Midwifery tips for fathers

How men can support their partner: Tips for pregnancy, birth & postpartum

What the midwife advises: Practical tips for expectant fathers

Pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium are decisive experiences in a woman's life. But it is also a particularly intense time for fathers-to-be. How do fathers-to-be prepare for the birth? How can men support their partners and what role do they play during and after the birth? Midwife Sabrina Tilly reports on her experiences and gives practical tips for fathers.

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Midwives are not just there to help women with advice and support during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. She is also an important contact for fathers. Sabrina Tilly, a self-employed midwife in Bielefeld and the surrounding area, has found in her preparation courses that some fathers-to-be still think that the preparation course is a "pure bawling course" at the beginning. After attending, however, the men see things differently: "The fathers-to-be are usually positively surprised and thank us for all the information."

Guidance and exchange in the birth preparation course

Sabrina Tilly's preparation courses are particularly popular, with five dates for women only and two dates together with the partners. At the joint meetings, topics that are important for the men are discussed. Fathers-to-be are often reluctant to ask questions at first. However, this usually changes quickly.

"The men are initially more interested in 'technical' things: What complications can occur? How likely is that?" says Sabrina Tilly from her many years of experience and adds with a smile: "I always find it interesting that the topic of 'carrying systems' in particular is very popular with men." The midwife is always surprised that the fathers-to-be usually start talking to each other after the first lesson. This often takes longer for women. Sabrina Tilly also finds it very positive that the fathers-to-be are interested in what happens in their partner's body during pregnancy - and that many men accompany their partners to the preliminary examinations.

Many questions after the birth

Once the baby has arrived, questions from new fathers often revolve around whether the newborn's weight is correct and whether it is drinking enough. After all, they can't immediately see how much the baby is eating while breastfeeding. They also have questions about how to bathe the baby properly, how to heal the navel, how to treat a sore bottom or about baby swimming courses. More and more fathers are also interested in baby massage: "This is something that fathers like to do. It allows them to spend quality time with their child."

Practical tips for fathers: what the midwife advises

And now let's get specific: as a dad-to-be, how can you actively support your partner during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period? Sabrina Tilly has practical tips for (expectant) fathers:

During pregnancy

  • Household:
    As a rule, a couple shares the household chores, but during pregnancy you should relieve your partner more.
  • Pre-cooking:
    To avoid spending too much time in the kitchen after the birth, it makes sense to cook ahead and freeze the food in portions.
  • Pack your bag:
    As an expectant father, you should also have a bag with a change of clothes to hand, as the birth can start at any time. This will help you avoid having to stand in the delivery room for hours in your work clothes. What you should also include in your bag: something to read and - most importantly - nourishment for your nerves!

During the birth

  • Attendance in the delivery room is not a MUST!
    Not every man wants to be there and not every woman wants her partner to be there. Talk openly with your partner about this in advance.
  • Emergency support:
    It makes sense to appoint a trusted person before the birth. This person can relieve you if you realize in the delivery room that you are not up to the situation. The emergency helper can also be a contact person for you if you need to talk after the birth in order to process the experience.
  • Where you are in the delivery room:
    Discuss with your partner where you should and want to be during the birth - at the woman's head or do you want to see when the baby's head emerges?
  • Women's privacy:
    Your partner can easily feel exposed to this extreme situation. Make sure that she is covered up according to the situation.
  • Support:
    Talk to your partner about how you can best support her. The needs can be very individual, some women like to be supported with their breathing, massaged or helped to get into a different birthing position.
  • Don't take everything seriously:
    There is a "transition phase" during childbirth in which many women giving birth are very impulsive and "not quite so friendly". You should not take this personally. Many women are also very sensitive to smells during childbirth. Smokers should therefore have chewing gum to hand.

In the puerperium:

  • Rest for the partner:
    Even if the mother feels fit shortly after the birth, it is important to rest. You should take charge of your child whenever possible.
  • Household help:
    If you are unable to take leave, it makes sense to think about hiring household help to support you in the household in the first few weeks after the birth. This could be your parents or parents-in-law, for example.
  • Eating and drinking behavior:
    It is important to make sure that your partner is drinking and eating enough. Women who are breastfeeding often forget to eat and drink themselves.
  • Avoid heavy lifting:
    Women who have had a caesarean section should not lift anything heavier than a baby in the first few weeks.
  • Arrange visits:
    Everyone wants to see their offspring. However, two visits a day is the maximum so that mother and child have enough time to rest.
  • A good idea:
    Visitors can bring breakfast or cake in the afternoon - this saves you some preparation.
  • Women and men often change diapers differently:
    Therefore, wind independently of each other to avoid discussions.
  • Depression:
    If you notice any unusual behavior on the part of your partner, such as a persistent sad mood, inform the midwife. She knows what to do and can help you.

A final tip:

Sabrina Tilly advises you to stay calm - even in hectic situations. Try to get plenty of sleep before the birth to be fit for the big event. "Of course, it is also very important to inform yourself in advance. Women are happy when their partner deals with the topic intensively!"

Where can we find help and advice?

If you have any questions, don't be afraid to speak openly with your midwife and ask any questions that are on your mind.

Answers to questions about becoming a father can be found on the portal www.familienplanung.de of the Federal Center for Health Education.

On the Familienportal.NRW you will find further helpful information and checklists on the topics of pregnancy and birth

Brochures Download

The brochure "Ich bin dabei! - Become a father" with practical tips can be ordered or downloaded from the portal of the Federal Center for Health Education.

The brochure "Mann wird Vater - Informationen für werdende Väter zur Geburt" provides information on preparing for the birth, the birth process and the first important days in the puerperium.