The Role of Fathers in Childbirth Education: Nurturing Partnerships for Positive Birth Experiences

by Miles Oliver

There’s no denying that mothers are doing the majority of the work when it comes to childbirth. There’s not much a father can do about that, but it can often leave them feeling helpless or even unprepared and uneducated about the whole experience.  

 Don’t let outdated stereotypes about a father’s role in childbirth keep you from getting involved. Fathers have a pivotal role in childbirth education. If your partner is giving birth, it’s up to you to take proactive measures to create a safe and supportive environment. Understanding this role and what to expect can help you feel more confident in the experience. It can also help you to feel like you’re a bigger part of childbirth.  

 If you’re not sure how to effectively nurture partnerships for positive birth experiences, there are practical steps that can make a big difference. They can start long before the baby is born and continue even after you’ve brought your bundle of joy home.  

Holistic Health During the Preparation Phase 

As a father-to-be, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare for your little one. Some of the most practical ways to get yourself and your home ready are to buy baby supplies, put together a nursery, and educate yourself on how to care for your newborn right away.  

 But, don’t ignore the needs of your partner – and yourself – right now.  

 Your partner’s body is changing as they go through the gestation period. You might not be able to fully understand exactly what they’re experiencing, but you can help them through those changes by offering them physical and emotional support. Some of the best and easiest ways to do that include:  

  • Encouraging her and providing reassurance; 
  • Showing affection; 
  • Asking what she needs; 
  • Preparing her healthy meals; 
  • Encouraging her to take breaks. 

 Additionally, consider what personal care products might help her feel better. Even the basics, like soap, body wash, and lotion, can help her feel her best when she’s stressed, sore, and emotionally drained. Opt for products that are gentle on the skin and do not contain phthalates, which can disrupt hormone levels, or sulfates. Buy the products she loves, or consider choosing natural products that are meant to help reduce stress, like lotions and soaps with aromatherapy.   

 It is best to avoid items with retinoids, hydroquinone, and parabens. These chemicals can be harmful to your pregnant partner and potentially your unborn child and are unfortunately found in many cosmetic items, according to the International Forum for Wellbeing in Pregnancy.  

 Don’t forget to “splurge” on your own products, too! You can’t pour from an empty cup, and while things like mouthwash, lotions, and soaps might seem like simple toiletries, they can go a long way in making you feel refreshed and cared for.  

Playing a Bigger Role in Childbirth 

Research has shown that men clearly aren’t invisible at the time of their children’s birth. One study found that 93 percent currently sign their child’s birth certificate. But there are other ways to assist your partner during the labor and birth process. 

 One of the best things you can do now, before your partner gives birth, is to educate yourself as much as possible. Consider working with a doula or midwife along with your partner. Ask questions when she meets with her OBGYN. In addition to parenting books, consider how your partner’s specific background and genetics might impact her birthing experience and the needs of your baby. For example, consider how her diet might affect the microbiome of your newborn. It’s something that often gets overlooked, but can help with your infant’s gastrointestinal health and might make it easier for your partner to breastfeed if they go that route.  

 Help your partner make a birth plan. It should include things like:  

  • Where she wants to have the baby; 
  • Whether she wants any medications;  
  • The position she wants to give birth in; 
  • Who she would like to be present. 

 Tour the hospital with her if she wants to have your baby there. Talk to pediatricians ahead of time. Do what you can to prepare a safe and comfortable place for her before and during labor, and step in as her birthing coach. Even if you can just hold her hand and guide her breathing, you’re doing something extremely helpful.  

Bringing Baby Home 

A father’s real work begins once your newborn is home and you can play a more active role in the post-birth experience for both mom and baby. It starts with establishing a safe and secure home environment from day one. You might not think about “baby-proofing” things right away. But, your little one will start moving around sooner than you think! Consider how you can effectively childproof your garage, kitchen, or other areas of the home, by securing hazardous products, putting tools away, and blocking electrical outlets.  

 In addition to fostering a safe environment, make sure you establish a comfortable one for your whole family. Any new parent will tell you having a newborn at home isn’t easy. Your sleep schedules will be irregular for a while, you’re transitioning to parenthood for the first time, and there’s a lot to learn right away. Do what you can to foster peace and tranquility for everyone by keeping a clean home, playing soft music, and using soothing scents that are safe for mom and baby to relax everyone.  

 There’s a bigger role of fathers in childbirth education than most people think. Use these tips to nurture your partnership, step into that role, and be a strong support system for your partner and baby.  

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