If you thought preparing to be a father was daunting, then being a dad in the delivery room is off the charts!
Your partner is there to give birth, but what do you need to do as a dad?
You’ve gone through the pregnancy (good job), your partner is having contractions and now you are ready to rock and roll.
Here are 15 tips I wish someone gave to me before I strutted into the delivery room, expecting it to be much easier than it actually turned out to be…
15 Tips For Dads In The Labor And Delivery Room
Some of these might change depending on your situation. For instance, if you are booked in for a c section, you can skip some of these over.
Keep Your Emotions In Check
Ok, it’s a bit of a challenge to keep your emotions in check when you are going through a huge life-changing moment. Sometimes when someone (mom) is going through something much more painful, they look to us guys for assurance.
Try to walk the fine line of keeping emotions at bay, but don’t come across as cold and uncaring.
As I said, it’s a fine line!
Be Prepared To Wait
My first child was induced. He was already 2 weeks late.
Three days later, he was born.
I spent those 3 days watching mom in pain, neither of us slept, and at times it felt like we were going backward. The baby will come out eventually. Your job is to be patient.
It can be hours or even days of contractions before your partner gives birth and your baby makes an appearance.
Live In The Moment – It’s Your Big Day Too!
Don’t forget… this is a life-changing time for you too.
Be aware of everything, and stay involved.
Remember this whole thing because it will be a distant memory one day. The time to enjoy it is now.
Phones, tablets, and laptops offer distraction.
That can be a good thing for mom during the early phase of labor, but it is not good to distract you from being in the moment or being useful.
Put the tech down in the delivery room… unless you are taking pictures (ask for permission first).
Mom is going through a lot of pain and anxiety, especially if she is her first baby.
Offer support by:
- Holding her hands
- Telling her she is doing a great job
- Telling her that this is natural and her body is built for this
- Massaging her back or neck (don’t forget to ask first, don’t just dive in with a back rub)
Choose The Right Words
In the labor and delivery room, you must choose the words you say well.
Go back to the point above… offer words of encouragement.
Ultimately, you know mom better than anyone else in the labor room, so you know the kind of things she will like to hear. If mom likes laughing, try to make her laugh. If mom likes engaging in a debate, engage her in a debate. It is all about making mom comfortable and helping to distract her from the pain she is feeling during contractions.
PS – as I write this, my wife is in early labor or our second boy. Do not keep asking if there are any more signs!
You weren’t born knowing how to walk, talk, write, or drive. You had to learn all of these.
The same goes for birthing and labor. Unless you are a midwife or a medical professional, you will not know what happens in a labor and delivery unit, are you?
Ask questions about things you do not understand. If you see a midwife doing something, ask what they are doing. Ask what to look out for when there is no medical professional in the room.
Listen To Answers
…when you are the questions above, listen to the answers!
When you ask mom how she is doing and feels, listen to the response and act on it.
The more you listen, the more you will learn.
Prepare To Be Yelled At
It goes without saying. You might… actually, you probably will get yelled at!
You might get sworn at too.
You might have your hand squeezed tight during a contraction.
You still have the easy part to play in the grand scheme of things!
Grow some thick skin, just in case…
During the birth of my son, I had:
- A heavy cold
- Sore throat
- Tiredness (I had been awake for 3 days straight)
I didn’t say a word during labor. There is no need to draw attention to what you are going through.
Familiarize Yourself With The Hospital
It is best to do this ahead of time to be prepared for the big day.
If you will be in the hospital a few weeks before for a scan or a check-up, look around and get to know the key locations. Such as:
- Vending Machines
- Labor And Delivery Rooms
Know About Pain Relief
What are pain relief options?
Speak to the midwife about the kinds of pain relief that mom has the option for.
If this is a c-section, you will already have that covered, but a few more options can help your partner control pain during labor and delivery.
Understand Breathing Exercises
You can use breathing exercises to relieve pain.
Check out these breathing exercises and memorize them if you need to remind mom during the delivery and labor.
Get involved in the birth of your child.
Sure, it is mom doing the vast majority of the work, but you can also get involved.
When I say get involved in the delivery, I mean make yourself useful in the labor room, don’t just be there as a number and get in the way.
Ask your partner, and ask the midwives what you can do next and get their advice. Offer help and assistance.
Another way to participate is to give your new baby some skin-to-skin after mom. It is a great way of building a bond with your baby.
It is easy to say and not so easy to do, but you should encourage your partner through contractions, labor, and ultimately the delivery of your child.
Put yourself in the shoes of your partner. What would you want to hear? What would help you through the birth of a baby?
Being a dad in the delivery room can be tough, but it is significantly easier if you have a firm grip on what you need to do in there whilst your partner gives birth.
At first, you may feel overcome with emotions, expectations, and anxiety. The more questions you ask, the more prep you do; the longer you spend doing it, the more experienced you become.
With experience comes comfort.
This is one of the best moments of your life!
Good luck with the birth, bringing up the baby (here is a rookie guide to newborns that might help), and being an awesome father!