When it comes to birth, dads are often left out in the cold. I mean this metaphorically and in reality. During pregnancy, a lot of the focus is on the mum. Dad is often neglected from appointments during pregnancy and a lot of the communications directed towards pregnant couples are actually for mum. Poor dads aren’t really being spoken to in all of this. And yet, they should be. There should be more information available on how to prepare dads for childbirth.. but where is it? Even if you put a simple google search how to prepare dads for childbirth you’ll only get a handful of articles show up. It’s a shocking state of affairs!

The thing is, Dads-to-be are known to experience pregnancy symptoms alongside their partner and they also experience the hormonal changes. Their lack of knowledge around birth can lead to them experiencing a lot of fear too. Coupled with the fact that childbirth is an inherently female event, can make it terribly alienating for them. They too are about to become a parent. The thing is, dads are the best person to support mum throughout pregnancy and birth, and yet very little is being done to support them. One of my previous podcast guests is on a one-man mission to change all this. Mark Harris, who’s the man behind Birthing for Blokes, has just released a book, Men, Love and Birth and is working tirelessly to help prepare men for birth.

Well, on today’s podcast I’ve got a guest who’s also throwing her weight behind supporting dads in birth. Today, I’m chatting to Rachel Gardner, founder of Doula Daddy. Rachel believes that dads are the perfect birthing companion and that all they need is some loving support to help guide them. Once they are equipped with the knowledge and practical tips, they can be amazing birth partners.

rachel-annie-ossie-250x164Rachel is a highly experienced hypnobirthing teacher and doula, who has taught over 250 couples and attended 44 births. Rachel is Lead of Sheffield Maternity Services Liaison Committee and is currently working with midwives at Jessops on an exciting research project. Rachel’s great passion together with supporting couples (which includes dads as well as mums!) in pregnancy and birth, is supporting and protecting maternal mental health. Rachel lectures on this subject at Midwifery conferences and is currently helping Sheffield Public Health in this area.

After years of teaching Hypnobirthing, Rachel was asked to attend a couple of births and enjoyed this so much she decided to train to be a doula. In the course of this training she was dismayed to find that the Doula’s in training were encouraged to give Dads little jobs to keep them busy “and out of the way”. This went against everything Rachel wanted for Dads at births and also for the Mothers.

Rachel is a fierce believer in the role of the Father and Birth Partner at a birth. Rachel has long said that the difference between a good hypnobirth and an exceptional one is the Daddy/birth partner.

In today’s episode, Rachel shares how she works with couples on how to prepare dads for childbirth. Rachel believes that midwives are the expert on birth, the mother is the expert on her body and her partner is the expert on her, and that mummy and daddy are the experts on their own birth.

Some of the advice she has for dads which she shares includes;

  • If you have positive thoughts about your partner during birth – share those with her, rather than keeping them to yourself.
  • Shower her with love and affection… this does wonders for stimulating oxytocin during birth which helps keep labour moving
  • Touch is super important: stroking, handholding, touching, kisses. Make sure there is that physical contact and support for mum ALL the time
  • Pack some facecloths in dads bag so that you can run them under cold water to help cool mum down during birth if she needs it
  • Have some bendy straws handy so that mum can have a drink
  • Don’t wait for mum to ask for something that you think she might need during birth – like a drink or a snack – just give it to her!

How to prepare dads for childbirth

Here’s some of Rachel’s advice to help dads prepare for childbirth…

  • Help them know their role and what is expected of them; they are the expert on mum
  • Have lots of communication before hand with mum so that you can both discuss how you want things to go
  • Help to educate them on the birthing process so that they know what to expect birth wise so they are not surprised
  • Be clear on what TO DO and what NOT TO DO. Mums need to super clear with what they want from their partner during the birth and not think “well, it goes without saying..” No it doesn’t – TELL HIM!
  • Have an awareness of how important the love bubble is during birth

During our chat, Rachel shares a fabulous exercise that couples can do to help build a strong bond between them in the lead up to birth – she calls it the Gratitude Exercise. If you would like to get hold of this exercise, then it’s available as part of the download to go with this week’s episode. Rachel is also giving away a Birth Packing List for dads. This contains all the things that mums might not have considered that dads can have to hand to help mum on the day. To get hold of these two goodies, just click on the box below to get them delivered straight to your inbox.

(I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available.  If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.)

Also, during the chat, I talk about this article which is a great one for dads to read (made me laugh too!) 8 things they don’t tell dads about childbirth

And… I did promise a puppy pic! During the show, you could hear Rachel’s puppies in the background feeding with their mum.. well, of course, I had to get hold of a picture!! And here it is…


What did you think about my chat with Rachel? How does the dad-to-be in your life feel about birth? If you’re a dad-to-be, did you find it useful to listen to? Let me know in the comments!


Alexia Leachman
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