Some of you may wonder or even cringe at the heading above. This is because when you think of labour, you probably think of your wife in pain, lying on a bed in a hospital room with white walls surrounded by doctors and other hospital staff, shuttling in and out of the room.
You can’t be blamed for that image. It is what you have been made to believe through years of listening to stories and watching television and movies with their versions of it. So where do you fit in that story? How can you provide any support other than sitting on a bench outside of the room and waiting for the cry of the baby?
The reality is quite different than your mental image. The reality is that not only do you have a role, you have the most important role to play while your wife braves through labour.
To put things in perspective, first, let us understand that ‘labour’ is not an illness or medical condition, which needs to be dealt with medically, or only by doctors, nurses or other care providers. Labour is a natural process of the mother’s body, at the end of which, she gives birth to her baby. So, if you are aware and informed about what all it involves.. you are in fact, the best person for her to have around while she labours.
But how can you achieve that?
Attending childbirth education classes with your wife, could be the best way to make sure that you keep yourself abreast with all that is happening and is going to happen with her during her pregnancy and even after it. Learning all that she needs to do and be mindful of during labour, would not only put you at ease by knowing what to expect, it will also ensure that if and when she forgets certain things due to the pain, you are there to hold her hand and remind her and make sure that you make the journey as smooth for her as you can. Not only that. Having other fathers around gives you the opportunity to share your fears and apprehensions along with your happiness and joy with people who are exactly in your position to understand them, and so make your entire experience even more enriching.
Above all, while your wife bonds with your baby naturally by carrying and later breastfeeding him/her… you get the opportunity to do so by being around your baby and making him/her aware of your voice and presence by being with the mother every step of the way. What’s more is that it is an evidence based fact that more mothers who have a continuous support during labour, go on to have a normal delivery as opposed to the ones toiling through it by themselves.
So, fathers.. while physically, it is your wife who is ‘pregnant’, in every other way, the both of you are in this together and no other experience in your life can be more fulfilling if you prepare for it!