In the United States, Father's Day is traditionally celebrated on the third Sunday in June, which is just a few days away. I thought I might highlight some very successful specialized classes that are designed to increase confidence for fathers as they prepare to support the birthing person in labor and then go on to parent a newborn.
Both of these classes do not have any pregnant people attending. SupportingHer - Childbirth Class for the Other Half is taught by Alice Turner, LCCE, and current Lamaze Board Member and her colleagues is available as an in-person class and online. This class is geared toward being the best labor support possible. Conscious Fathering - taught by Jessup Coffin and others, is a specialized class offered by Parent Trust for Washington Children with the intention of preparing fathers for the early days of parenting a newborn. Note: both of these classes are open to and designated for people who are supporting pregnant people and filling the "father" role, partners of either gender are welcome to attend. The material is presented with the assumption of a male person supporting a female who is pregnant.
I asked Alice and Jessup some questions about these popular specialized classes that seemed to be filling a unique niche for expectant and new fathers in their communities.
Sharon Muza: Why is this type of class geared for fathers important?
Jessup Coffin: Fathering focused classes are important as most childbirth education is heavily pregnant parent leaning. The instructors are women, many of the care providers are women, and content in classes is very much from the feminine point of view. This does not always connect well with male partners. It seems that many fathers these days are very interested in being a part of both the birth and infancy. By providing them concrete tools that they can utilize to support their pregnant partner, they feel more involved, and like they are directly contributing to the well being of their family.
Alice Turner: This type of class is important because fathers are often a member of the birth team and every member of the birth team bring value! These classes speak directly to the role of the support person. They give practical tips, techniques, and strategies for that role. Sometimes in a traditional group class, the focus is only on the person giving birth. The experience is told from the birthing person's perspective and not from that of the partner.
SM: What is the feedback from participants after they take your class?
JC: This is a favorite class of many and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Fathers share that stories of real-life experiences and hands-on activities were very helpful. They tell me that the emphasis strictly on fathers was refreshing and much needed. The participants feel that they learned a lot of valuable skills and knowledge that will be very practical.
AT: Participants appreciate having "go to" ideas about what they should do during the labor and birth process. They really like the information about how it is important to take care of themselves and get an idea about how they should do that.
SM: Why do you enjoy teaching such a specialized class?
JC: I have found that the guys that attend the class are thirsty for information that they can digest which will give them direct tools they can utilize once their child is born. Society has pushed the partner into focus as a target to facilitate support for the pregnant person.
AT: I love teaching fathers because they really want to be helpful and "do the right thing", but they often don't really know what the "right thing is". I have witnessed the huge change in a father's confidence in their role by just teaching them just a few simple strategies! A confident and prepared partner provides better support and everyone wins! Fathers tell me that there is enough to worry about whether you’ve been through this process or not. When you can remove some of the question marks with regard to the childbirth process, it makes it a less stressful situation for all.
Do you or others in your community offer classes that are customized for the parents of expectant people? What are the learning objectives? How are they received? If you are a childbirth educator who is looking to expand your offerings and reach a segment of the population that is often treated as an afterthought, consider creating a specialized class geared for partners or fathers. These fun and informative classes are an important part of a family's preparation for birth and parenting.