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Are you an Expectant Father?

Your first wife is having her very first child-and you are nervous. You do not know what is expected of you. As it is you are feeling a little left out of the picture as your wife is the one carrying the baby and experiencing all those wonderful moments-and kicks. But she is also going through bouts of nausea and severe backaches. And now the time is almost up as you anticipate her going into labour any day now. How exciting. And how very scary. Do not worry. You are not alone. Most first-time fathers feel this way.

But on no account should you underestimate your role in labour. You will be the most important person in a sea of unfamiliar faces. Your wife will depend on you for all the moral, emotional and physical support that she can get. You should be on hand to wipe the sweat off her brow, massage her back, help her through her breathing exercises or simply hold her hand or walk around with her. But do not feel hurt if she rejects your touch at a certain stage, as she is going through a tremendous amount of pain and emotional changes. She is bound to behave in a contradictory fashion and needs all your support, encouragement and understanding. 

At times she may screech her head off, and might even curse you. In fact I know of a woman who blamed her husband for all her pain, as he was the cause of her pregnancy. She might even say that she would never have another child, but remember that these are all passing emotions and you must not hold her rude words against her. In fact you should encourage her by complimenting her courage to go through this ordeal and tell her how proud you are of her.

At other times she will need a little affection and mollycoddling and want to be touched and held. Especially between contractions. You should try to anticipate her needs and be there for her without her asking. Maybe you can give her a sip of water or suggest a change in position. You know your wife best (even though she might behave contrarily) and can help her the most. Just remember that you both want the same thing, and do not start a fight, even if she eggs you on. Most women do. You should aim to be her pillar of strength. She needs you more than she ever has or probably ever will. 

Maybe you have already discussed this day, and even decided on natural childbirth. But your wife could never have imagined the amount of pain in advance and could possibly change her mind and ask for some pain relief. Please support her decision, as she is the one going through the pain and not you. Act as a mediator or mouthpiece between her and the hospital staff so that there are no communication gaps. Your wife should be made as comfortable as she can get, and that is completely your responsibility.

A father in labour

Your role begins when your wife experiences the very first signs of labour and there is no one else around. What do you do?

  1. Calm down and make her relax.
  2. Go through the breathing routine with her, before labour begins in full swing.
  3. Do not try to anticipate what is going to happen next, as labour does not always follow the textbook. Keep an open mind, as there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way. Just take her to the hospital.
  4. At the hospital, walk around with her or let her lean on you.
  5. Be her support system and give her whatever she asks for. Even if it is to be let alone. 
  6. Breathe along with her during excessively painful contractions in case she is losing her focus. 
  7. Be a source of comfort and help her to relax. Fluff her pillows, massage her back, give her water or simply try to anticipate her needs. 
  8. Just stand by, in case she needs you. You could simply read a book, or do a crossword. Whatever helps you to relax too, as you should just be at hand. You may ask the nurse for advice or guidance as to what you should be doing.
  9. Encourage your partner. If she tells you how much it hurts, do not try to deny her pain. Instead tell her how brave you think she is. 
  10. When the doctor is examining her, do not leave the room unless she asks you to. 
  11. Be a mediator between her and the hospital staff, as she might not have the energy to ask them for what she wants. 
  12. When she starts to push, or the waterbag bursts, call the nurse immediately.

Giving birth is one of the most painful and emotional experiences that a couple can share. So do not be surprised if you find yourself disturbed or overwhelmed. Instead try to relax and enjoy it. At least you are not the one feeling the pain.

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