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LivingHealthThis one’s for the dads…

This one’s for the dads…

Dr. Anca Matei is an obstetrician and gynecologist at Almonte General Hospital and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Newborn Care.

Dads, you are so important. We have more and more research telling us of the wonderful role you play in your children’s development. But did you know that your helpful and supportive presence during labour and delivery is one of the best gifts you can give to your partner and your newborn baby?

Think about this: if there was a single pill that would shorten the duration of labour, increase the chance of a vaginal delivery, lower the risk of a cesarean section and lower the need for pain medications during labour, would you not want it for your partner?

What if this same pill also improved her satisfaction with the experience of labour?

And what if it also improved the condition of your baby at birth (called Apgar score)?

And there’s more…this pill is free and has no adverse effects!

Dads, you are the pill!

The World Health Organization recommends a trusted support person be present at all stages of labour and childbirth. But to be a good labour companion, you need to prepare a little bit. Here’s what I recommend:

First, learn about pregnancy, labour, delivery and the early postpartum period. Take prenatal classes together with your partner and attend prenatal appointments. Ask questions, and talk to your partner about her wishes. This will help you understand what’s normal and what isn’t, what’s important to your partner and to you, and it will equip you with tools to advocate for your partner during labour.

Second, comfort  your partner during labour. Find out what she may like – perhaps a massage during contractions, a beloved playlist, dim lights, no phones, whatever it is.

Third, remember that your important role doesn’t end with childbirth. Postpartum, take good care of the mother-baby dyad. Make sure mom has what she needs – water, nutritious food, clean laundry, a ride to appointments. Offer to change diapers and look after baby while she naps. Give her lots of encouragement! These are small things with big impact, like improved breastfeeding and lower risk of postpartum anxiety and depression. Both of these have huge benefits for both mom and baby.

Dads, you benefit from this too. Dads who are involved and supportive during labour and delivery also report a positive impact on their relationships with their partner and the baby. It’s a win-win-win!

I wish all the dads and dads to be  in our community a Happy Father’s Day! Being a father is your hardest, best and most important job!

If you’re looking for more info on the topic of labour companion check out this article from the World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news/item/19-03-2019-why-having-a-companion-during-labour-and-childbirth-may-be-better-for-you

Anca Matei MD MSc FRCSC (she/her)
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa
MSc Global Health Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
Almonte General Hospital

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