Whether a man is talking about his concerns out loud or not, there are some things that a mom can do to help make his experience of the birth a pleasant one. This in turn helps mom when it is time to give birth.
- Figure Out What is Worrying Him
When the talk turns to childbirth moms are usually talking about what's in store for them. Talks typically include who will be there, what they intend to do for pain and perhaps what will go one once the baby is born. Consider sitting down and specifically talking about dad's role at birth. What his jobs are and how he can prepare for them. This might elicit where his concerns lie. If not, consider asking point blank, "Is there something that concerns up about the birth?"
- Talk About It
If you can identify what the issue is surrounding the birth, talk about it. Is he afraid of blood? Is he afraid to see you in pain? Is he worried that he isn't really needed? Once you know what it is, figure out what you can do to help alleviate his concerns or at least minimize them.
Read about dads and planning for childbirth.
- Take a Childbirth Class
A childbirth class is a good place to get a look at the birth process. While you'll certainly talk about what labor is like and how he can help you, it's also a place for him to ask questions. A dad might ask questions of the childbirth educator, but he's also likely to talk to the other dads in a fairly safe environment. This male bonding is one of the big perks of a childbirth class, particularly one that meets every week.
Read about common myths about childbirth class.
- Read a Book
Reading a book is another way to hear real tales from the delivery room. Though I prefer this for learning how to help mom as opposed to reading stories.
Read about books for dads.
- Go Over the Birth Plan
Have mom specifically go over her goals and plans for labor. Having a good description of what she wants and expects to need can help dads define what they can do to help. Sometimes the fear of the unknown or of how to help can be very overwhelming, this is a good way to ensure that both mom and dad are on the same wave length.
Read about how to write a birth plan.
- Hire a Doula
A doula is someone who is largely there to help dads help moms. This is a great thing for a dad who is unsure. It gives him someone to give him guidance, but is also there if he needs to take a break. Be sure to talk to the doula about how she can best help both of you and what dad's concerns are in labor.
Read more about dads and doulas.
- Bring Snacks
If dad is worried about getting sick, maintaining a fresh supply of snacks is a great way to keep his energy up and help maintain his blood sugar. When planning for snacks think something that will sustain him and not annoy mom.
- Take Breaks in Labor
Once labor starts, dads might find themselves feeling better than expected. But if they hit a rough patch, simply take a quick break. Consider a snack at the cafeteria or a walk around the parking lot. This can help break the intensity and let them clear their heads so that they can come back with more intention.
- Watch Through a Camera
Some dads are really concerned about blood. The sight of it, the smell of it. Think about it this way - he doesn't have to see blood or the placenta. He can either stare intently at mom or avoid looking at the birth or placenta as it's happening. If he wants to watch but is a bit concerned about the blood, use a camera - even if you don't take photos. This helps to put a layer between dad and the blood, more like "blood on TV" one dad told me.
- Have an Exit Strategy
When all else fails, an exit strategy is not a bad idea. When dad has reached his limit and none of the other tricks have helped a well planned exit strategy allows him to leave without mom feeling abandoned. This should be talked about a head of time and should include support for mom, including a doula or other helpers in labor with whom she is comfortable.