I'm going to preface this blog post by saying that partners aren't always or cannot always be involved in your baby's birth; for many reasons. AND THAT IS OKAY! However, if you're planning on having dad involved in your labor, read on my friend!
So often when we talk about childbirth education we talk about what you, mom, need to get out of the class. We talk about your unique needs, your fears, your desires. But we forget that there is often an equal, and just as valuable part, to this equation. Your partner; your baby's father. He also comes with his own fears, needs, and desires and ultimately, his behavior and feelings can have a significant outcome on your labor. Not to mention that he has a significant role to play after your baby arrives!
So why would you attend a childbirth class that didn't teach you both equally?
There are some amazing benefits to attending a childbirth class that dedicates significant time to dad as well as mom:
1. Men tend to not be as open or connected to their feelings as much as women are. A childbirth class and open discussion can help your partner uncover their fears, wants, and other feelings they may be experiencing or anticipate experiencing during this journey. They can also discover that other men in the class are experiencing some of the same feelings as them. My husband, for instance, had a great deal of fear about how to help me while I was experiencing labor pain. When he shared this fear with the rest of our class he was greeted with 5 other father's who also felt this way. They were able to openly discuss this fear together and the teacher was able to address these feelings with the class.
2. Your partner can learn how important they are to the labor process. The evidence is very clear, continuous support is highly correlated to spontaneous labor, medication-free birth, lower cesarean rates, and higher Apgar scores. However, what continuous support looks like to you and to him can be very different. A childbirth class can help you and your partner uncover what continuous support looks and feels like for you so he can practice and be prepared for how to best support you on your baby's birth day.
3. He can trust that he is enough. Partners can sometimes feel helpless during birth. They see the person they love going through a painful situation that they cannot stop. Men are fixers by nature but labor is something they cannot fix, control, or save you from. In a childbirth class, he can learn how to best support you through your labor so he doesn't feel so helpless. He can also learn how to read your body and behavior to know that what he is doing to help is working. This can alleviate a great deal of anxiety and keep labor moving along smoothly.
4. Labor can bring you and him closer together. The birth of a baby is a life-altering experience that you two can either experience together or separately. When a childbirth teacher treats you and your partner as a team, you are being set up to journey into your birth with formed trust, understanding, and empathy for each other. The trusting bond you'll form with each other will carry you through your birth and into parenthood and make you a stronger team as new parents.
5. The most important reason: your partner doesn't become a dad when your baby arrives just as you don't become a mom on that day either. You two are already parents. You are already caring for your unborn baby by researching the best car seats, eating healthy meals, setting up college savings accounts, and making decisions about how you want to give birth. Your partner will be a dad during birth too. He has an opportunity to help shepherd his baby through labor and play a role in keeping you and your baby calm and safe through the process. If he is committed to being a dad then part of being one is being present and attentive during the birth of his son or daughter.
Childbirth is a beautiful time for both you and your partner. Use it as a time to bond and set the precedent for the type of parents you hope to be. Allow the experience to signify equal importance in each others' lives so it becomes a memory for you two to share, not to remember separately.