While you may think mom does all of the work during delivery, dad plays a vital role in ensuring a smooth, stress-free delivery and can make all of the difference in how it goes. Here are 6 labor and delivery tips for dads to help make the big day run smoothly.
1. Educate yourself about the delivery
Don’t be caught off guard by the medical lingo you hear the doctors and nurses discuss regarding your wife and baby. Take the time during pregnancy to read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, etc. that are educational and helpful about the process of labor. Understand the various procedures that will or could happen, and as much terminology as you can. Look up things about your doctor or the doctors who could be on call, what their experience is and what they believe. Some doctors will list articles they’ve published about natural labor, or the importance of skin-to-skin, or the avoidance of the use of forceps. Knowing what’s important to your doctor and what they’re areas of expertise are can help you in your interactions with them and the decision-making process.
2. Pack yourself a bag
Of course make sure your wife has a hospital bag packed with everything she and the baby will need, but you’re going to be spending a lot of time there, too. Don’t get stuck greeting visitors with stinky breath from not having a toothbrush, or worrying about your BO rubbing off on the baby when you hold him/her. Have your own bag packed ahead of time with all of the essentials you’ll need for at least 2 days in the hospital. Hopefully you’ll be able to get out of there on time and with no complications, but 2 days should get you through until you can leave or can ask someone else to pick up anything else you’d need.
3. Take charge of communications
On that note, you’ll want to announce the baby’s birth when he/she is born, but probably want to avoid your phone’s ringing off the hook during that precious time. Allow mom the chance to bond and recover peacefully by taking charge of all communications. Set up a phone tree where you’ll call 1 or 2 people, and then they will make calls or announcements according to your wishes. Make sure your wife is feeling up to visitors before people are allowed in the room, and basically be a buffer between the rest of the world, your wife and new baby. There is no feeling like holding your brand new baby in your arms for the first time. Savor that feeling and moment as much as you can before letting the rest of the world in.
4. Learn relaxation techniques for yourself and mom
Labor can take a while, and result in long stretches of discomfort and uneasiness. Waiting for test results or progress in the labor can be stressful, but it’s extremely important that you handle this stress constructively. Learn breathing techniques, learn how to relax your muscles, learn how to slow your heart rate, and learn how to coach your wife to relax. There are recordings you can find that can help you relax, and don’t hesitate to use them. Clear minds make rational decisions, and this a time when you need a clear mind.
5. Be strong
You may have to make some tough decisions. Sometimes emergency C-sections happen. Sometimes when the baby is born, he/she needs immediate care and is taken away right after delivery. Doctors will still be focusing on your wife and ensuring her body is taken care of, so that leaves a lot of wondering what you should do. In these situations, it’s important for you to keep your composure. Difficult decisions may need to be made, and they will likely fall on your shoulders. Keep perspective and a level head to make decisions in the best interest of your family, keeping in mind your wife’s wishes if she is unable to be a part of the decision-making process.
6. Love her unconditionally
This may seem obvious, but hear me out. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery cause huge changes in the body not only physically, but emotionally as well. Hormones necessary to help her and the baby’s body grow and develop normally can take a while to go back to normal, and can result in actions and emotions from your wife that you don’t recognize. Realize that her words and behavior are largely influenced by hormones and body chemistry, and while she may even get easily frustrated or take out her stress on you, remember to love her, “through sickness and health,” and that this is the time she needs you the most. Be strong for her. Talk calmly; don’t let yourself get caught up in the emotions. When one of you is weak, the other must be strong. Continue being kind, continue serving her, and try to meet her needs. This time will pass and things will change, but your life for each other should not.