someone about what support during labour actually means. Take part in some educational programs before, talking about support and what this is, which also includes really knowing their partner, and what she likes.

Of course, some of this may fly out the window once labour begins.

“Maybe that massage they talked about is suddenly really annoying whilst she is contracting.

“The same can go for scents or music. Mostly partners decide as labour progresses what their preferences are.”

What can dads do?

Be encouraging with words especially in between contractions, and try your best not to let stress show, says Ms Pierotti.

It’s okay for Dads to take a break too if needed as their partner will have others around to support her.

Partners need their man to be there, try these tips:

  • Be encouraging and supportive and tell your partner that they are doing well and can do this.
  • Tell your partner she is doing great, that you love her, that she is wonderful just to name a few.
  • Partners can also help by timing contractions or being in charge of photography on the day.
  • Try to stay calm.  Unfortunately for Dads, labour is about their partner and their baby, so don’t expect anyone to be looking after you.
  • So, think ahead, pack a bag with things you might need, such as snacks, books or music.
  • Dad’s most important job? Just be there.
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