Going to hospital to give birth is by far the most common situation. You’ll either go to a specific maternity hospital or a labour and delivery ward of a bigger hospital. Either way, you will walk into a facility filled with highly trained birth professionals such as hospital midwives. This can be very intimidating to an expectant father, leaving him uncertain of what to do.
While most modern births occur in hospital, you might have a continuity of care midwife who was either trained as a nurse prior to continuity education or one directly trained as a midwife. Your continuity of care midwife will see you throughout pregnancy, birth and afterward. In other countries, you’ll see a rotation of nurse-midwives throughout pregnancy and staff nurse midwives will be present in hospital who leave after their shift to be replaced by others. You might have had one or two appointments with an obstetrician but be considered ‘low risk’ throughout pregnancy and birth. On the other hand, your primary birth professional might be an obstetrician and your local hospital is staffed with midwives who help you but call in the obstetrician for the birth or if there is a problem. They are still professionals and you might not know exactly how to fit in.
Many times it’s easier for you, as a dad, to use your skills around an obstetrician because they come in, check things and go leaving you and your partner plenty of time to use your skills. Sometimes as a man you feel more standoffish around midwives who are mostly women because you fall into that age-old belief that ‘birth is Women’s Business’ and a midwife is the best person to guide your partner through the birthing experience. In fact, your job is to be the primary birth-coach and support for your birthing partner and let the hospital midwives do their job of making certain everything is ok. Don’t be confused by gender!
If you lack skills and don’t know how to help your birthing partner then maybe the staff midwives will step in or not. Not every woman who works as a midwife believes it’s her job to be a birth-coach. Some hospital midwives are interested and eager and others come in to do the necessary checks and are gone. If it’s busy you’ll only see them periodically.
Step up, become skilled, don’t be shy, use your skills to help your birthing partner do her job of birthing your baby. The staff midwives will have one response to your being a great birth-coach … ‘YIPPY, wish more dads were like you!’ Many hospital midwives never see pregnant women and only help during birth whether labor and delivery, labor and unplanned Caesarean or elective Caesarean. This means they have no opportunity to encourage you to become skilled. However, they see less than 1-20 skilled birth-coaches and wish they would see every dad know how to help his birthing partner. Step up and enjoy the praise.
Birthing Better skills were developed by moms and dads in the early 1970s in the US and used by many thousands globally in all types of birth. Birthing Better online birthing classes are housed in Common Knowledge Trust.