Your partner is in excruciating pain. She is sweating, groaning, and squeezing your hand harder than you can believe possible. You’re telling her that she’s doing great, that you’re proud of her – but it is not working, and she’s just rolling her eyes. She’s miserable, and she’s not being very nice to you, to make matters worse. And it almost seems like it’s your fault, and she’s mad at you. You stand there and think, “What should I do?”
Dads play a crucial role, especially during labor and delivery. When mom is in labor, dads may feel overwhelmed and clueless about what to do and how to best help and support their partners at this particular time. So, what are the things dads should especially know during labor and delivery?
Here are some real-life tips and tricks that dads have shared:
- Labor can take ages, and it’s incredibly draining for the mom that you might not recognize your wife at times. No matter how erratic her emotions seem or how to mean she might get, just try to be 101% supportive and give her whatever she needs within reason. Know that her erratic emotions are temporary and nothing personal.
- Postpartum recovery can be pretty brutal, both physically and emotionally. Your partner will need your utmost patience and support more than ever. You and your partner may know what to expect with the birth, but you may be completely unprepared for how hard postpartum recovery can be.
- Try and stay tuned to things that could make things harder, like having too many visitors. You can also ask her directly what support she needs. Be that guy if she needs you to be the bad guy and tell people not to come yet or wait a little longer.
- Support her when it comes to feeding your newborn. If she chooses not to breastfeed, she may still have milk coming out regardless or be extremely swollen. Be involved and don’t hesitate to talk to experts about these scenarios.
- Look for signs of postpartum depression or anxiety. She’s dealing a lot and barely sleeping. Here’s an article about supporting your partner through postpartum depression
- Plans change. If you and your partner already have a birth plan, be prepared for surprises. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Make sure to calmly and firmly advocate for your partner. Make sure every option, any intervention, including risks and benefits, is explained.
- Try and bring the comforts of your home. You can get your own pillow, delivery gown, and a couple of robes. It will be so much better than hospital linen. Also, bring your own soap and shampoo to get that relaxing sensory experience.
- If you can, and if she allows you to, help her with her first shower after delivery. There may be blood and fluids, but it can be an intimate time, and she may need help and comfort.
- Make sure you and your partner are fed and hydrated. You may not want to, but you may pass out. Plan what to do if this happens. At the very least, sit down with your head between your knees and try to excuse yourself from the room.
- Do not say “eww” or “gross” or related words. Nor tell them that they pooped during the process. Do not tell them how tired or bored you are, and avoid complaining.
- If your partner ever needs to have a C-section, they will wheel her out of the room and leave you for a few minutes while they prepare her. They will come and get you in time.
- She may shake after birth, especially when the epidural is wearing off. It can be uncontrollable or violent at times. Don’t hesitate to call for help if you’re worried about it.
Remember that everything that happens from that first contraction will be about your partner. It’s perfectly ok to feel overwhelmed and confused, but try your best to be present during this moment when your partner greatly needs you.
Just because you’re asking for advice and reading this article shows that you are healthily doing things and want to be the best partner and dad. Keep in mind to trust your gut as well as your wife’s. Prepare yourself, get in the moment and be there to help and support your partner in the best possible way.