Are you about to become a father for the first time? Here’s the second post in our three-part survival guide for fathers-to-be and the best tips for new dads on pregnancy, birth and newborn babies.
We have looked at the best tips for dads-to-be on pregnancy, so this post features tips for the run-up to labour, and during childbirth.
Make sure you also read our tips for dads on new fatherhood
Preparing For Childbirth: Writing The Birth Plan
The birth plan is a written plan of what you would like to happen during and after childbirth, where you note down preferences for delivery. While ultimately it is the woman’s choice about what she wants to happen during labour, it’s helpful for the partner to be involved in writing the plan so you’re aware of what she wants and can advocate for her while she’s giving birth.
You will usually be invited to a midwife appointment in the third trimester so you can discuss plans together, and the midwife can make sure you know what to expect when your partner gives birth.
Getting Ready For Childbirth: Visiting The Hospital
If your partner is planning on giving birth in a hospital, it’s a good idea to go on a tour to see what it’s like and so you’ll be familiar with it when the time comes, and actually know where you need to go. Most hospitals will offer a guided tour at least once a month, where you will be shown the wards and a labour room.
Plan how you are going to get to the hospital and even take a test drive to check you will be OK if there is traffic or road closures.
Packing The Hospital Bag And A Birth Bag For Dad
If your partner is planning on giving birth in a hospital or birth centre, then you will need to pack a hospital bag ahead of time; most people do this during the third trimester. The hospital bag should contain everything your partner will need for during labour and after, and things for the baby too, including clothes and nappies. It can help to pack a birth bag for dad, containing a change of clothes anything you might need for when your partner goes into labour. Pack enough snacks and drinks for both you and your partner, bearing in mind childbirth might take longer than you think. Make sure you pack the all-important phone charger and remember to pack the midwife notes on top just before you leave for the hospital.
Write Down a Phone List
Decide who you will tell as soon as the baby is born. List out everyone you are going to contact with the news immediately, as in all the excitement of the baby arriving it is easy to forget.
Be Prepared For Labour To Be Unpredictable
Birth doesn’t always go to plan, and it might not turn out how you’ve planned on your birth plan. Labour can be quick; it can also be incredibly slow. Your partner might end up having interventions or a c-section delivery. Prepare yourself to expect that it might not go as expected.
While it might be distressing to watch your partner in pain, or make you feel helpless if it’s not going to plan, the most important thing is to stay calm and be calm and reassuring for your partner. It might help if you research some birth affirmations for dads, to keep yourself and your partner positive.
Decide Who Is Going To Cut the Cord
Cutting the baby’s umbilical cord can be a magical experience, and one you will always remember, so let the midwife know if it is something you want to do.
Have Skin-To-Skin Contact When The Baby Is Born
Skin-To-Skin contact is essentially just that; the newborn baby having contact with your skin. There are many benefits of this from both parents, so make sure you have some time, as well as the baby’s mother. Skin-to-skin contact will give warmth and comfort to a newborn, and help you bond quickly with the new baby.
Find Out If Dads Can Stay In Hospital After The Birth
You will probably be wondering if dads can stay at the hospital after the baby arrives. This depends on the hospital, as at present there is no overall policy. If you can stay, you will probably sleep on a chair or a mat on the floor be (be warned, it probably won’t be comfortable!)
Make sure you also read our post on breastfeeding support for new mums