How important are Dads during birth anyway?

Words by Sophie

We amble through life on many different paths, with different people but a great many of us eventually choose a partner and settle down. This we do together, as a team, a unit and it works damn good most of the time. The togetherness, love and security we feel keeps us safe and secure. The next step is one day, one way or another to create a little life together.

At this point, everything changes. 

Mum pees on that little stick and suddenly everything is about her. Midwife appointments, scans, conversations, adverts, doctors’ appointments, antenatal groups, unsolicited advice. Everything in our lives regarding pregnancy and birth separates parents to be and focuses entirely on Mum. Yes, totally Mum is awesome, she is growing a baby! She will experience childbirth so more focus is natural and understandable BUT somewhere along the way we have totally forgotten the Father’s role. 

We have this attitude that Dads are just there for the ride. Your job is to head out at 2am to find a bag of lemon sherbet or to rub mum’s head sympathetically when she is hysterically crying for no reason. Very good at looking after Mum but not actually vital at this point, you have done your bit in the process. 

Forget all of this, Dads you ARE needed at the birth of your baby! You are vital and here is why!

The birth environment we have today does not focus on the continuation of care that can be so important to a positive experience by helping mum to feel calm, safe and secure. We no longer (unless we pay for an independent midwife or Doula) have one person caring for Mums throughout labour, pregnancy and birth. But we do! Dads you are her continuation of care! You are there all the way through from conception, birth and beyond. You KNOW mum, you know better than anyone else! You know what makes her relaxed, what makes her scared. She loves you, she will feel safe with you. If mum feels safe she will relax. All the muscles in her body will relax and she will produce the love hormone, Oxytocin, and her body will do what it is made to do; birth your baby gently and calmly.

Nature knows you are vital too. If you are a part of the birthing process and are there when your baby is born your hormones will change in a similar way to Mum’s. Contact with Mum and your new baby will increase your levels of Oxytocin and decrease your testosterone levels (not permanently it will go back don’t worry!) This is all in preparation for you to help nurture and care for your child. Vasopressin which plays an important role in bonding with our partner is increased and to top it off Prolactin, the mothering hormone is produced as well!

The birthing process is as much to do with you as Mum, Hypnobirthing helps to nurture this partnership between Mums and Dads. It works wonders towards achieving a calm and natural birth. You made the baby, you help grow the baby by looking after Mum and you will raise the baby - you need to be there in mind as well as body when your baby is born.

The same goes for the first weeks, months and years of baby’s life. Yes, of course they need Mum with her comfort, familiar presence and milk supply but they also need you. Humans are rare in the animal kingdom. We are part of a very small group in which Dads play an important and significant role in raising their children. 

Dr Sears explored the role of the Father and he concluded that a non-nutritive caregiver is important for babies emotional and social development. You even have something that will help here. Your voice box vibrates more than Mums and the sound is deeper. If you are holding baby close, they can feel this against their head and it can be soothing for them.

Your baby will learn your similarities and differences to Mum but will know that these differences are good and safe. Your baby has also been listening to you talk the whole time they have been in their Mother’s womb. They know your voice; they know you are their parent. Just being present during birth and holding your baby skin to skin, as well as Mum, in their first few hours will help to nurture the bond you will have for a life time.

If Dads are interested and knowledgeable about breastfeeding, then Mums are more likely to be successful and continue. You can guide and support Mum, and be her partner through the first few weeks of Motherhood. 

Creating and nurturing this partnership is so fantastic for the next step; parenthood. You are starting out on this journey. If you cement team parent and both feel valued, respected and listened too it will be an incredible springboard to jump positively into being a new Mum and Dad!

We love working with Dads on our courses. Seeing a couple navigate the journey of pregnancy together is a wonderful thing to be part of. Get in touch to book your course now. Dads I promise you will become more than a hand holder, you will become the most vital support in the birth room.