Tips for Dad During Labor and Delivery
Much of the discussion surrounding pregnancy focuses on the woman who’s currently with child. While this should be the case – after all, she’s the one undergoing all those body changes and prepping for the miracle that is delivery – we’re taking a moment to help another big player in this scenario. Yep, we’re talking about you, Dad and, specifically, offering advice for once Mom goes into labor. This advice will help both parties and will enable a more seamless and loving birthing experience.
Be Flexible and Reassuring
You and your partner might have prepared an elaborate birth plan, such as a natural water birth with a doula, or envisioned that picture-perfect delivery moment when baby comes out squealing and squirming. While that may happen, you should also be prepared for things to not go as planned, and comfort Mom if she’s feeling upset about hiccups and last-minute audibles.
“Let your wife know that no matter what happens, you will never be disappointed in her, and she shouldn’t be disappointed in herself,” advises Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a licensed clinical professional counselor and a certified Imago Relationship Therapist. “Whether she needs an unplanned epidural or a C-section, make sure your wife knows that she isn’t a failure. Ideals are nice but remember that ultimately, a healthy baby and a healthy mommy are what are most important.”
Be Fully Prepared
The more prepared you are prior to delivery, the better things will go for everyone involved. Start by helping Mom pack a hospital bag, and pack one for yourself, while you’re at it. You can also take a moment to look over the hospital layout, round up important phone numbers, and create a game-plan that includes getting to the hospital and handing off any responsibilities (pet sitting, house watching, etc.).
Additionally, if you have the time you should familiarize yourself with what happens during labor and delivery.
“You don’t need to know the entire anatomy and physiology of childbirth, but you should be able to identify the signs of the different stages of labor,” advises Slatkin. “If you recognize the signs of the different stages of labor, you will be the best possible help for your wife. You will know when you should talk to her, when she will be most likely to accept your help, and when she might benefit from changes of activity. This knowledge will be good for you as well; you don’t want to be standing around helplessly while your wife is going through labor. Brush up on your knowledge so that you won’t be.”
Nurture and Comfort
Mom’s going to be pretty immobile during and after her delivery, so be as attentive and nurturing as possible. The nurses will help with this, but having you – her partner – make the effort to go above and beyond will ensure a happier labor. It will also strengthen your relationship. Continue this throughout the delivery and post-delivery, as well. Bonus points if you keep it up for the rest of your lives together. (wink wink.)
“Help position mom and baby with pillows for breastfeeding, make sure your partner is eating enough and drinking enough water, and keep snacks and drinks within reach,” suggests Aubrey Richardson, a registered nurse at NYU Langone Medical Center on the mother baby floor. “Partners can also be the liaison between family members, as the whole world wants to show up to see baby, it seems. It is important for the new mom to rest no matter what kind of delivery she had.”
Practice Your Own Self Care
Labor is exhausting for Mom, of course, but it’s exhausting in its own way for you, too. For that reason, make sure you’re eating well, drinking enough water, and getting rest, as well. Even stepping out of the labor room briefly – ideally when Mom is resting, herself – can help you reset and recharge.
“It is important to recognize that soon-to-be-dads need to practice self-care during this process,” notes Dr. Kameelah Phillips, a NYC-based OBGYN. “This includes eating outside of the labor room (unless you have your partner’s permission), stretching, fresh air, and bathroom breaks. Stepping away for short periods of time will help you calm your nerves and build your mental and physical reserves to be the best support person you can be.”
Wendy Rose Gould is a writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She covers women’s lifestyle topics for numerous digital publications, including InStyle, xoVain, Refinery29, Revelist, PopSugar and ModCloth. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram or at WendyGould.com