Alright Mama, you know that I'm all about you and what you need, but this week's post is all about Dad. I'm going to guess that your hubby desperately needs a “Dad's guide to labor and delivery” because when their wives are pregnant (or worse, IN LABOR!) men get nervous, overwhelmed, and can freeze under pressure. Why? Because they are often times clueless when it comes to childbirth.
Because of this, I want to do YOU a favor by providing your men with a Dad's Guide To Labor and Delivery. I'm going to provide all the tips they need in order to be the best coach and supporter that he can be. Call him over and read this post together!
We've got to be honest with ourselves, guys, Moms do ALL OF THE WORK when it comes to giving life.
Guess what? It's dad's turn.
But what's a guy to do? You're at a loss, right? How could you possibly help her as she conquers the most difficult challenge of her life so far? Thank goodness you're here, Dad, because I'm about to tell you some great tips for dads in the delivery room.
Oh by the way, when you're finished reading this post, make sure you check out what not to do when your wife is in labor.
Dads Have Purpose In Labor Too
As the father of this baby, you are an essential piece of this labor experience. You are her best friend, her supporter, her protector, and her coach.
The truth is, you're not going to have one single contraction and your private parts are (almost) guaranteed to remain intact throughout this whole process. Nonetheless, you do have a big job to do. Your job, Dad, is to support the mother that is bearing your child. *mind blown*
You're wife fell in love with you for many reasons, I'm sure. If you focus on those reasons and make sure you magnify them while your wife is in labor, you will be exactly what she needs you to be.
1. You're Supportive
Be there for her
The obvious way that you are going to support the mother of your child is by being there. Be present in every way possible.
Be in the room with her the entire time that she needs you to be. Just make sure you let her know that you are there and you're not going anywhere. Nothing in the world is more important right now than being by her side.
Labor is hard work. There aren't many women that at some point don't say out loud “I can't do this”. That's not to say that she actually can't. She CAN DO THIS. And you know it, don't you? You're job is to motivate her. “You can do this, babe, you are so strong!” or “You are doing it, honey, you're so incredible!” are fantastic ways to let your woman know that she is doing a great job.
Respect Her Decisions
You don't always have to agree with the decisions she's making, but you have to respect them. Mom is the one making the rules right now and there isn't much that's up to you.
I understand that for some women the birth plan is a HUGE factor…before actual birth. Maybe your wife told you to swear on your mother's uncle that you would never, ever let her get an epidural no matter what. But then, labor happens and she's 6 cm begging for an epidural. What are you supposed to do? You're supposed to ask the nurse for an epidural.
You are not birth-plan police. You job isn't to tell her what she can and can't have. She is an educated and perfectly capable adult who can make her own decisions. Yes, she thought labor was going to go one way but now it's been 18 hours and she's exhausted. Let her make the decision to endure pain or not.
Stop Telling Her What To Do
I know it's uncomfortable to see the person you love suffering or in pain. It's no fun for you. But remember guys, it's not about you. If your wife is moaning and groaning and YOU can't take it anymore, that does not mean that SHE can't take it anymore. Moaning and groaning is a part of normal labor. Let her be. Don't tell her she needs pain medication if that's not what she wants.
- Related Read: Dads In The Delivery Room – What NOT To Do
Advocate For Her
Ok, it's getting a little complicated. Pay attention. I did just tell you to stop telling her what to do, but on the same token, make suggestions based on what you're seeing and hearing.
If your wife is completely out of control, exerting all of her energy, and in so much pain and not tolerating labor at all (aka what not to do in labor), let her know that its okay if she get's something to relieve her pain. Remind her that she's not “giving up” or “failing” if that's what she's worried about.
If she's holding her breath and tensing her body, gently remind her to relax her muscles and take some slow, deep breathes to nourish her body and her baby. Help her realize that you are there for her in ways that she never expected you to be.
2. Her Comfort Is Your Priority
Give Her A Massage
This might not be the same type of massage you're used to, but it's important. In early labor, a gentle back rub or foot massage might be what she needs. In active labor it's a whole other ball game. Counter pressure on mom's back or hips during a contraction can be the most effective means of relief for a mother who's going naturally at the time.
Listen To Her Cues
Sometimes Dad feels like he's the best husband ever because he's giving the best massage he's ever given and then, to his dismay, his wife yells at him to stop touching her. It happens. You're not alone. Things change throughout the labor process and your wife's needs will change. If she wants you to put harder counter pressure, do it until your arms fall off. If she wants you to stop touching her at all costs, then stop touching her.
Create The Environment She Needs
Her nurses are there to help in every way that they can but some things are going to be in your control. You have complete control over the environment and this is your chance to forget about your needs and think about what is best for your wife. If the lights are bright, dim them. Is the TV is distracting? Turn it off. If the room starts to get stuffy (or smelly), get her essential oil diffuser going. If its 60 degrees in the room and you're feeling like you're in an ice box but she's still complaining that it's hot in here, make the room cooler. She's going to really appreciate you taking control in making her as comfortable as possible. Brownie points!
3. You're Smart (and well informed)
Participate In The Labor Class
There are so many ways to educate yourself and prepare for labor but most of the time the moms are the ones paying attention. Don't be the guy that let's every piece of labor information he hears go in one ear and out the other. You are a team mate in this game. It is your responsibility to know what to expect and understand a little bit about what is going on. Being well informed can help you and your wife to feel equipped and capable to handle anything that comes your way.
Remember What She Told You
Don't wait until your partner is bent over the labor bed mid contraction to figure out what you can do for her. Have the conversation early. Find out what she wants and what she thinks she'll need ahead of time.
When she goes over the birth plan with you and explains where everything is in her strategically-packed hospital bag, pay attention. She's telling you these things so that you can help her in her time of need. Trust me when I say that she will ask you for something out of her bag and expect you to know exactly where it is. Don't let her down.
Be Her Voice When She Needs You To Be
Even the most type A woman will need you to speak for her when she's in active labor and can hardly catch her breath. Make sure you are familiar with her wants and desires regarding childbirth and be willing to speak up when your nurse asks.
Now is not the time to be shy or quiet. It's the worst when I ask mom a question and she can't answer so we sit in silence for 2 minutes waiting for an answer that Dad could have easily given. Like I said before, you guys are a team. She is trusting you to communicate her wishes for her when she can't do it herself.
4. You're Patient
Expect Labor To Be Long
Labor is not what you see in the movies, especially for the first time mom. Early labor can last for days (literally, DAYS), active labor can last for many hours, and pushing can last for up to around 3 hours. All of this is normal and should be expected. If it goes quicker for you- great! You're one of the lucky ones!
Get out of the mindset of “How long is this going to take?” Get your head in the game and make sure you understand that there is nothing that deserves your full attention more than your partner right now.
5. You're Considerate
Make It All About Her
If she asks you to do something, make it a point to do it without complaint or withholding. Remember that she has a lot going on making her very uncomfortable. Don't be surprised if she get's frustrated or annoyed with you even when you're doing your best. Don't take it personally. Put her needs before your own. She deserves it while she's birthing your child.
6. You're Helpful
Be The Muscle
Instead of staying in your seat every time the nurse comes in to check, turn, or help your wife in some way, get up and put those muscle to use. If your wife is weak or has an epidural, she's going to need you to get in there and help her stuff pillows behind her or lift her dead legs.
Sometimes your wife might need to put her body weight on you and it's your job to support her. Often times, dancing or swaying back and forth can bring comfort to her during active labor. Wear some comfy shoes because this might take a while.
Help Her During Pushing
Step up and make sure that you are an active participant in your child's birth. Even if you “don't want to see”, make sure that when it comes time to push that you are right there by her side, encouraging her, counting with her during pushing, motivating her, holding her leg back, and encouraging her to take cleansing breaths between pushes. Tell her she's doing it! Remind her that her efforts aren't for nothing. Tell her that you're proud of the hard work that she's doing.
Ask What she Needs
If you can't figure out what she needs or you're worried that you're not doing the right things, always ask. At some point, she might want you to be quiet and not say a word. In those moments that's what she needs from you and you should try to understand that. At other times, if she needs you to distract her with humor or music, do your best to support her in that way.
Explain Things To Her
Your partner has been explaining things to you for nine months and now it's your turn. Often, moms are distracted by labor and pain that they can't focus on what their health care team is telling them. Sometimes she just needs someone she trusts to translate what we say into words that she understands. That's where you come in. Make sure you are paying attention to what the nurse, midwife, and doctors are saying so that if your wife has questions, you can help her out.
Dad's Guide To Labor and Delivery -Just Be You
The two of you are having a baby together. She wants to know that you are there for her, you love her, and that you respect what she's doing for your family. She needs to hear you tell her that you love her, that she is the most beautiful and amazing woman you have ever laid your eyes on, and that you've never adored her more than you do in this moment.
This woman is giving you the child you've been dreaming about for nine months or more. Show her the love and appreciation that she deserves, and you'll be doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Good luck. You'll do great. Congratulations, Daddy!
Now that you know what you should be doing, find out what you shouldn't be doing when you're wife is in labor by reading this essential post.
Let me know what you (or your husband) did during labor that really helped! These are my favorite stories! I feel like Dads can seriously make or break a labor experience. Tell me about yours in the comments!
What To Read Next:
- Dads In The Delivery Room – What NOT To Do
- Qualities of A Good Father Before The Baby is Even Born
- The Best Way To Make Your Birth Plan Your Reality
- The Ultimate Guide To Packing Your Hospital Bag: What To Bring When You’re Having A Baby
- How To Manage Visitors In The Hospital When You’re Having A Baby
- 8 Things Your Labor and Delivery Nurse Wants You To Know About Having A Hospital Delivery
- 13 Of The Absolute Best Pregnancy Tips For First Time Moms
- 16 Indispensable Pregnancy and Labor Tips from A Labor and Delivery Nurse
- 17 Natural Ways To Induce Labor Yourself