Fathers, Co-Parents and Birth Partners

My papa and me cuttin’ up

My papa and me cuttin’ up

I shared this video celebrating fathers on Facebook this week, and what a lovely video it is (I’m not crying! You’re crying!). But, I would also like to affirm that not all co-parents and birth partners are fathers. That being said, I wanted to take a few minutes today to reflect on the importance of these folks in the birth and postpartum process.

These incredible people carry so much on their shoulders, sometimes too much. With the culture shift of allowing and encouraging partners to be present in the room during birth, a lot of responsibility was placed on them. We expect partners to be the sole emotional and physical support for birthing people, and that’s a lot to ask, especially when most people have no experience with birth before the birth of their own children! And the responsibility extends to the postpartum period as well, with partners often going back to work sooner and taking on more household tasks while still processing the tremendous emotional upheaval of having a baby.

So what does that mean? It means partners deserve love and support and gentleness too. You are doing immense amounts of work. Make sure you have someone (or a few someones) to look out for you! Make sure (or, better yet, have someone else make sure) you’re eating and drinking and taking breaks during labor and during the postpartum period (the transformational power of a shower is real!). You want to be at your best as you help your birthing partner and meet your new babe. And there’s no need to undervalue your experience of becoming a parent. Just because you did not physically give birth does not mean it wasn’t emotional or scary or ecstatic or exhausting for you too! Feel, express and share your emotions if you feel up to it. And if you are a person supporting a family birthing, make sure you validate the partner or co-parents feelings as well. It’s not just the birth of baby, it’s the birth of a new family!

Keep up the wonderful, strong work, you amazing parents, papas and partners! I see you! We see you!

Maggie Mehr