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Dads at birth, offering support via hypnobirthing

Dads at birth, offering support via hypnobirthing

Guest author: Dee Chadwick

Counselling and Hypnotherapy

https://deechadwick.co.uk/

My name is Dee Chadwick and I am a counsellor, life coach, hypnotherapist, hypnobirthing practitioner, and a blog writer. I am also a retired special needs advisory teacher. A range of my blogs and podcasts can be found on my website, details of which can be found above.

DADS AT BIRTH, OFFERING SUPPORT VIA HYPNOBIRTHING.

There is no right or wrong about whether dad ‘should’ be present at the birth of their child. It is down to choice – what is right for each individual couple. Having said that, since around the 1970’s the trend for dads being present gained popularity. Now, the majority of dads are present at this wonderful moment.

My own experiences!

I had always wanted my husband to be at the birth of our children, but things changed.  I think I began to realise this, when, as I was getting ready to leave for the hospital to be induced, his main concern was around what HE should wear – really?? He came, having reached his decision on whether it should be jeans, but it was an ‘occasion’, so should he wear a suit? He opted for what he described as a happy medium. Then, when I was eventually moved to the delivery room and was making use of gas and air – each time I asked for it, he either dropped it or sent the mask flying under the bed. They asked him to leave whilst they carried out an internal – I asked that we kept it that way as he was too much of a distraction.

Second time round, amazingly we had the same ‘discussion’ about his wardrobe whilst I called for my mum to catch the first and only train of the day to get to us, fed our son and arranged for a neighbour to look after him until my mum arrived. After that, he actually became rather more helpful than first time round so stayed with me.

Positive ways to supports dads

I guess that, as there were no antenatal classes available for me, let alone us, then he had an excuse – nobody had prepared him for what was ahead. This ties in with Michel Odent’s view on how the ‘wrong’ person at a birth can throw the process out of kilter as the hormone, oxytocin, essential to the smooth flowing of the process is renowned as being a shy hormone reliant on the optimal setting for mum and baby. Sadly, Michel Odent does over-generalise to men in the birthing situation in general. I strongly feel, that if right for mum and dad, if dad is aware of the processes of birth, especially through attending classes that it is a positive thing for dads to be present. 

A positive way to help dads is for them to attend hypnobirthing classes with mum. If dad decides against this or may not be around for the birth due to working away etc then a sister, mum or friend is always welcome to come along. I have run classes with grandmas to be, aunties to be attending as well as dad – they wanted to be able to help during the pregnancy as much as possible.

In one case, we even had a dog join in. I was working at the couple’s home as they had a problem with baby sitters having only just moved in to the area.  They explained that the dog would bark if they shut her out, so we agreed to keep this very active, restless dog in the room.  No problem until we came to the first relaxation. She then began jumping up onto knees, and going from mum to dad and back again. Not conducive to relaxation. I settled the humans then focused on the dog, looking directly at her as I spoke of relaxing. I was amazed when she jumped down, sat at my feet and rested her head on my lap, focusing on my face. When I brought mum and dad out of hypnosis, they were amazed to see her still sitting like this. Every following relaxation, as soon as I began, she took up her position!

Generally, it is just individual mums and dads. I have worked with well over a hundred couples and in each case, dads have benefitted just as much as mums. I have only had one dad who didn’t fully participate – and that was only in the ‘hypno’ bit.  Because of his career, he was not allowed to go into hypnosis. He wanted to remain in the room so I gave him my iPod whilst we relaxed.  He watched what was happening and his only negative comment was on my taste in music!! He brought his own for subsequent classes.

When dad has worked away, we have included him via Skype. Difficult for him to practise the massage via electronic means, but at least he could see the demonstration and we did add in an additional class shortly before the birth when he was back in UK.

It is often the case that dads will say that they have ‘come to support their wife/partner’ but go on to really look forward to the relaxation, to be confident to read scripts themselves, and to come back for personal, non-birth related work later.

So what do dads gain from hypnobirthing?

So what do dads gain from hypnobirthing classes – apart from the relaxation?

I quote one dad –

For the birth of our first son, I felt like a spare part.  I just sat there with things happening around me. Did go to classes at the hospital before but didn’t feel they helped much – but did know what the unit looked like! The hypnobirthing classes – different kettle of fish. I had things I could do to help – play stuff, read out scripts, massage and encourage! I was confident – and not just ‘cos was number 2. I knew what was going on and had confidence to ask questions and ask if there was a medical reason when they suggested things. It was ‘our’ birth, not me watching my wife give birth like a plonker.’

This dad’s feelings reflect those of the dads who do my classes – they feel that they are fully a part of the birth rather than being apart from it! They are confident.

Oscar, proud father of Noah and Nia says ‘With the help of Dee’s sessions I felt more relaxed and equipped with tools how to support my girl with giving birth to our babies. I also felt reassured through our sessions with Dee that a home birth with birthing pool was the right thing to do for us. If you want a natural, more relaxed birth I would highly recommend the sessions with Dee.’

 

They had things that they could support with – they don’t have to read scripts if they don’t want to. They have the choice and will have had time to try doing this at home. I haven’t yet met a mum who doesn’t like the massage we use – including some Indian Head Massage techniques – and practising during the pregnancy means that dads know just what pressure to use, which bits mum prefers etc – and has got used to checking on this, as it may change during the birth.

Importantly, dads are aware of the stages of labour, are able to remind mum that the contractions (or, as hypnobirthers call them, surges) wax and wane and how best to support them being as effective as possible.  Reminding of breathing and supporting with relaxation throughout, providing sips of water, nibbles of food to maintain hydration and energy levels, as well as loo visits to both empty the bladder and encourage a change of position and movement.

As well as having a greater understanding of how the process of birth generally progresses, they understand that they CAN support mum and encourage her through this. They understand that soft words of encouragement can mean a lot – but sometimes, silence IS golden depending on the stage of labour. Birth is NOT as in the Sit Coms or films where dramatics predominate.  It doesn’t have to be like ‘One Born Every Minute’ where dads are often presented as sitting helplessly biding their time until baby appears usually amongst repeated shouts of push, push, push. There have been a couple of hypnobirths on here, but sadly, according to the mums, they only showed the couple of times when they lost confidence, most of the relaxed scenes with mum in control being supported by dad who was very much an active participant, ending up on the cutting room floor!

If the birth stalls, they have the confidence to check if intervention is medically called for if/when it is suggested. If there is no indication that the suggestion of intervention is led by medical reasons, they have the confidence to request being given, NOT ALLOWED, more time. It is your birth, you have the choices and unless what you are requesting is against all hospital policy or endangering your baby or your partner, you should be afforded the courtesy of birthing your baby at a speed that is right for him/her.

This speed may be slow. If mums are using hypnosis, time for them could well be moving apparently more quickly than for dads – especially as I will have put this suggestion into more than one of the relaxations in class. I always suggest that if mum is resting, then dad should rest too or have a (quiet) diversion available. As throughout the birth, take your cue from mum, and try to do this without asking too many questions. She will let you know if you have got it wrong!

Feedback

I always ask that mums or dads let me know when their baby arrives – I do get clucky. I was surprised to get a call from a dad to let me know that his son had been born – great, but his opening comment had me worried – ‘I’ve gone right off you’ he began, but then burst out laughing (phew). He said – ‘you know how you told me to hand out a copy of hypnobirthing information and birth preferences to anyone new coming in to the room? – Well, a lady came in who I hadn’t seen before, so I offered her the paperwork. She thanked me, but pointed out that she had only come in to collect the empty coffee cups!!’

Something else we include besides making sure that everyone understands that hypnobirthing is being used is the importance of bonding. It is not only important for mum and baby to bond as soon as possible after birth, but also dads. Just as skin to skin is recommended for mums, so it is for dads – shirts/tee shirts off guys – or at the very least, push those sleeves right up. It is as important for your baby to become familiar with your scents as it is for them to do with mum’s. Should mum require any attention, settle back in a chair with your new-born. Put a soft, warm cover across you both and cuddle and chat. Enjoy these precious moments of bonding with your son or daughter. Your baby will recognise your voice as well as mum’s so re-inforce that link made before birth, and strengthen it.

PS – Don’t forget to have your bag packed and ready to go for the birth too, Nibbles, recharger for phones, tablets etc as well as the usual essentials.

Do check out my Facebook page for information about my Hypnobirthing classes – Hypnobirthing with Dee Chadwick. Or click through to my website – www.deechadwick.co.uk.  I am always happy to meet for an informal chat so that both mum and dad can ask me questions about the classes.

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