Ideas of practical things for the Dad/Partner/Support person to do:
If planning a Hospital Birth:
- Learn how to change nappies
- Learn how to bath a baby
- Organise car seat and know how to use it
- Keep petrol in car
- Film in the camera
- Phone cards or phone charged
- List of phone numbers for whom to ring if needed
- Know how to contact your LMC (Lead Maternity Carer)
- Organise baby area
- Go along to as many of the doctor's visits as possible
- Take on more of the household chores
- Go for walks with her, encourage regular pregnancy safe exercise
- Eat healthy; ensure your home has all the right healthy foods available
- Keep your cool; your partner is going through some major emotional and hormonal changes (so it's not always about you)
- Communicate with her, and listen to her needs
- Do an antenatal class together
- Contribute to a Birth Plan
- Give her lots of TLC and tell her she looks great and is doing a great job
- Communicate with her, and listen to her needs and express your needs and concerns
- Assess your financial situation; planning well in advance often softens the financial blow Enjoy it as much as you can
If planning a Home Birth:
- Hospital bag
- Organise who is looking after any other children, pets, house
- Food, drinks to take to hospital
- Know how to get to hospital
- Where to park at hospital
- Waterproof covering on car seat/bed mattress for when waters break
- May be asked to provide the following:
- Washing up bowl, cold and hot water
- Sanitary towels
- Torch/spot light
- Container to put the placenta in
- Hot water bottle or heater to warm baby clothes and towels
- The room needs to be kept warm for when the baby is born.
- A working phone, though the most midwives carry a mobile phone
- Time some contractions: how long and time between start of one to start of next
- Support and reassurance. Using the question to the Mum-to-be "what is your expectation of me at the birth?" can open up communication around advocating and support at a birth.
- Drinks, Ice to suck on
- Heat Packs
- Visualization: eg peaceful pictures or photos of places you have visited (use rotating photos on a lap top if available)
- Massage and acupressure
Debra Betts is a New Zealand registered nurse qualifying as an acupuncturist in London. You can download her acupressure booklet via her web site.
Web Site: http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/
Message to visitors
- Restrict visitors if partner tired (allow for rest during the day)
- Baby Bathing
- Laundry, Housework, Meals
- Home Safety: gates where needed, move poisons before baby is mobile
- Email message or message on answer phone re birth details and visiting
Visitors is a personal thing, some people will welcome them others won't. Sometimes all can depend on how much sleep you have had. Everyone wants to come see the new baby and it is hard for tired new parents to say "No".
Messages via email, answer phone or even a note on the front door can help eg:
- New family needs some settling in and recovery time.
- If you wish to visit us prefer this to be ...(day and time)
- If we are at the hospital please don't ring the staff, as they don't have time to answer calls.
- The visiting hours at the hospital are...
- You can contact us on...please ring before you come, we may be catching up on sleep.
- If you have a cold or flue could you wait till better as babies immune systems are immature.
- All food very much appreciated.
It may sound rude telling when they can or can't come but you and the baby need to come first.
As a Nurse and Midwife I have learnt to be able to care for other people, you need to care for yourself first. Same goes with parents, how are you going to look after a baby if you are not meeting your own basic needs of food and sleep.
Birth is holistic it is not just physical it is emotional and spiritual. People present who are important to the labouring woman are part of this. Fathers may not have carried the baby but they helped create them.
In one blog on DIY Father it was written "I thought our home-birth midwife was pretty progressive, but she seemed almost shocked as I attended each visit. Most of what was said was directed at my wife, even though it pertained to our baby or us. Many times before, during and after labour I could tell that our midwife was trying to include me in the experience, but didn't really know what to do. Midwife means 'with the wife,' or something like that, in German. However, a midwife's role necessarily involves the entire family, whanau, or support system."
If you do look up the word history it does say: A midwife was literally "with woman" or "a woman who assists other women in childbirth".
Thus I have named this article "with Dad".
With this article I had help from DIY Father. It is a group of fathers who set up a web site called DIYFather.com - an online interactive forum for Dads that offers resources, discussion groups and practical information about parenting from a male perspective. They have just launched a book named Call me Dad.
For more details see their website or download the PDF brochure (566kb)