Even though I had done a ton of reading, viewing, and other research on pregnancy and birth before getting pregnant with my son, I knew it was important to me that my partner and I attend birthing classes to get ready for the big day. I'd heard from family members and other moms that the way their partners acted while they gave birth had either helped bring them closer together, or in a few cases, led to lifelong resentment. Fortunately for me, my partner did all the things every good dad does when attending birthing classes and, as a result, was a stellar birth partner when it came time for me to actually bring our son into the world.
What my husband needed to be a great birth partner were, thankfully, already part of who he was as human being: a caring, attentive person who knows how to be supportive when he's needed. Still, after a lifetime of miseducation about what birth is really like, most people (straight, cisgender men very much included) need accurate, non-sensationalized information about what to expect during labor so they don't freak out unnecessarily and do things that can make birth less comfortable or more dangerous. Our Bradley class helped both of us know what to look out for as labor progressed, and assisted my partner in learning concrete ways he could be helpful so that on the day of, when I would be increasingly less able to think about anything other than how intense my contractions were, he'd have some frame of reference for what is going on as well as ideas of what to do to help me as I labored.
Though we went in hoping for more information about birth, our class experience actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of my pregnancy. We learned a ton of really useful, practical information that made labor and birth feel way less scary and much more approachable, and it was a dedicated few hours a week where instead of having to worry about work and everything else, we got to just focus on the fact that our baby was actually coming. Plus, watching my husband get excited about knowing all the answers was so adorable and endearing (and reassuring), and reminded me of how lucky I am to get to have a baby with such an awesome person, and my best friend. Good dads know that one of the most important parts of this whole experience is ensuring that their partner knows they're as all in on this birth thing as she is. That's why they make sure to do the following:
He Actually Attends The Classes
This should be obvious, but it's not always the case. Now, admittedly, it can be harder for men to get time off of work for things like doctor visits, which is a frustrating and sexist shame because dads should get to participate in these things, too (and support their partners). But birthing classes are often offered at a variety of times, precisely so that people can have more flexibility to choose ones that fit into all the relevant people’s schedules. So if mom decides this is important, good dads know they need to make time for it.
He Follows His Partner’s Lead
Good dads know that when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, it's not about them. In this process, they are there to give support and encouragement, so that's what they do in birthing class, too. Also? They don't mansplain stuff to their partners or classmates, because they don't want to be "that guy" who's "well, actually"-ing everyone else's questions or blathering on and on about his thoughts on modern birth or whatever. Everybody hates "that guy," and for good reason.
He Pays Attention
It's not enough to just be physically present in the room. The whole point is to actually learn things that will make it possible to be a better birth partner on the big day, so paying attention is a must.
He May Make A Few Dad Jokes...
Because of course. There is plenty of fodder for so-bad-they're-good puns and other classic dad joke fare during birthing class. Just, no jokes about really scary or upsetting stuff, please.
...But He Also Conveys That He Takes This Seriously
By being there on time, being alert, taking notes, and keeping up with his partner, good dads show they care about the subject at hand: the health and well-being of their beloved partner and future child, during one of the most vulnerable and amazing moments in their lives.
He Doesn't Act Grossed Out
Because he's a grown-ass man who (most likely) helped get a baby into someone, a good dad knows better than to act like a fool over how they come out of someone. Even if some of the messier details throw him for a loop, he keeps that to himself like any decent grown-up would do.
He Makes Sure His Partner Is Comfortable
Especially in longer and/or more hands-on classes, good dads make sure their pregnant partner is comfortable, has a good place to sit, enough to eat and drink, and a clear path to the nearest bathroom, 'cause pregnant people always have to pee and/or puke and/or both.
He Does His Homework
My birth class homework often included practicing massages and other comfort techniques a few times a week. I'm not normally a huge proponent of homework, but this particular homework struck me as very important, so we made sure it got done.
Seriously, the goal of taking birthing classes is to be as prepared as possible for birth, and for them to be the best possible birth partner they can be. If there's homework or any other things to be done outside of class, good dads are all over it.
He Asks Thoughtful Questions
Unfortunately, many health and sex-ed classes leave a lot to be desired, so it's likely there will be plenty of stuff that comes up in a birthing class that will be brand-new to expecting moms and dads alike. Good dads don't want to misunderstand something that could affect their partner or child on the big day, so they ask questions to make sure they know what's up.
He Stays Involved
Good dads wouldn't be caught dead being that dude who walks into class looking like his partner is marching him off to the gallows, like he'd rather be anywhere but there. They're also not playing on their phones or otherwise checking out during birthing classes. They understand that they need to be fully present when their partner is giving birth, so they need to be fully present while learning about birth and how to be a good birth partner.