Dads Make Good Doulas
Dads make the best Doulas, according to Mrs Wong Boh Boi, Assistant Director (Clinical) Senior ParentCraft Lactation Consultant at Thomson Medical Centre. Traditionally, Doulas coach and support women through the birthing process; their presence provides much assurance to the mothers.
In a similar way, Dads are the best cheerleaders for Mums. “Oftentimes, in the second stage of labour, the only voice that the mum will hear is that of the dad,” says Mrs Wong.
Women, especially in Asian societies, often regard the husband as a pillar of strength. A mum-to-be may feel overwhelmed in many ways, but finds assurance when her husband takes an interest in their baby.
Talk, Touch and Teach
Mrs Wong firmly believes that it is important for fathers to be involved early in his child’s life; in fact way before birth, at the ante-natal stage. By being involved, bonding and staying connected; a dad builds the foundation for a solid family in which his child can thrive.
Gleaning from the myriad subjects covered in ParentCraft’s programmes, Mrs Wong shares three simple ways for Dad to connect with his expectant wife and their unborn child:
Talk, sing, communicate –Amazing as it sounds, our ability to hear develops at 18 weeks in the womb. As such, Mrs Wong advocates that a father converses with his unborn child, using simple language. For dads who are at a loss of where to begin, she provides “scripts”, encouraging them to “talk about daily life.”
For example, at the start of the day, Dad can say, “Good morning, Baby.” If Dad leaves for work forgetting to do so, he can call his wife on the phone to say, “Hello Baby! I didn’t say ‘Hi’ to you this morning.” In addition, Dad can choose to connect through song, introducing the child to the rhythm and melody of his voice.
Studies show that this can result in baby being more likely to respond to the father’s voice and be comforted by it, after birth. The new father will experience an amazing connection, and enjoy the soothing effect of his voice on the baby at the same time.
Touch gently, create ripples –Using the analogy of the developing foetus in the amniotic sac to a child floating restfully in a pool of calm waters, Mrs Wong suggests that it is better for the father to place his hand gently on the mother’s abdomen than to stroke in circular movements. The former “creates ripples” while the latter results in a “whirlpool”. This is important as at times there is the danger of triggering premature labour by stroking the abdomen too vigorously.
Teach about the “light of the world” –Men play the privileged role of Educator to their offspring, by starting the child’s journey of discovery in the womb. By shining a torch six inches away from the mother’s abdomen, Dad introduces the unborn child to an important part of the world he or she will be entering in due time.
Studies show that children exposed to light in this way are more alert, receptive, responsive and interactive. To avoid the classic “shocked deer caught in headlights” scenario, do not hold the torch too close to the abdomen.
Focus on the Relational
Build a strong family by keeping “focus on the human side,” so that processes or programmes are not ‘hijacked’ by pre-occupations.
For example, while there is the tendency for a proud father to want to take photographs immediately after the delivery, it is more important that Dad and Mum spend time together holding their baby. “It is a crucial moment of bonding for the family,” Mrs Wong explains. Therefore, dads are encouraged to relinquish their cameras to nurses who would gladly assist.
Mrs Wong recalls that in the past, dads often did not know what to do in the hospital. In contrast, a dad now “knows where to place himself before, during and after delivery” because of skills and knowledge gained from programmes such as the Childbirth Education Course which Thomson Medical Centre has conducted for over 30 years.
Been There, Done Dad
New dad, Mr Bruno Benjamin, 37, a senior application consultant, recounts his experience. “During the labour and contractions, we did not panic… (The classes) gave me confidence…(and) allowed me to be engaged in more activities and be more involved.”
“You are aware of what to look out for,” he adds, having learnt how to carry, massage and swaddle a baby.
Besides attending the Childbirth Education Course, Bruno also went for ParentCraft’s Dad’s Enrichment Programme which was introduced in 2012 in response to growing recognition of the value of father-involvement in his child’s development.
Mr Jeremy Chng, 37, found the Dad’s Enrichment Programme “more in depth, more personal, more hands on.” It gave him “insight on how to handle relationships as a new dad.”
Jeremy, a regional manager, describes the dynamics of being in a group of 10 to 12 guys in the Dad’s Enrichment Programme, “It allows you to ask freely, without embarrassment, specific questions such as: ‘How can I be the man of the house?’ or ‘How do I handle my wife?’”
It is not surprising that Dads are responding well to the Dad’s Enrichment Programme. ”Men look for what’s logical and practical, achievable, and feasible,” says Mrs Wong.
Armed with the right skills and knowledge, today’s dads-to-be and new dads are forming close bonds with their babies, welcoming them to the world -into strong arms, hearts and families.
1. Golden View Ultrasound (2010) Bonding with Baby Starts in the Womb, retrieved 11 July 2013
2. The Reading Womb (2013)The Perfect Gift for the Daddy-to-be, Books of Course!, retrieved 11 July 2013
3. Thomson Medical Centre, TMC’s New Enrichment Programme for Dads, retrieved 11 July 2013
ParentCraft’s Dads Enrichment Programme modules include:
- Importance of bonding – connecting with the unborn, newborn to growing up phase
- Relationship tools that work
- Importance of planning for baby’s arrival
- Practical hands-on session: Tips on taking care of mother and baby
- Learning about the needs of the mother: ante-natal, during labour, and post natal
- How to massage your wife to release her aching muscles and pain
- Touch therapy
- Family first / Family fun
For more information, contact Thomson ParentCraft Centre at 62514090 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More reading references on bonding with your baby in the womb:
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
Categories: Fatherhood 101