A Husband's Role During Pregnancy & Childbirth

Giuditta Tornetta

In the seventies, a partner's role in the birthing and pregnancy process was finally brought to where it belonged: next to the mother. With the advent of the Bradley birthing methods, fathers were finally given something important to do. They became "coaches" for the birthing event, and their need to be needed was fulfilled.

Yet, the nine long months ahead of the "world series" game is a difficult and vague time for the men in our lives. Men really have no concept of how we feel physically and emotionally during this time, so they need our help and direction to create a safe and friendly environment for the mother-to-be and the child. They need to feel part of this miraculous process to establish a relationship with the unborn child early on.

Often feelings of fear, worry, and anxiety are common for most new fathers. We need to entitle our men to their feelings. Asking your partner how he would like to be involved at this point might end up backfiring. Most men's answer to a direct question like this one will say, "I don't know! What would you like me to do?"

This can only create frustration for both of you, and there is no need for that. One thing I have learned through the years is that if you don't ask for what you want and need, you probably will not get it. Stop thinking he is psychic. Stop thinking "If he loves me he'll know what I really need and want."

Know that what you want or need has nothing to do with his love for you. His giving what you want and need, or telling you honestly what he can and cannot give is no measure of his love.

Find outside support
One person alone cannot, and never will be able to, give me all that I need. A famous African adagio says, "It takes a village to raise a child," and I believe it takes a village to accompany any of us through our lives.

Your partner cannot be the only source of your fulfillment; you must create a support group especially in this miraculous time. Find friends who are willing to listen, find other mothers-to-be (your healthcare provider, your doula can help you with this one), and find chat rooms and web sites to answer your questions. Enroll in prenatal yoga or exercise classes.

Find a therapist if you feel the need to work on some of the tough issues that are coming up. Your insurance might cover a few sessions. No matter where and what you must rely on, multiple sources of support await your asking.

Yes, it is your time to get pampered, dear one, but remember that men also go through incredible changes during this time. They might not be hormonal, nor will they show up physically, but having a child is an emotional, mental and spiritual event for both of you. Acknowledge the little and big things he does for you. Tell him how to be useful, welcome him in your arms as often as you can, and remind him why you love him and why you think he will make a great father. This is such a magical time for both of you, cherish it. Every moment counts!

Love tips
# The best way to get your needs met is meeting your partner's needs. This is the concept of unconditional love. You receive what you give. And if you really want something from your partner ask and be specific.

# When you have something important to talk about, ask for a quiet and convenient time for both of you. Most anything can wait, if you overwhelm your partner with questions or an "important" subject the minute they enter the home you might not get the results you are looking for. I know it sounds ridiculous at first, but making an appointment to discuss what is in your mind will give both of you time to relax first and settle in.

# Tell your partner how special he/she is -- often. We are so quick to criticize and slow to praise.

# Don't improvise when it comes to your partnership. Most relationships need a little work. Together, attend workshops, see a couple therapist, or read books on enriching your relationships.

# Spend time thinking about all things you love about your partner and be grateful for each and every one of them.

# When you are upset about something, stop, sit down and write down what (WHAT not who) made you upset and see if you can find your part in it. It takes two to tango. Knowing your part will make your anger be balanced.

# Have you ever thought about what is it like to be in a relationship with you? What would you like more or less from this relationship?

# Keep romance and passion alive!

* Surprise him/her with tickets to his/her favorite event
* Take the car to be washed
* Have breakfast for him/her when they wake up
* Give her/him a back rub -- foot rub etc.
* Plan a picnic at the park
* Leave a love note
* Bring flowers home
* Sing her her favorite song or play it and ask her to dance with you
* Look at each other while you kiss or make love
* Tell her/him you love her in ten different ways -- get creative
* Get involved in the pregnancy from the beginning
* Take her to as many Doctor's appointments as you can
* Make time to discuss the future of your baby
* Make time to discuss the birthing experience you both want

# Stay close through crisis. Hormones run wild in these times, understand tears, moods and tensions, stay close and at times just listen.

# Don't EVER criticize yours mate's body!

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