Why should Dads come to a GentleBirth workshop?
This is one of the questions that I get asked all of the time. Another question is: Are the men dragged there kicking and screaming?
The answer to that one often is yes!
But I’ll tell you this much – by the end of a workshop they’re running out of the place full of confidence and optimism. Really, the hardest bit is getting the men* there in the first place. Or to put it another, better, way: the hardest part is Dads feeling motivated to want to go in the first place.
So, if you’re a birth partner, what’s in a GentleBirth workshop for you? Here’s 7 good reasons to think about coming to one.
1. Playing the game, not watching from the sidelines
Is there anything worse than watching a game from the sidelines when all you want is be out there on the pitch, giving it all you’ve got for the team? The problem is men often use this description when talking about their own presence at their baby’s birth. They felt helpless and disempowered, and sometimes side-lined and pushed out of the way. Supporting your partner and advocating for her during labour requires planning, preparation and knowledge. If you want to be in the game, you need the knowledge, the skills and the practice to get the result everyone’s looking for – a positive, calm and confident experience for mum, baby and you. At a GentleBirth workshop, you will learn how to support your partner emotionally and physically on the big day. You’ll also learn how to advocate for her so that she can get on with the business of having your baby. No marathon runner rocks up to the start line five minutes before the race without any preparation done. Neither should you.
2. Team work
Your partner is having a baby. She’s about to go through the most amazing, life transforming, physically and emotionally challenging experience of her life. She needs you. She needs you to know her birth preferences. She needs you to understand why they are her birth preferences. She needs you to sit down with her and plan this out together so you’re both on the same page and confident about it too. She needs you to know what to do when she feels that first twinge, or when her waters release, or when things aren’t going to plan and decisions need to be made. She needs you to rub her back – in the right place, at the right time. She needs you to hang off, like literally hang her body off yours so you’re taking all of her weight. She needs you to know when she needs a sip of water when she can’t speak. She needs you to be working together, as the perfect birthing team. You’ll learn how to do all of these things and more at a GentleBirth workshop.
3. Feeling the fear – and knowing what to do about it
Having a baby is scary. It’s scary if it’s your first baby and the only births you’ve ever seen have been on TV or at the cinema. It’s scary if you’ve already had a baby and things didn’t go to plan and both you and your partner have fears about the same thing happening again. It’s scary if you’ve been waiting a long time for this baby or if you have lost a baby at any stage of pregnancy before. Becoming a Dad full stop is scary. At a GentleBirth workshop, you’ll learn how to identify your fears, challenge them and give yourself coping skills to not only manage them, but also turn that fear and anxiety into positivity and confidence. I’m talking about you now, not your partner. She’ll learn the same thing, but it’s important that we take care of your fears too.
4. Energy in the room
One of the things you’ll learn at a GentleBirth workshop is how big a role hormones play in birth. You’ll learn how important the “love hormone” oxytocin is, and how it can help your partner have a positive birth experience. You’ll also learn what switches oxytocin on and, just as importantly, what switches oxytocin off. A big factor in getting oxytocin flowing is the energy in the room and you, the birth partner, have a huge role to play here. Your energy and the energy of other people in the delivery suite all have an impact on your labouring partner, and you will be the gatekeeper of ensuring that energy is positive. A GentleBirth workshop will show you how.
5. Forewarned is forearmed
All maternity units have their policies. They’re in the business of delivering lots of babies as quickly as possible because there’s lots of women on their way in to have a lot more babies! At a GentleBirth workshop, you’ll learn what the policies are in the unit you are attending. You’ll also learn how to navigate these policies to get the best birth experience for your partner, your baby and you. The reason you need to know them is that you might need to make important decisions on the day. When your partner is in labour is probably not the best time for you to be learning new information which you’ll have to act immediately on. You’ll also learn how to ask important questions to help you make those decisions with confidence.
6. If it’s good enough for Michael Phelps, Wayne Rooney, Brian O’Driscoll, Rory McIlory and Conor McGregor, it’s good enough for you.
Brain-training, mindfulness and sports psychology play a huge part in GentleBirth. We use tried and tested techniques that leading sports people have used for success the world over. Sports preparation and birth preparation have more similarities than you’d think and we’ll teach you the skills and exercises you need to feel and perform like the winning birth partner you are!
7. Time Out Together
To some people a weekend workshop sounds like a lot of time! But really it’s a lot of fun. The beauty of a weekend session is:
- you’re immersed for 24 hours so you’re in the zone
- everything you need is covered over the weekend so you’re not trying to schedule an hour in your diary over a few weeks
- you might be arriving with trepidation on Saturday afternoon, but I guarantee you you’ll be bounding out of there with confidence on Sunday.
- you can make a romantic weekend of it. Many couples squeeze in a sneaky date night – maybe dinner out or a movie in – while they’re spending a weekend’s quality time together. And we all know we need to take those opportunities while we can!
- there’s lots of laughing, relaxation and socialising with other couples over the weekend and, trust me, you’ll sleep like you haven’t sleep in ages!
So you probably haven’t read the print outs she left beside the bed, or the chapter in the pregnancy book where she bent the corners of the pages down for you. And that’s okay because maybe you consume information and prepare for things in a different way to her. But give some serious thought to coming to a GentleBirth workshop. It’s not an ordinary antenatal class. No one is going to tell you to go get yourself a cup of tea or sit there and let us take care of things, like a good man. If you want to be in, oh you’ll be in. And you’ll be on fire!
Take a look at upcoming dates for weekend GentleBirth workshops at AlphaBirth here.
* Some women choose to have a birth partner who isn’t their baby’s father for myriad reasons that are the right ones for them. Even though the vast majority of women have male partners with them, many will have a female birth partner. All seven points above are just as relevant to women as they are to men, including the quality time in number 7. Being a birth partner is a serious job. You need to give it all you’ve got!
© Sylda Dwyer, AlphaBirth 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the owner is strictly prohibited.