This blog is written FOR the dad, by the dad.
Birthing Center and Home Birth from a Dad’s Perspective
Woah woah woah, wait a sec… you want to have a what?! A home birth? At home? Our baby. Born at home. Or a Birthing Center? What’s that? You’re not serious. You’re serious…
As a dad, instinctually you want to protect. Protect your spouse, protect your baby. Unless you have been exposed to “non-traditional” methods of birth, the idea of a home birth (or a birth center) is ludicrous. Automatically your mind goes to “well what if something happens” and “I have no idea what to do”. Both very common thoughts to have.
The reason those are common thoughts is because that’s what we have been programmed to believe about birth – that something always goes wrong and that dads aren’t actually part of the pregnancy and birth- we’re just bystanders.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
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Five years ago I found myself in the very same position you’re in. You’re expecting a baby and don’t know the first thing about pregnancy or birth. You’ve just heard horror stories about people rushing to the hospital and having this hectic, crazy birth.
Or you’ve watched movies or shows where doctors and everyone are freaking out in the delivery room, the mom is screaming her face off trying to push a baby out, white-knuckled holding onto the railing of the hospital bed. Dad is trying to calm the mom down by having her do those “hee-hee-hooooos” (which I’m convinced is only in the movies), she’s sweating, he is scared to death. I’m telling you fellas, that’s not what it needs to be like.
Rewind a bit. I grew up in Northwest Iowa with the understanding that birth was meant to take place in a hospital. There was no other way. That was it. The question was never, “Are you having a hospital, birthing center, or home birth?”. It was, “Which hospital are you having your baby at?”.
Up until about seven years ago, I never even heard of a birthing center, a midwife or doula. My son is now four. He was born at Grapevine Birthing Center in Grapevine, TX. If you’re following the math, I had three years to completely switch gears in my thinking and understanding of birth and be OK with having someone who did not have ‘MD’ behind their name deliver my baby. No, not the midwife or doula. ME – I delivered our first baby.
Well, my wife did all the work but I caught my son. Our daughter was born at home last year. The only difference was we didn’t have to drive anywhere. The midwives came to us. There were no bags to pack, no anxiety about loading the car up and driving through traffic. We were able to enjoy the comfort of our own home.
I had three years to mentally prepare myself – you probably have less than nine months. So here’s what you need to do to expedite that process because I’m assuming you’re spouse is making you read this.
How a dad can prepare for a home birth:
Interviewing breathing partners? Take the list of questions with you by downloading the pdf!
- First and foremost, have an open mind.
- Talk to several midwives and ASK questions. Here’s just a few I came up with:
- My wife wants to have our baby outside of the hospital, is it safe?
- What’s the difference between hospital birth and birthing center?
- How will I (as the Dad) know how to help or what to do?
- What do I do with my hands…? (Ricky Bobby reference)
- The thought of birth in general freaks me out. Now she wants to have a home birth or in a birthing center. Can you tell me how that works?
- My wife has talked about wanting a doula at the birth, but I (as the dad) don’t understand why a doula would be needed. First, what is a doula? Isn’t the midwife and her assistant enough?
- What are the chances of something bad happening? If it does, then what?
- What happens after the birth?
- Hire a Doula.
- I cannot tell you how crucial the Doula was for me for the birth of our first child. Misconception is that she’s only for the mom. No sir. She’s for the dad too. You know that question, ‘What do I do with my hands…?’. It turns into: ‘What do I do now, and now, and now?’ She answered that question time and time again. Worth every penny.
- Enroll in a birth class
- Don’t be the dad that is not involved. It doesn’t make you more of a man to not know anything about what is happening. So be a man, be fully engaged in your partner’s birth, enjoy the process, learn everything you can about it. Your spouse and baby deserve your full attention and support.
So, do all of these things. Or don’t. But at the very least listen to your spouse and what she desires for the birth of your baby.
Pregnancy is not a medical condition. It is a natural process that has been happening for over a million years and only for the past 100 years has it been happening in the hospital.
Picture a 100 yard football field: if you cut a strand of hair in half hotdog style and lay it just short of the goal line, that’s the equivalent of how long birth has been happening in the hospital since the beginning of time. It’s almost nothing.
Why the switch from home to the hospital, you may ask? It was right about the time that washing your hands became a thing and postpartum deaths were being attributed to a cleaner environment. That’s it. (Moore 2017)
Here are a few resources on home birth and birthing centers to get you started:
You’ve got this!
- Moore, L. (2017, January 27). Changes in childbirth in the United States: 1750–1950. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://hekint.org/2017/01/27/changes-in-childbirth-in-the-united-states-1750-1950/