Just like women, men all have their own ways of being present for a birth. They have varying comfort levels with the process, which, though we all have to push our comfort zones in birth, should be respected. Here are the 10 birth personalities of dads. Most guys will fill more than one role during a birth.
Often in intense or natural labors, Mom will say that Dad was her “rock.” He eases her anxiety and keeps her centered with his calming presence and loving touch.
Bartender and Pee Police
One of the simplest ways dads help is to serve drinks to Mom…with a bendy straw, of course! Mom needs to stay hydrated, and she also needs to keep an empty bladder. So he also reminds her to pee.
There’s nothing like a good, strong hip squeeze in the midst of labor. Some men do hip squeezes for hours, alternating between using their legs and arms.
Some women like to kiss and cuddle their way through labor, and the Lover dad is there to bring sweet, sweet loving to her with his magic touch.
Holder of the Space
The Holder of the Space is just there. He is present for the mom, and maybe that’s all. His constant, calming presence helps her to relax and feel protected. He often becomes more hands-on when the baby arrives.
Labor is a lot of physical work, and the Friendly Furniture dad is there to lend his strength and love. He might be a passive post for Mom to hang from, he might support her in a squat, or be a lap to lean on, or hold an umbrella to keep the sun off of her.
“His earliest role in the birth process was to ensure survival—to protect the family from wild animals, or perhaps other tribes. As birth has become more industrialized, his role appears to have altered. But could it be that by entering the birthing room, the father is returning to his initial, primal role of protecting his loved ones?” —PATRICK HOUSER, Pathways #24.
There’s a lot to be done when a baby comes. Things to be collected, water to be boiled, older children to attend to, birth pools to be filled, smoothies to be prepared, the thermostat to be fiddled with. Someone’s gotta do it.
Like a dad doula, the Contraction Whisperer is the guy who is able to keep Mom’s attention and breathe with her, moan with her, talk to her, and otherwise actively help her through each surge.
One of the most important duties for the laboring mom’s partner is to be the bouncer. The Bouncer removes anyone who is messing with Mom’s ability to relax and feel positive. He asks for a new nurse, he sends his mother to the store for something that might be needed, he ushers the doctor into the hall and tells her that if she mentions a cesarean one more time they will leave the hospital without so much as returning the ugly gown.
The Affirmation Machine
Usually the person in the room who knows Mom the best is her partner. The Affirmation Machine knows just what to say and when to remind Mom of her own strength and ability. He is a loving coach, verbally praising her and often holding her hand.
We asked our readers how their men supported them in labor. Here’s what they said.
My husband began supporting me in my birth the day we found out we were pregnant. He loved me and cared for me, learned with me and encouraged me. When the time came to birth our son, we were so in sync that he just naturally knew what I needed. His 100 percent support and effort during my whole pregnancy and birth was such an amazing gift—a true blessing. He has continued this support into motherhood! —Michelle Holmes Klinger
My husband, Matt, made labor and delivery easier by being there emotionally and physically, allowing me to relax, surrender, and allow the process to unfold naturally from the moment I knew I was pregnant to the birth, both times. If he saw a place he could help he jumped in wholeheartedly, and I am so grateful for the experience! —Nicole Poirier Keenan
Sacrum massage/counterpressure, emotional support, timing contractions, calling the midwife, doula, etc., holding my puke bowl then rinsing it out, filling the tub, and even being a physical support to lean against (he was in the tub with me) when our daughter was born. —Laura Van Roo
My husband spent eight hours rubbing my back, bless him. I even tried to pretend a rush wasn’t coming on so he could get a break—he saw through that, ha ha. He also persuaded me to have a home birth. Best decision ever! —Samantha Van Norman
We kicked labor off with a chiropractic adjustment, rocked and rolled on the exercise ball through active labor and transition, and ended with a hug and kiss when we met our son. —Rebecca Slupski Bortolussi
My husband was an island of calm at all seven of our home births, especially the one where it was just him and the cord was around baby’s neck. He supported me emotionally (and physically, since I stood for a number of them). He even did massive cleanup when necessary. —Mary Jo Horner
Rubbing my back, holding me, supporting me, and smiling for the entire six hours! —DocBryn Gillow
He walked with me for the first 24 hours as I tried to walk my little boy into this world. Then when it was time, he brought me my heating pad, massaged my back and sacrum, just listened, stroked my brow, gave me my water, and helped me focus. —Meggan Medley
At the birth of my second son, Max, I lost my cool. Labor was hard and furious and I kept saying, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it. I need drugs.” My husband held my hands and said in the clearest voice, “Pam, you are doing it.” He got the midwife to put me in water and started simply counting from one to seven with each contraction. I knew if I could make it to seven, it would be OK. Later the midwife told me that he would slow the countdown excruciatingly (for her), and I had cut off circulation to his hand with my gripping it, but I had no idea. My total focus for four hours was on the count of one to seven. He was instrumental in helping Max to come into a candle-filled water birth of peace. I couldn’t have done it without him, and I have never loved him more. —Pam Jarboe
He never left my side, he catered to the women helping me (feeding them, refilling their drinks, etc.), and gave me space to do my thing! —Cynthia Gabaldon, D.C.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #50.
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