Thursday, April 29, 2010

Seeking your input

I'm doing a daddy-doula "boot camp" for two couples soon to embark on their first drug-free hospital births. If you had less than two hours to teach dads how to help their wives through labor, what would you say are the best things I could teach them?

9 comments:

Tianna said...

- Know what your wife wants and why she wants it. There will probably come a time where a decision has to be made that might go against her birth plan. She might not be in the mood to make decisions. Be prepared to be the decision maker.
- Be there and be focused. There will be times when all is well and she's reading a book or something, so you can do whatever you want (read, computer, iPod, sleep, whatever) but when she needs you, throw that distraction away without a second thought. Be right next to her, holding her hand, encouraging her, and anything else she needs. This is one time that your entire focus needs to be on her.
- Bring your swimming trunks. Climbing into the tub with your wife and being her support in there can be quite soothing.
- If she's doing some sort of relaxation system (Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, etc), do it with her. Be prepared to take over for her when she can't do it by herself anymore.
- When she says, "I can't do it!" reply with, "You are doing it."
- Whisper words of peace and relaxation to her. Pour water over her belly when she's in the tub. Dim the lights. Do everything possible to bring a relaxing atmosphere in.
- Bring in a cooler of food for "you." Things like yogurt, string cheese, etc. Then when the nurse is gone, sneak some to your wife. The hospital doesn't allow your wife to eat food "just in case". If she has a long labor (which if you're going natural, you might. Btw, be sure to fight for time. Don't make your wife fight. Make sure this baby comes on his/her schedule, not the doctor's.) it's going to be draining. It's much harder to relax and push (or even stand for that matter) when you haven't had anything other than clear liquids for 24 hours.

Bridget said...

Don't be alarmed if she doesn't want her near you. I was as surprised as my husband was when I just wanted to be by myself during labor.

Fig said...

Wow. That's kind of tough. I really like Tianna's first point, because I think every woman's laboring needs are probably unique to her. I needed my husband to tell me no, basically, which I know wouldn't fly with some people.

So ... have long, extensive talks beforehand to prepare for various situations so that everybody's on the same page.

Tough love sums it up for me. Lots of love and support, but also lots of "suck it up, you can not quit".

Oh, and have drinking water handy and be prepared to get it to her when she needs it (which may be VERY frequently).

Brittany said...

My husband picked up on Ina May Gaskin's ideas really well. I showed him the video that's on youtube of her talking at the farm and I also shared some ideas from her book with him. I needed to feel loved and be told I was doing well. He also must have remembered what she says about how kissing is helpful, because he kissed me during a difficult part of my son's birth, and that meant a lot to me.

Sarah said...

The thing that I remember the most that helped me get through was being told just to focus and think about one contraction at a time. Just get through this contraction! It also helped my friend when she had her baby. I was there to help her and she said being told that she just needed to worry about one contraction at a time was what helped her focus and get through.

Carol said...

Be more confident. Discuss what your wife really wants and what to do to achieve that goal. And achieve it when they get there. Not be afriad to advocate. - My husband.

Jen said...

If possible, know what your wife knows... read the books she reads, watch the videos she watches, read the articles she reads. Know the ins and outs of WHY she wants what she wants.

For me, the best thing my husband did was whatever I told him. =) If I needed something he did it without question or even a word of discussion. Have husbands realize that it's sometimes difficult to talk during labor, and that you have to really listen because (and I sound like my mother here...) she's probably only going to be able to say something once. =)

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Cassie said...

1) positions! Though you can't guarantee what a mom's body is going to tell her to do in labor, being prepared and having knowledge of what types of positions there are puts dads at ease
2) to go off of that - fetal positioning. Ways to prevent and work with posterior babies
3) tell them to leave their sensitivity at the door - laboring women tend to forego "politeness" when requesting/demanding a need or want. Let them know its not personal, its just hard for a woman to be nice and sweet during contractions. Even the meekest women have sworn obscentities while laboring

4) the most important thing a dad can do is TRUST HIS WIFE. He should follow the cues that her body is giving her. This is vital because, usually, from 6cm and on - mom won't be able to express her needs as specifically as she can in prelabor. He may have to guess what she needs. I remember how little you spoke during your birth, after you were in the tub, so Reid and I had to follow your motions and instinct

5) lots and lots of praise! Everyone of my clients has always mentioned that words of encouragement go along way. You even mentioned it in your birth story. Sometimes a woman just needs to hear that she's strong, awesome, amazing, etc

6) teach them the signs of transition - since that is when moms usually request drugs. I like to teach the "give me one more contraction" method. Make sure mom&dad are in agreeement of how to know if she truly wants an epidural (I suggest making the woman ask 3 times in between contractions). Let them know pushing positions that work with epidurals too (sitting and side lying seem to be the ones accepted more openly by obs)

7) even if a woman doesn't want to be touched, the pure presence of a supportive ppartner makes a world of difference

8) make sure that the woman is an active participant in decision making. Dads have to be protectors in the hospital - making sure changes to the birth plan aren't being made without the mom's full consent

9) they have to be prepared for the after birth too. Make sure the cord has stopped pulsating, try to get baby breastfeeding before its cleaned or given any shots or eye ointments, make sure mom is given foods and fluids, etc

10) and remind them - all women labor differently. They just need to take it contraction by contraction. Don't think ahead - it will get overwhelming and will cause unnecessary "pressure." Stay calm and just go with the flow