Archive for August, 2012

Dads celebrate birth

I was lucky enough to attend the birth of baby Riley recently. Leading up to the birth I always include childbirth education sessions as part of my doula role. This includes access to DadSkills online childbirth education classes. When discussing his role at the birth, I asked the dad if he wanted to receive his baby with the help of the midwife and lay the baby on his partner’s chest. In childbirth classes his answer was always, “I will see on the day”.

When birth day came, he was so supportive, offering constant support, being funny (which really helped lighten the mood) and holding the CTG monitor so that his baby’s heart beat could be heard well. He was the best at this.

As the baby’s head was crowning I asked him if he wanted to receive his baby, no pressure but this was his one-off chance.  A myriad of emotions passed over his face in that second before he put his gloves on – including fear, uncertainty, excitement and determination. He received his beautiful boy, lifted him and laid him so gently on his partner’s chest. He was really emotional, teary and he kept saying, “This is real, this is really real”.

His partner was really surprised by his reaction because he lived on a farm and was used to seeing animals being born. His response was, “I never cared about them.”

As another part of my doula role, I visit the families postnatally. The visits are great ways for the couple to debrief the birth and ask any questions. This visit was lovely with the new mum coping very well with breastfeeding and the tiredness of new parenthood.

During the visit, the most amazing conversation evolved with the dad talking about what happened when he returned home after the birth. He said he felt very weird leaving his partner and baby and going back home. He said he felt the need to have “his boys” around him so he phoned his mates to come around to “wet the baby’s head”.

As a mother and doula, I have never really understood this until he explained it. He wanted to share his experience with his closest friends over a couple of drinks. Even though none of these men had children of their own, he said he really wanted to tell them how good it could be. He said that a lot of the guys looked shocked but were really interested in what he had to say and he felt like he was helping them (for the future). He said he felt proud to be able to support his partner and that we wanted his friends to know it was ok to do this.

It appears that this is a common experience. We posed the question on our DadSkills Facebook page: “How did you celebrate the birth of your baby?” Some of the responses varied from celebrating with friends and birthday cake to having the boys over for some drinks, but the common theme seemed to be to celebrate but also to TELL their story.

Dads do have stories to share. They do have knowledge to impart and they have a really important role to play in childbirth.



antenatal classes  – childbirth classes – prenatal classes – online childbirth classes – dad to be – dads to be – pregnancy classes – birthing classes

Photography at Birth


One of my biggest regrets of the birth of our first son was we forgot to take photos of me in labour. It wasn’t so I could show everyone but I would have really liked to see what I looked like. Being a doula and attending births, I know what other women look like (amazing, powerful, beautiful, otherworldly) and I imagine that I looked like that too. I also wanted to see my hubby in action. My memory was he was amazing but I wanted to be able see what he did and what he looked like when our son was born as he received him into his arms. I was so grateful after our second son was born to have a few snaps taken by our doula and my wonderful husband.

I think the reason we forgot first time around was that my labour progressed fairly quickly and both my doula and my husband were really busy helping me and supporting me. We were lucky to get photos straight after he was born.

Nowadays many birthing parents are eager to preserve this amazing time and photographers are often employed to take pregnancy photos, then possibly photos during labour and birth, and then photos of the whole family in the very early postnatal period.

It’s probably fairly easy to find a great pregnancy and postnatal photographer. Asking for referral and then choosing one that you like the style of and connect with. One of my clients had some beautiful postnatal photos taken by BE Photography just last week. I love how Janine captured this little bundle of joy.

Asking a photographer into the birthing room is another issue all together. Firstly, a labouring woman doesn’t like to be observed. There is so much evidence that shows if a woman in labour feels watched or that she has to “perform” then her labour will slow down. She will start to produce adrenaline and things will go slower and be more uncomfortable as adrenaline blocks the body’s natural endorphins. So things to take into consideration when choosing a birth photographer:

Whomever you ask to photograph needs to be comfortable with birth (especially if the mother plans a natural birth) and she needs to be able to leave her own birth experiences at the door.

They have to be incognito and out of the way for the reasons above.  A labouring woman will hardly be aware of a good birth photographer.

The photographer has to be prepared to be in for the long haul. Labour goes on for as long as it has to so they need to be able to be around for it, or to leave and come back as needed.

Birth photography is not just about the mum. Capturing a man changing into a father is such a special thing.  This is one of the things I love about being a doula. You actually see the shift in the couple as they become parents.

If you do decide to have a birth photographer remember to check with the facility where you are birthing to see what their policy is. Some facilities only allow 2 support people so if you already plan for two support people to be present you might need to negotiate in advance to have an extra person in the room or risk your photographer being turned away on the day. Of course, if you decide to have a homebirth you can pretty much have whomever you like. This is where we have seen some pretty amazing montages of labour and birth photos put to music. It’s truly touching. You can feel all the emotions of the day.

I am a member of Australian Doulas and there are a few of our doulas who offer birth photography as part of their service and their photos are amazing.  I am the first to say I have no particular abilities as a photographer but I am quite happy to take some snaps on my iPhone to burn to CD for my birthing parents as a momento, if that’s something they would like.


antenatal classes – prenatal classes – childbirth classes – online childbirth classes – dad to be – dads to be  – pregnancy classes – birthing classes

Dad to be Here are 5 Top Tips for Advocating at Birth

This is one topic that is definitely not brought up in traditional childbirth classes as the general consensus at birthing facilities is they believe they do a pretty good job. And they are right….. most of the time.

However there is no more important time than at birth that you may have to act as advocate for your partner. There will be times during the birth when she will not be able to speak for herself so she will need you to speak up for her. Remember you are about to become a dad and dads are great at protecting their partners and baby.

1. Keep smiling

Everything you say and do can be done with a smile. You will get much further if you are polite and considerate. It doesn’t mean you have to be a push over. You can still hold your ground. You are a health consumer and have the right to good health care. If you find yourself feeling a bit aggro you will need to change tact. DadSkills online childbirth classes for the dad to be shows you what you can do in this situation.

2. Have a birth plan ready

As doulas and childbirth educators we talk about a birth plan. This is not so your partner can tick off each one and say she had the perfect birth (she may well be disappointed). We think its a good idea to have a birth plan so that you can say you looked at all your options. You already know what your choices are, what the next best thing is and can make a decision easily without you partner being interrupted during birth.


Think Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, Nothing for EVERY intervention that is proposed. Then ask for some time to discuss in private. Sometimes this is the best way to diffuse a potential argument if you have 5 minutes to talk things over. You know it’s a true emergency when you have the entire staff in your room and everything is happening around you. I know one dad who had this written down on a card by his wife so he would remember.

4. Policies vs What’s best

Be aware that many of the birthing facilities policy and procedures are based on how to run that facility in the most cost effective and efficient way and may not necessarily be what is best for you, your partner and your baby. A great example is the immediate weighing and measuring of your baby. You can ask for this to be delayed until the initial bonding and breastfeeding has happened. Most of the time they just want to get the job over and done with because they have other women birthing.

5. Caregivers change

If you are not happy with the care giver you have its likely there will be a change of staff at some time. Again DadSkills online childbirth classes for the dad to be show you how you can deal with these situations.


antenatal classes – prenatal classes – childbirth classes – online childbirth classes – dad to be – dads to be – birthing classes – pregnancy classes