www.amazon.co.ukCarl Pickhardt, author of Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence.
Topic: How to understand, and even enjoy, the rocky road to independence.
Issues: Preparing for the inevitable; a road map to early, mid-, and late adolescence; discipline that does–and doesn’t–work; why constant arguing is better than silence.
www.amazon.co.ukJanine Walker Caffrey, author of Drive.
Topic: 9 ways to motivate your kids to achieve.
Issues: Getting kids excited about learning; encouraging children to seek opportunities beyond their comfort zone; using rewards and consequences to get results; inspiring children to take charge of their own life.
www.amazon.co.ukSarah McMoyler, coauthor of The Best Birth.
Topic: A Guide to the safest, healthiest, most satisfying labor and delivery.
Issues: Understanding the causes of pain and pain management approaches; myths about doctors and the medical team (hint: they’re on you’re side); everything you need to know to make the best, most-important decisions on the biggest day of your life.
www.amazon.co.ukCarl Pickhardt, author of Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence.
Two of the most cherished parts of becoming a modern father—witnessing the birth of his baby and cutting the umbilical cord—are coming under attack.
In the first case, researchers at Oxford University found that some dads who witnessed life-threatening, traumatic, or especially complicated labors and births were more affected by what they’d seen than the women who actually went through it. So affected, in fact, that they were diagnosed with PTSD, a condition that’s usually associated with combat veterans or people who’ve undergone major trauma—exactly what a lot of these new dads have done.
Now, before you scoff, consider a typical emergency scenario (if there is such a thing) where the modern father is suddenly faced with an unconscious, bleeding wife, abruptly pushed out of the way by medical staff, and left alone outside an operating room with little or no information about her fate or that of the baby, fearing the worst and not being able to help. “For the dads, it’s extremely vivid because they are fully aware of what’s going on” said As lead researcher Professor Marian Knight put it in an interview with Britain’s Independent newspaper. “Many of these emergencies involve severe bleeding… “Often, we’re running around trying to save mum’s life, but we need to be thinking about dads as well.”
Now, on to the cord cutting–another staple of modern fatherhood. Not to worry, dads, you’ll still be able to do it. But experts are suggesting that you wait until the cord stops pulsating. The reason, say doctors in England, is that up to a third of the baby’s blood supply is still in the umbilical cord and placenta and cutting the cord immediately could lower the baby’s iron levels for as long as six months. Iron levels have been linked in some research with brain development. By waiting for 30 seconds to five minutes, you’ll be ensure that your baby’s tank has been fully topped off. There are some medical conditions that require that the cord be cut immediately.
If you’re interested in delaying the cord cut for a few minutes after the birth, talk it over with the nursing staff and doctors early. But be flexible. If they feel it needs to be done sooner, do it. If you’re intrigued by the idea of waiting, you might also want to check out what’s being called lotus births (Google it), where the umbilical cord doesn’t get cut for as long as 10 days. Sounds a little extreme to me, but some new-agey moms swear by it. Definitely not for everyone. But I suppose as long as it isn’t dangerous, it’s okay.
Dear Mr. Dad: I’m in the US Air Force, stationed in Italy. My wife is 5.5 months pregnant with our first and I’ve asked our on-base obstetricians to allow me to catch the baby when it’s born. I feel I should be the first person to hold my child, not some doctor we’ll never see again. They don’t seem too happy with this and I fear I won’t get the chance. Since we’re overseas, we don’t have the option of choosing a different OB. Am I being petty?
A: It wasn’t all that long ago that dads weren’t allowed in the delivery room at all, let alone to get involved in the actual delivery. In fact there was a case back in the 70s of an expectant dad being arrested for trying to attend the birth of his child. That idiotic attitude changed after a while, and cutting the cord became the standard. Today, things have progressed even further, and lots of dads do exactly what you want to do: catch the baby. So no, you’re not being petty. Hopefully, other expectant dads will read this and be inspired by you.
Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is six months pregnant and she just signed the two of us up for a childbirth prep class at the hospital where our baby will be born. The problem is that while she’s all excited about the class, I have no interest at all. Don’t get me wrong—I’m excited about becoming a dad and I want to be there to support her and everything, but I’ve heard from a number of my friends that they didn’t feel particularly welcome in the class and that the entire focus was on the mom-to-be. Should I just suck it up and go to the class, even though I don’t want to?
A: In a sentence, yes, suck it up. Your friends are right: the focus of childbirth prep classes is definitely on the expectant mom (more on that in a minute). And there’s a good chance that you won’t feel welcome. But there’s an even better chance that your wife will never forgive you if you bail on the class. In her mind, there’s a direct connection between how much she feels you love her and how much interest you have in being a dad. And while to you, your excitement level about your impending fatherhood and taking—or not taking—a prep class are completely separate issues, to her they’re one and the same.
Now, back to the focus of the class. One of the problems I’ve had with childbirth education is that it’s entirely too mom focused. No question, delivering a baby is something we, as guys, will never quite understand—and I’m okay with that. But the reality is that psychologically, your transition to parenthood is just as profound as your wife’s. Your life is going to be turned upside down as much as hers. In fact, one could argue you’re your transition is even harder—she has so much more social support than you do. Unfortunately, that important bit of information is too often overlooked. (That’s exactly why I wrote The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to Be, and did a DVD called “Toolbox for New Dads,” both of which focus on men and how they’re affected by pregnancy, birth, and beyond.)
The solution? First, slap a smile on your face and make sure you’ve cleared your schedule for the 6-8 evenings the class will last. You won’t be alone. In my research, most expectant dads who take prep classes with their partner do so for her. Interestingly, a recent study in Sweden reached the same conclusion. Second, sign up for a dad-only class. I’ve been teaching seminars for expectant dads for years and I can assure you that having a woman in the room completely changes the dynamics. Guys aren’t nearly as open about discussing the things they really want to know about, their fears, worries, concerns (which is why every time an expectant mom wants to sit in on the class, I—very gently—ask her to leave). If your hospital doesn’t offer a dad-only class, the DVD I mentioned is a good alternative. Third, read everything you can possibly get your hands on about labor and delivery. You need to know what labor looks like, how long it typically lasts, how you can best help your wife through it, what kinds of things typically go wrong (and there’s always something), medication options, who all those people are and why they’re running in and out of your room, and again, what you can do if there’s a Plan B or C or D.