Redefining the Role of Dad as the Birth Partner in Alexandria VA
I attended a wonderful conference this past weekend on the Webster technique. Webster technique is an assessment and chiropractic adjustment of a pregnant mother’s pelvis to allow optimal alignment for the mom and her baby (learn more). As a side note of the conference, we talked about the dad’s or birth partner’s role during the actual birthing process (from here on referred to as “dad”). The more I listened, the more I reflected on the idea that moms have a plethora of information available to them in terms of classes, groups, books regarding childbirth. Obviously her role is also very clearly defined for the birthing process itself. What struck me was – what about dad? What are his resources? What exactly is his role? My experience is that these things are not answered or not answered clearly which leaves a lot of dads feeling unsure of what they should be doing when the birth takes place. In many cases, the default is that dad becomes a secondary support role providing ice chips, back rubs and breathing reminders. All supportive and important, but does it really have to stop there?
- What is the birth plan? It’s the classic Cheshire cat scenario – if you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t really matter what direction you take. Dad should be absolutely crystal clear about what the birth plan is. Obviously this is one you sit down with mom on but don’t take the back seat either – this is your baby coming into the world for the first time. Think hard about this one and bring your own ideas to the table, mom wants to know you are invested in the process and you care about how things go. Here is a great article about how to put one of these together.
- What is your job during the birth? Again most dads tend to be task oriented and will default to what can I get you? What can I do? This is an answer that is going to be different for everyone but know that usually there is other people who would be happy to go fill up a glass of water. Make sure your time is being maximized because as dad you are going to be able to provide the emotional, psychological, and physical support that no one else can. This doesn’t mean always doing what your told – you need to be able to hold the line when it is appropriate. Making sure mom is eating/drinking enough, telling the hospital that residents are not welcome at this birth or whatever is part of your birth plan, it is your responsibility to execute it.
- How are you managing the team? Mom is focusing on the birth which means you are in charge of managing the external environment that it’s happening in. Is someone stressing mom out? Are there too many people congregating? Is someone having a conversation that is not conducive to a good birth environment? Are the lights too bright? This is not time to make friends, this is the time to buckle down and make sure things are in their proper place for mom and baby. Don’t be afraid to protect your cave.
A lot of dads spend more time thinking about their fantasy line-up for the week then they do for how they want their child to come into this world. Expecting dads, lets change the context of dad is “here for what you ask for” during birth. Let’s own the process well before the birth even happens. Get engaged, get clear, and get ready to execute.
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