We can laugh and joke about pre-wedding jitters, but what about pre-baby jitters? While some anxiety over the anticipated life changes are normal, some individuals have bigger concerns and fears around the process of birth and becoming a parent. This can be particularly difficult when the person getting nervous is not the one giving birth!
So what is there to do when dad is shaking in his boots? Or when one parent has done this before and the other hasn't? Some of the solutions are individual and based on the particular fears that a partner has, but some are true for all parents.
1. Be Prepared
Pre-natal classes are great, but remember they are not all created equal. Classes offered by hospitals can be amazing, or terrible, and there isn't a lot of predictability on which you will get. Taking classes through private companies will often be more accommodating to your schedule, and are more likely to tailor their class to your specific questions. If a partner is particularly nervous, private classes will allow you both to go at your own pace, and can remove the embarrassment factor of being squeamish.
2. What Happens in Hollywood...
Hollywood gets it wrong most of the time and makes it scary to boot. Most births do not look like a remake of either Carrie or The Exorcist but Hollywood might make it seem that way. In fact, avoid all birth videos, including of actual births on YouTube or other sources. They will not reflect your birth, or the relationship you have with each other.
3. Bring in Reinforcements
Doulas are there for both of you! Having a person to reassure, answer questions, and give suggestions can be invaluable in a stressful situation. There are doulas to support every family, every type of birth, every family makeup, and every situation. Find one that you are both comfortable with.
4. Find a 'Dads' Group
Whether it be online or in person, finding a group of people to reach out to is an important part of parenting. If you look for a group before the baby is born, you can support each other leading up to the big day, as well as after.
Google tends to offer a worst-case-scenario no matter what you put in the search bar.
5. Know Your Limits
Be real and honest with yourself and your partner. If you are nervous because the sight of blood makes you pass out every time, it is important to be honest about that. While many dads are in the room during birth, not all are, and as long as both of you are okay with that, there is nothing wrong with being close by without having a front row seat.
6. Practice Makes Perfect
While you probably can't practice attending births on the regular leading up to your big day, you can practice mindfulness and breathing techniques to control your anxiety. Try speaking with a therapist or doctor about ways to control your nervousness. Yoga, meditation, and other calming techniques can also be a great help.
7. Stay Off Google
Google tends to offer a worst-case-scenario no matter what you put in the search bar. The more you can avoid Google, the calmer you will be.
8. Take a Break
Being nervous in a birthing room is not always the most helpful thing. Stepping out for a few moments to get a cold drink, a coffee, or some fresh air can make a big difference. If taking five minutes alone will help you feel calmer, then take those few minutes.
It is normal to be nervous, the trick is not letting your anxiety intrude on a very exciting day. Arming yourself with as much, or as little, knowledge as you need to find your centre can make the day of birth more exciting than nerve wracking.
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