Being Dad

The Fantastic Five – Tips for Childbirth

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Author and midwife Mark Harris shares five tips that – as he says – “your pregnant lover really wants you to read.”

Pregnancy and childbirth can be an intimidating, or simply confusing, time for dads. Your pregnant partner has probably been sat at home amongst mountains of pregnancy and childbirth books since the moment she found out, but you may have struggled.

Either there aren’t any books you can find, or the ones available just aren’t something you can relate to – that’s where Mark Harris comes in. A male midwife since 1994, he draws on years of experience helping couples through the exciting (and sometimes scary) experience of becoming new parents.

From your partner’s perspective, it’s so important that you do have enough knowledge to feel comfortable and to reassure her – both in labour and throughout the pregnancy. Changes in her body, hormones and priorities can leave her feeling vulnerable, and the trick is often remembering that you’re not just parents-to-be, but also lovers and partners in your own right.

Refreshingly, you’ll find no pink and fluffy jumper feel to Mark’s advice. He is a bloke talking to blokes, and that’s why these tips really work:

1. Become friends with the hormone oxytocin.
‘Female orgasm and birth are ONE event separated by time’. Her freedom to create abundant oxytocin is a major key to birth working well. Think about the environment, ‘inside and out’, that she needs if she is going to feel relaxed enough to ‘allow’ herself to experience a body shaking climax. Your answer to this question will help you when thinking about where you both want her to be when she gives birth. Find out more about the importance of the hormone oxytocin and its role in a woman’s sexual orgasm and the birth of your child.

2. Listen.
Until she has finished talking when she talks about anything, but particularly the upcoming birth. Listen with a sensitive ear to anything she is afraid of in the context of giving birth.

3. Research the information you need to ‘understand’ her fears.
Don’t tell her what conclusions you have come to, just offer her your understanding from your study and give her space to come to her own conclusions.

4. Pick an area of housework that needs doing often, and do it.
Without being asked or looking for praise, this kind of stuff will almost certainly raise her oxytocin levels. If you think she hasn’t seen what you’ve done, you are probably wrong. Do it and watch.childbirth

5. When she is going into ‘labour’, focus your attention on being closely connected to her. Let’s be honest now, you know when you are doing well at this! Resist the temptation to get lost in the stuff that is happening around you. Your goal is challenging but simple – connect with her. If you sense the connection isn’t strong, do what it takes to get it back.

Men, Love & Birth by Mark Harris is published by Pinter & Martin: £9.99.