A Different Role for You
While being a birth coach is important, it is nonetheless secondary to the bigger job that your partner is doing. She is the one who is birthing the baby and doing the real, hard, painful work. Most men are glad not to be in that position once they see their partners going through so much agony.
Still, it points out a central fact: you are not the central player in this drama. Baby and Mom come first, and you are a distant third. This may be an unfamiliar position for you, but being a father in today's world means that you must learn and adapt to new roles for yourself.
A Supporting Role
As mentioned, you are not the lead actor in this drama; your partner and baby are. The job of a supporting actor is just that—to support the lead players. Your job is essentially to make the star of the show—the mother of your child—feel good and keep her performing. If you do that, you will be doing your job. And there is great satisfaction in this.
In the later months of pregnancy, you will take childbirth preparation classes. These classes focus principally on Mom. As her coach, you are there to learn techniques to support her, both physically and emotionally, when she goes into labor. Again, while this is a valuable role to play, it is still a supporting one.
An Advisory Role
One of the vital roles that a man plays during pregnancy, and especially during childbirth, is that of advisor. You are going to advise your partner on lots of issues. Some advice she will heed; some of it she will ignore. So it goes.
Ultimately, though, your partner will make the final call, not you. Most men accept this and have no problem with it. They trust her instincts, especially in matters concerning her own body, and are willing to play second fiddle in this regard.
A Decision-Making Role
In the throes of labor, however, a woman may be unable to make decisions for herself. She may be out of her mind with pain. That is where you sometimes have to step in, assess the situation based on the advice of doctors, nurses, and others, and make tough, on-the-spot decisions.
These decisions affect not only you, but your partner and your baby, too. Whatever role you happen to be playing at any given moment, when you make a decision, you will now have to consider its impact on your family. Get used to it. That is what it means to be a father.
The responsibility for making decisions during labor and delivery never falls solely on the shoulders of the birth coach. Physicians, nurses, and the nurse-midwife provide counsel and can and will intervene if necessary. A friend or a member of your partner's family may be present as well. You can also hire a professional labor assistant to give advice.