Labor Guide for Husbands and Dads
Why Be There?
Labor is an intense experience for women, and having someone there to support them and empathize with them helps women cope better, have a more rewarding birth experience, decrease labor pain, and can even shorten the labor time! Husbands or dads who are capable of bolstering their wives' confidence and calming their fears are excellent candidates to provide support during labor. Even if the mom-to-be has a midwife, the midwife may not be able to provide the same type of critical support that a loving partner can provide.
What Should Husbands and Dads Know About Labor?
Husbands and dads should be familiar with the process of labor and the types of medical interventions that will occur during this process. They should ideally practice breathing exercises and coping strategies with their partner so that when that critical day arrives, everybody is well versed in what to do, thereby lowering anxiety levels. Towards this end, attending birthing classes with the mom-to-be is an excellent means of preparation.
However, since anything can happen in the labor room, husbands and dads should also expect the unexpected and be prepared to help the birth mom make some vital decisions regarding her and/or the baby's care.
Specific Labor Roles for Dads
Physical Aid: Mothers-to-be are greatly assisted by a labor coach who helps them with breathing techniques and relaxation exercises, and who can give them a massage. Dads can also help move women into a more comfortable position, squeeze their hand, fan or cool their forehead, provide a drink, and more.
Emotional Rock: A labor partner needs to provide a lot of encouragement, praise, reassurance, and emotional empathy. Husbands and dads may be the ideal candidates to provide this type of support for their partner who is going through the labor process.
Decision-Makers and Information Providers: Should a woman have to make a difficult decision concerning her and/or the baby's health, she will probably want the baby's father to be by her side in the labor room. In addition, husbands and dads can keep mom apprised of her progress, tell her what is happening around her, and make helpful suggestions.
Advocate: Women in the midst of a contraction or a painful or intense labor process may not have the presence of mind to ask for what they need. Husbands and dads can act as their advocates at these times. Advocacy can be as simple as making sure their partner has what she needs to be physically comfortable, or it can entail asking critical questions regarding important care decisions, requesting time to consider options, et cetera. It is recommended that husbands or dads be familiar with the expecting mom's opinions about various labor procedures and any relevant religious beliefs she may hold.
Labor Tips-of-the-Day for Husbands and Dads
You may be at the hospital for a long time! Be sure to have plenty of food and drink to sustain you and help keep your stamina up. The hospital cafeteria might not be close by and you may not be able to leave the labor room to get there.
The labor experience can be draining for labor partners as well as for moms. It is important you look after yourself by taking food and rest breaks when feasible.
Know what to expect during labor! Your partner may be very anxious and tensions may rise. You need to have a strong backbone, keep the big picture in mind, and just like mom - don't forget to breath!