While watching some shows on huluplus, I noticed this commercial being used every commercial break. Since my focus is often on carseats, the first timeI noticed I thought, “oh, good, some ok carseat use in a commercial” (not fabulous in the snug harness department- but pretty good). The next time I saw it I saw that this commercial does a horrible thing to fathers. The job of the dad does not begin in the car. Unless, of course, that is where he conceived the baby! wink wink.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this father get neglected and pushed into the background during his baby’s birth and first days in the hospital- here you go.
So Dads, this is for you.
Dad, your fatherhood does not start with buckling your baby into the car. Not only should you be there with your wife every step of the way through her pregnancy and birth- it’s your JOB and your right to be there.
So here is my tips for Dads, who I know often get pushed into the background during birth and are an afterthought to the hospital staff during your baby’s arrival.
1- Talk to your spouse/ baby mama
Let her know that you want to be involved in the birth process. Yes, birth is very mom and baby focused. After all, it is very physically demanding on both of them, but you exist in this process too and deserve to be recognized. You may not even be sure what that means yet for you to be involved in the birth but that is ok and exactly why you need to speak to the pregnant mama of your baby and figure out how you two want to bring this baby into the world and how you can be part of this journey with her.
2- Go to some prenatal appointments
I get you may not be able to be there every 4 weeks but try to make a range. An early on appointment in the first trimester to hear that heartbeat and initially meet the OB/MW. If you have questions, ask them. Don’t sit back in the corner and try to make yourself invisible. Be there and present and an active part of the discussion with mom and doctor. Also, try to make a 2nd tri appointment and a end of pregnancy appointment. You’d be surprised how different each appointment is and how different stages of pregnancy can really bring up different topics in the doctors office. Also, putting yourself out there and being involved in this way shows the staff that you are that dad who wants to be involved and active with your wife and her birth.
3- Be in the birth plan
Make sure you and your role in the birth are a topic in your baby mama’s birth plan! It should state that YOU are her support person and who she wants with her and near her while going through whatever her birth may bring.
4- Consider getting a doula
I know men often get skeptical about the role of the doula and fear that she will be replacing him but that simply is not what she does. She will help make sure that you do not get shoved into the background. If your wife is going through a rough moment in her birth and you freeze up or are not sure what to do, she will suggest some ways that you can be there and help her through. Also, her presence will allow you to use the bathroom from time to time without leaving laboring mom alone.
5- Speak up!
Unless the baby has some immediate NICU needs, do not let the hospital staff bully you into feeling like your baby is not your baby. You do not need to prove anything to them. You do not need to wait until an official release. Your baby is yours, not the nursery staff’s baby. And trust me, they sometimes like to make parents feel like they have no rights over their own baby, but you do! Tell them, you want your baby. Tell them, you insist on staying with your baby at all times or that you will be holding and helping mom with baby during the night. You are that baby’sfather and fatherhood does not wait until you leave the hospital. You are the father IN the hospital too and if you aren’t being recognized as your baby’s dad, you need to speak up.
6. Believe in yourself
TV shows and general cultural perspective may have you believing that you are the second class parent or not as intelligent or don’t have the parental instincts you need to raise a kid. Those are lies. I know you probably weren’t given as many baby dolls to practice on as a child as your female counterpart but trust yourself. You can hold your baby and rock your baby and play with your baby and soothe your baby when they cry. Believe in yourself that you are a great father and practice great fatherhood through the entire pregnancy by being a caring and involved husband (or boyfriend/partner) to your baby mama. 🙂
You are dad!
Thank you to all the amazing Dads who allowed me to use their photos.
If you are hoping to some day have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) here are some tips from a mom who has been there and had two successful VBACs
1) Find Provider who really believes in VBAC
Do not just go to a doctor (or midwife) who “is nice” or already has your records or is closest to your home. Sometimes, having a VBAC is not convenient. Sometimes we have to go out of our way and research birth providers and hospitals and homebirth midwives. We have to schedule consult appointments and bring long lists of interview questions. We have to not just hear his answers to our VBAC questions but read the look in his eyes while he answers and read between the lines of what he is saying. Find someone who does not just allow VBAC or will permit you a “trial of labor” but who says “YES! We believe in VBAC! We love VBACs. We have excellent VBAC stats- here, let me show you just how great our VBAC success is…..”. Also, the hospital they deliver at, if it is a hospital delivery, should reflect that they have good VBAC stats too. If they have a high Cesarean Rate, question that. Is it because there’s a large high risk practice delivering there? ect..
2) Read Positive VBAC Stories
Read Read and Read some more about other moms who have had VBACs. Read positive hospital VBAC stories, birth center stories, and HBAC (homebirth after cesarean) stories. Wash your mind in positive experiences of others. Take mental notes on what helped each mom, what didn’t help them, what made her birth a success. Anytime fear or thoughts of failure come into your mind, pull out those awesome success stories and go over your positive birth affirmations. Believe in yourself. Believe in your body. Trust your body and your baby that as a team- you can healthily, and awesomely deliver vaginally.
3) Get a Doula
Times this by a thousand if planning a hospital birth. She is worth the price to have on your side. A doula is someone who will stand by you and remind you that you CAN do this. She knows how to set the mood, where to add pressure to relieve your pain, what words to speak to keep your motivation up and, though she cannot make any medical decisions for you, she can make sure you are hearing and understanding the situation before you agree to any changes in your birth plan. Though many of you will have your spouse with you, it is still a great benefit to have a doula. A spouse can often get overwhelmed by the experience (remember, they are going through this birth with you) and a doula can be there to support you both as you go through this together. Also, mom can know there is someone with her when her spouse goes to the restroom or runs for some coffee or dozes off during a resting period. She is never left alone, which, when we read stories from others, is often when a mom gets pressured by a nurse/OB/midwife into changing from her plan.
4) Stay Clear of Interventions & Restrictions
In most cases, interventions like inductions, epidurals, not being allowed mobility are huge factors keeping a mom from having a successful VBAC. Get in the mindset of having a natural birth from naturally start of labor to drug-free, to being permitted to move about, get in a tub or shower, ect. The less restrictive the labor process is, the better the chances are that a VBAC will be successful. There are always those stories and times where moms do have interference and still have a successful VBAC (my first VBAC, for instance, ended in an epidural and it was still a successful VBAC) but for the most part, any step up in medicalizing the birth is a step down in success rates for both non-VBAC and VBAC moms when striving for vaginal births.
5) Take a Class
Take a non-hospital birthing class. There are tons of great options from Lamaze, to The Bradley Method, to Hypnobabies. Research the different classes and see which one sounds like the best fit for you and take the course. Birthing Classes like these help give you methods for managing labor pain, give you the info on what to expect, and help instill confidence. These are invaluable for any mom, but especially for the VBAC hopeful mother.
6) Love Yourself
No matter what happens or how your last birth was or how your next birth ends, love yourself. You are not a failure. Your body is not broken. You are an amazing mother and had a beautiful baby. Whether that baby leaves your body vaginally or surgically, hold him or her to yourself and let yourself feel loved. Your baby adores you no matter how your birth was and you deserve to feel and know that. I know how heartbreaking it can be to not have *that* birth experience. That one you dream of. That birth you read about on other blogs and see in documentaries. You are a great mother, though and as long as your do everything you can, know that you have done the best with what you have been given and that is all you can ask for from yourself.
I believe in you. I believe in your body and I believe that you CAN and WILL get your VBAC if you want it. You’ve got this. Your body knows what to do. Your baby is fantastic. You’ve done your homework and you are ready. Trust yourself.