Hey dudes — your modus operandi during baby’s birth can consist of more than shelling out ice chips, taking the occasional photo, and having the life squeezed out of your hand. The vibes you put off directly affect your baby’s and lady’s journey through birth. Exuding a calm, confident, and prepared demeanor (even if you’re faking it!) will help your birthing honey assume more of a goddess essence than a “What have we done?!” shrill.
Here’s how to clear then bolster your emotional state before The Big Day, and infuse traditional childbirth preparation methods with deeper meaning.
1. Fear release exercise
Sometimes, releasing negative emotions via talking and journaling isn’t enough — that junk may need to be worked out via physical exertion. Make a list of any and all fears you have surrounding the birth of your child, and all areas of your life the birth will affect (which is everything). Every day, or every other day, choose one fear from the list and exercise it out. As you run (or bike, or engage in any other exercise of choice) envision the fear being released via your sweat.
2. Cry it out
Tears are cathartic — especially for men who were told not to cry. Moms are not the only ones who go through a hormonal shift during the journey into parenthood; it has been proven dads also experience some hormonal remodeling, specifically a decline in their testosterone levels. Repressing the emotions that accompany these chemical shifts could cause you to eventually experience postpartum blues; allowing yourself to really feel what comes up can help cleanse your emotional slate. Because it can be tricky to cry in front of others, find a private space and watch or read something that will stir up your emotions — then let it flow.
3. Be vulnerable with your lady
Being stoic now will not serve your partnership when the baby is born. Share your fears, concerns, and other percolating papa thoughts with your partner so you can both move into parenthood in sync, knowing how to best support one another.
4. Hold a baby
Do babies intimidate you? Afraid you’re going to accidentally “break them”? Learning to hold a real baby beforehand, and realizing they’re not as breakable as you originally thought, will bolster your confidence when it comes time to hold your own secretly hearty newborn.
5. Practice childbirth preparation
Many pops physically go to childbirth preparation classes but don’t practice the learned techniques until … never. Practice the breathing exercises, the affirmations, the birthing positions, and every other suggestion offered in your class. Physically and mentally experiencing the techniques your lady will utilize during birth will make it easier for you to support her efforts.
6. Create the birth preferences with her
Co-creating the birth preferences will ensure you’re abreast of all your partner’s preferences, all the way down to her breast preferences (pun absolutely intended). Digging into all the birthing details will also allow latent questions and concerns to be revealed and discussed before you’re knuckle-deep in birthing juice.
7. Pack your bag
The hospital bag is not just for mama; you need a bag, too. Set aside time to slowly go through the process of packing your bag and allowing it to physically connect you with the major shifts coming your way. Make sure to pack a special treat or gift you can enjoy after birth (and pack one for mom!). And if that treat is a cigar, be prepared to walk a few blocks away from the hospital to smoke it, and bring a change of clothes to switch into before you reenter the hospital.
8. Pamper yourself
I know, I know, “Why does dad need pampering? He’s not the pregnant one.” But, the lives of both parents will go through a dramatic shift when baby is born and golf outings, boy’s nights out, and other such “frivolities” will be distant memories when you have a fresh human in your arms. Having time to nurture your own hobbies before birth will help you shift into fatherhood with less longing for the past.
9. Know that it could all go sideways
There is no amount of preparation that can prevent a strike from the unknown. Honor yourself for dedicating time and beautiful intentions to prepping for an optimal birth for your born and unborn family; then let it go, knowing you’ll all move through the experience you’re meant to have. The emotional strength you’ve built up will greatly serve you during unexpected circumstances.
Even though you’re not the one pushing a human out an orifice, you can contribute to your child’s birth in a profound way by being a solid source of guidance, encouragement, and peaceful energy to your partner. You got this, dad.