The days when an expectant father’s role extended to pacing up and down the hospital corridor smoking a cigar are, thankfully, over.
Today’s dads want to be involved with their children’s births and babyhood. The question they often ask is: how can I do more?
Obviously, biologically women have the lion’s share (or should that be lioness’s share) of the work to do in pregnancy and birth. They have the hormonal, physical and psychological changes, and they may also be breastfeeding their child for several months to come. So men can feel like a spare part.
The Expectant Dad’s Handbook explains the science behind how having an involved father can improve a child’s prospects. The book also offers practical solutions and ideas about how to support your partner during pregnancy and birth.
Many textbooks offer advice such as making sure that the car has enough fuel around your partner’s due date, and getting to know alternative routes to the hospital. What sets this book apart is the thoughtfulness of some of the advice, including how a father might act as an advocate for his partner when she is in the delivery room. Sometimes it can be easy to be railroaded into unwanted interventions by medical staff. Beaumont takes care to explain to his readers that a crucial role of the father to be in the birth process is making sure that his partner is getting the medical treatment that she wants in labour.
There are many pregnancy books that have a small section for dads, but very few that are devoted entirely to the person who should eventually be doing 50% of the parenting in a family. Of the father focussed books that are out there already, many are too blokey. In putting this book together, Dean Beaumont has resisted the impulse to be too laddish, although the occasional football metaphor sneaks in.
Some readers might find the way that Beaumont ends every other sentence with an explanation mark and refers to the mothers and babies in his book as Mum and Baby a little bit irritating. However, as you get further into the book the style will wash over you and you will get drawn into the useful advice and insights.
Perhaps the most perceptive comment Beaumont makes is the reference to what he calls man’s “fix-it” reflex – that male response to try to “fix” everything when in fact nature just needs to take its course. For example, during labour, persuading your partner to change positions may not help – she may just want to breathe through them and yell a bit.
Likewise, a sore pregnant lady may just want to talk about her fears about the labour, rather than suffer a lecture from her partner that has been hastily googled!
Dean Beaumont is a professional antenatal educator and gives DaddyNatal classes, with a team of other dads across the country. The dads who have read this book or attended his classes will be well prepared, and their wives and children well supported.