First time dads: What to expect at the birth

So you and your partner are getting close to 'D' day. If your knowledge of birth is solely based on dramatic TV shows - you might be getting worried. But don't be. A recent survey by Save the Children found about 85 percent of fathers choose to be present in the delivery room and most would probably encourage you to do the same. 

Here is some information to help prepare you:

Where can you give birth?

Most Australian mothers deliver in a public or private hospital. This means that you’re more likely to have access to specialists and/or a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) if necessary.

Some parents prefer the more ‘home like’ surroundings of a birthing centre while others opt to give birth at home with the help of a midwife. This can be a more relaxed delivery option if you’re at low risk of complications. But if your partner or baby needs a higher level of care your doctor may need to be transfer them to hospital.

Who'll be at the birth?

The location you choose for delivery has some bearing on the number and type of support you can have on the day. 

Home births and birthing centres are more likely to only have a midwife. Hospitals usually have additional staff such as an obstetrician, anaesthetist and possibly other healthcare professionals on call.

What happens at the birth?

Labour often begins by itself, but in some cases your partner’s midwife or doctor may need to help the body start labour, also called inducing the labour.

Assuming things go to plan, your partner will then be moved to the delivery suite. 
mum with newborn at hospital
However when your baby is being delivered, if you’re by your partner’s side, now is the time to remember what you learnt in birthing classes and be the best support you can be. It’s important for you to stay calm and be her familiar reassuring person in an intense and often unfamiliar situation. Hold her hand, stroke her arm, offer her a massage and encourage her to practice the breathing exercises you learnt at birthing classes. 

You’ll probably have a birth plan that covers issues like pain management and who’s going to cut the baby’s cord. But be aware, if there are complications, things may need to change very quickly. 

Provided all goes to plan, the baby will be put on your partner’s chest or belly straight away after delivery, or taken to a warming station first to make sure everything’s OK. And now’s the time for the three of you to quietly get to know each other.

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