• Labor and Childbirth: A Quick Guide for Dads
  • Photo from elcrema.com

    When Nonoy Floresca’s wife Ruth was about to give birth to their second child, Nonoy tried his best not to worry and show anxiety. But the truth was, he couldn’t relax, more so when Ruth started shouting at the top of her lungs in the labor room during contractions. “I cupped a hand over her mouth. She was shouting so loud, I was worried that her OB-gyne would see that she’s in pain and make her undergo Caesarean delivery, something we were not prepared for,” Nonoy shares. However, the doctor told him that his wife should be free to release her emotions, and if it’s by shouting, then she should be allowed to shout with all her might.

    Dabs Liban, on the other hand, kept his composure all throughout his wife Yolanda’s 15-hour labor. Having attended birth preparation classes, the Libans were very much prepared for the delivery, and went for natural childbirth. “We were very confident. We prayed together. We knew what to do. I was coaching her to breathe and push,” Dabs says. The doctors and nurses were so amazed at the Libans that they gave the couple the Best Natural Childbirth Award at St. Luke’s Medical Center that year.

    Daddy's role
    According to Shierly May Dy-Del Rosario, M.D., an OB-gyne perinatologist at Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center and Capitol Medical Center, having Dad around during labor and delivery gives Mom “a whole lot of morale boost! Mom feels she is not alone in this ‘journey.’ With Dad vicariously feeling the pain of labor and delivery, Mom is appreciated in a whole new and beautiful way. As a result, love and respect for each other is strengthened.”  

    Unlike Nonoy and Dabs, though, not all dads are given the privilege to be inside the labor and delivery room when their wives give birth. Hospitals have different policies regarding this matter. Dads who have attended Lamaze lessons with their wives are allowed to go in, and so are dads who are medical doctors. Not everyone is allowed inside for privacy reasons, says Dy-Del Rosario.

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    But whether or not Dad gets to be with Mom in the labor and delivery room, Dad has a crucial role in the whole labor and delivery process -- that of providing the much-needed emotional support. In this sense, fathers are very much a part of the whole process of giving birth.

    During labor and delivery
    Dy-Del Rosario shares some practical tips for new dads who are allowed to be inside the labor and delivery room:

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    1. Be calmer than your wife.
    If both husband and wife panic, “walang mangyayari,” says Dy-Del Rosario.

    2. Apply what you have learned.
    Coach your wife to apply techniques learned in childbirth preparation classes. Help your wife focus. The resident doctors will be mainly there to monitor your wife’s progress, not to coach her.

    When Yolanda was eight centimeters dilated and wanted to give up and ask for anesthesia, Dabs rallied his wife to go on. “Ngayon ka pa susuko?” he asked. Yolanda, with Dabs’ coaching, pushed and pushed and soon gave birth in no time.

    3. Cherish the situation.
    This is the ultimate moment of bonding between father- and mother-to-be. This doesn’t happen every day. Give your all-out support to your wife. When asked by the doctor, cut your baby’s umbilical cord. Take pictures when you can.

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    What if you’re not allowed inside the labor and delivery room? Dy-Del Rosario advises fathers to be patient. Wait for information. The doctor and nurses will update you on your wife’s progress.

    When baby's here
    Soon, your little baby will be out and ready to face the world. What can you do? Dy-Del Rosario says dads should:

    1. Let Mom rest.
    As much as possible, limit or prohibit the entry of visitors, at least for the first day.

    2. Inform relatives.
    Have a ready list of people to contact and promptly inform them of the good news. They are just as excited as you are!

    3. Allow your wife to bond with her mother.
    This is an important time for mother-to-mother bonding. It is your mother-in-law’s time to take care of her own daughter and let her know she’s there.

    4. Let your other children see your new baby.
    Don’t let your baby’s siblings feel left out. Take them to the nursery to see the baby right away. Let them feel that they are now Ate or Kuya.

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    5. Rest.
    Yes, you, Dad, also need to rest. All that tension can be very tiring.

    6. Preserve the event.
    Take photos and videos. Document the whole event. When your child is bigger, he’ll want to see himself
    as a newborn over and over again.

    The whole process of giving birth is “fantastic,” says Nonoy. Ruth adds that it made a lot of difference that Nonoy was there. Just a touch of his hand eased the pain somehow. And for Dabs and Yolanda, the experience strengthened their relationship as a couple. Be there for your wife and new baby -- you won’t regret it!

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    This article first appeared in the March April 2004 issue of Smart Parenting magazine

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