Congratulations! YOU are going to be a DAD! Nervous, excited, panicked? One of my many favorite parts of my job is to observe the interactions between the Daddy-to-be and the Mommy-to-be during this intense, life altering moment. As you can imagine, it’s somewhat entertaining and some scenes are definitely Oscar-Award-worthy with the action, drama, blood, love, and all! It is also extremely honorable to witness the array of emotions in the room from excitement, to exhaustion, and to overwhelming tear-jerking joy. The man has an integral role in the labor and delivery room that no one can replace. The laboring women needs you and how you support her through this labor can make all the difference.
1. Be Patient.
The most common question I get from the significant other is, “How long is this going to take?” For a first time laboring woman, her cervix should be dilating at least half of a cm per hour (See my post Dilation and Effacement for more details). For the woman to have a full term baby vaginally, her cervix will need to be dilated to 10cm. So know this process does take some time! For the men whose lady is planning on having a C-Section see 13 Commonly Asked Questions Regarding C-Sections to help you prepare.
2. Take Care of Yourself and Know Your Limits.
Not only will she be laboring but you will be put to work too, even more so if she is going naturally. Have some snacks and make sure you are rested. But no strong smelling foods near the patient, as that is just rude when they are sometimes not allowed to eat! Also, do not be napping while she is in immense pain or pushing. And if you know you do not do well with the sight of blood, have a chair near and stay by her upper body… where things aren’t bleeding!
3.Give Her Your Attention and Encouragement.
Do not stay glued to your phone or electronic devices. Do not bring up past stories of when you were in the hospital and in as much pain or more as the laboring woman. Instead, focus on her. Turn her negatives into positives such as when she says, “I can’t do this” say “You can do this and you are doing this!” Use the golden words of: “You are so close,” “I am so excited to see our baby,” “Thank you for bringing this baby into the world,” “You’re amazing,” “Each contraction brings you closer to the end,” and “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
4.Do Not Tell The Laboring Woman to Not Take Any Pain Medication.
Instead, support your partner as long as they are educated decisions.
5. Ask Her What You Can Do For Her, Listen, and Do It.
It may come to a point where nothing you do seems to help. It can be difficult to watch a loved one go through so much pain; do not feel hopeless. Sometimes just the woman knowing you are present and attentive is enough for her.
6. Give Massages.
Scan the woman head to toe and notice where she is tensing up. If her hands are clenched, offer a hand massage. Body massages with long strokes downwards will actually help oxygenate the muscles and allow the uterus to work more efficiently. Laboring women tend to enjoy massages on the back, shoulders, and thighs. Epidurals usually take the edge off the labor if thats what your lady decides but sometimes she will still have “hot spots.” Although uncommon, these are areas where the woman still feels pain. Thus, women with epidurals also may still benefit greatly from massages too… just make sure they can feel where you are massaging!
7. Do Not Take Offense and Do Not Take It Personal.
At some point the women may ask… or shout that they do not want to be touched or they may tell you to just be quiet. Instead, understand that the women’s body may be at the point where it is just too sensitive for any stimulation. She also may say or do things because she is in an immense amount of pain or is on medication that makes her a little loopy.
8. Be Her Support… Literally.
Sometimes laboring moms find it comfortable to lean on their significant other for weight support. She also may find comfort in dancing with you by swaying back and forth. If she has an epidural, help the nurse to change the laboring patient’s positions frequently from side to side, as this will help the baby to move down.
9. Know What To Expect.
Labor is messy, there is definitely blood, amniotic fluid, and quite probably urine and feces that you may see. This is all natural and part of the process, no need to be embarrassed for your significant other. Some other things you should be prepared for is the involuntarily shaking/shivering. This is sometimes due from the anesthesia or from the hormones released by her body. You may hear your significant other making moaning or crying sounds, this is normal. Do not tell the laboring patient to stop making these sounds and again, no need to be embarrassed.
10.Let Her Know She is Beautiful.
After it is all over, remind her of her beauty and strength. Help her to feel pretty again by looking at her straight in the eyes and sincerely complimenting her. Hold her, kiss her, and acknowledge her for her 10 month sacrifice and hard work of bringing your baby into this world.
Lastly, Enjoy every bit of your prize!
Let me know how it goes! Or if you have any more ideas, please post below!