Pre-natal classes focus on the mother. She is the one who is giving birth to new life. However, I found that I had a special experience during the birthing of my children. Here are things that pre-natal Dad’s can look forward to during childbirth.
It was during a class on pre-natal yoga for mummy-to-be that it hit me. Here we are all focused on making sure Mum was fit and ready for the experience. Yoga or aqua-fit classes help physically prepare her body for the experience. Other classes increase her awareness of the birthing process and how she can deal with the pain and medical options. Pre-Mums get together in a nurturing community all sharing in this common experience.
The Dads are anxious too and want to get involved. Half that baby is made up of their DNA after all. Pre-natal classes usually deal with pre-Dad in a supportive role to pre-Mum. I remember learning to help her breath and massage her when needed. I was her attendant while the nursing staff buzzed around doing their thing. I learned to be her coach.
We practiced breathing together and prepared our bags for our trip to the hospital. We had already planned what we wanted. I was to be the guardian of our values. My Sweetheart did not want any medical intervention unless the baby’s health was at risk. So I resisted the nurses insistence on moving to the delivery room. I kept her hydrated and walking.
Transition is when the mother is ready to push the baby out. The mother is in full primal glory giving birth. With each child, I knew when she was ready. I was slapped in the face and told to stop breathing on her. “Doctor, I think we are ready!” I’d call out.
When I look back now, I realize that I experienced my own wonder moments during my children’s births. Moments that are only experienced as a Dad. Moments that no one tells you to look for. Well, pre-Dads, here they are – those precious moments that I found made my childbirth experience memorable.
Crowning of the baby’s head. Pre-Mums know they have a life inside them. They commune with baby continually for nine months. Pre-Dads are observers on the outside trusting that it is there. Today’s ultrasound technology allows you to see it – which makes it more real. However, the crowning of the baby’s head is the first look at what has been, until now, hidden. A Dad sees it first.
Pinking Up. The first breath of life is a miracle. To see your baby take its first gulp of air. You see it transform in the gasp of an instant from blueish to pink. To me, that is when my baby became alive as an independent human being. Because the gasp comes just before the next miracle – your baby’s cry. A cry you will recognize among a sea of other cries for as long as you will live.
Confirming the sex and calling your baby. After my baby cried, I confirmed the sex of our child and called out its name to my Sweetheart. Ultrasound technology infers what the sex will be – but looking down at your baby and calling its name is a sweetness beyond measure.
Placenta and afterbirth. This is the part of pre-natal class that gets glossed over. It’s because the birth has happened and everything else is secondary. Once the umbilical cord is cut, it is gently pulled by the attending physician. And then out plops this massive amount of tissue – called the placenta – into a bowl. I was stunned by how large it was. Yet another miracle – the design of bringing a few cells to childbirth is amazing. Finally, the pressing of the mother’s tummy to expel blood clots was also not explained well in class. Sweetheart says it was worse than childbirth pain – so be ready to support her in that.
Once your child is cleaned up, you share the first family cuddle. Your child is forever imprinting your face in their memory and is saying “Are you my Daddy?”. That first look is also forever imprinted in my memory as I lovingly felt in my heart, “You are my child.”