Women choosing to get an epidural are so often made to fear the moment that "big, scary" needle comes into play. As someone who has had two epidurals in my life, I feel like the fear mongering is completely unnecessary. A pregnant woman's friends, family, and especially their partner should be supporting her decision to get one, rather than terrifying her. Even though they're not the ones pushing a human out of their body, there are things every grown-ass man can do while his partner is getting an epidural that can put her at ease and make her feel supported, rather than scared or worried or apprehensive.
I've spent the better part of my adult life working in the medical field and, as a result, have witnessed the phenomenon that is needle phobias on multiple (hundreds) of occasions. Needles have never bothered me, personally, so when I got my epidural I wasn't worried in the least bit. That was, of course, until I saw my partners face when the anesthesiologist showed up with that needle. I had no idea that he had a fear of needles, but his wide eyes as the doctor prepped my back caused me to question my decision and made me feel like maybe an epidural was a bigger deal than I had previously thought.
To make a long story short, it wasn't. My epidurals were easy and if I had to go through another labor and delivery, I would definitely get another epidural. I don't regret getting an epidural one bit, but I do regret the momentary fear that hit me after my partner's palms started sweating while he was in the same room as a needle. I mean, come on. So, for the sake of other grown-ass men who might be in a similar position soon, I've compiled a list of how they should conduct themselves while their partner prepares for their epidural and, in turn, the moment they bring their baby into the world.
He Doesn't Freak Out When He Sees The Needle
I get that people are afraid of needles, but, in my opinion, pushing a human out of your vagina and/or having one surgically removed from your abdomen merits a little more fear than a needle, especially for, you know, the person who is birthing a child. If your partner is afraid of needles, fine, but he needs to practice meditation or hypnosis or some sort of therapy that will calm his nerves before you get your epidural because, again, he's not the one having it inserted into his spine. Freaking out is not helpful, gentlemen.
He Doesn't Get Queazy
If he can't control his fear, I get that. After all, I'm not one to police someone else's emotions and fear certainly is a powerful one. However, he needs to be able to control his gag reflex and not black out in the middle of you getting your epidural. Hold it together, dude!
If He Can't Get Over It, He Doesn't Make A Big Deal Out Of It
The second time around, my partner had either come to terms with his fear of needles or he just did a really go job of hiding it. He didn't make a big deal about it during the birth of our second child, and his cold sweats and wide eyes were nowhere to be found when the anesthesiologist entered our room. Thank goodness.
He Lets His Partner Squeeze His Hand Until It Feels Like It's Going To Fall Off
My first epidural came after almost nine hours of pitocin, which, if you're unaware, is the devil's juice. I've experienced both natural contractions and contractions that were the result of a heavy pitocin drip, and induced contractions are just unworldly. The level of pain I was in during my otherwise medication-free labor due to the pitocin is indescribable. It was by far the worst pain of my life. The contractions were coming to hard and fast that I was blacking out in the middle of them, which was every 90 seconds or so.
Once my epidural finally arrived, I was so weak and in so much pain that I couldn't sit myself up or cooperate. I literally couldn't control my body, but I had to get in position, so once I was up, I death squeezed my partner through more contractions until my epidural had been administered. I'm sure he thought I was breaking his hands or his ribs, but he soldiered through it like a champ.
He Encourages Her
Although he was doing his best not to get queazy during my epidural, my partner did do a good job encouraging me through it (and despite my ninja grip). I wasn't worried about getting it, but by the time my epidural arrived during my first labor, I was physically beat. Having my partner talk me through the pain of the contractions while the anesthesiologist prepped me didn't take away my pain, but it definitely helped distract me.
He Helps Calm Her Down
Back rubs, shoulder rubs, head rubs, and anything else a partner can do to help relax his a laboring woman while she receives her epidural are welcome. Their bodies might not be the ones going through the process of labor, but they can still take measures to help make the bodies that are, feel better.
He Lightens The Mood If He Needs To
Jokes, stories, and other antics that might help a woman who has anxiety about an epidural are also welcome.
He Doesn't Act Like He's The One Getting Stuck With A Needle
Just, no. Nope, nope, nope. Women are the ones evacuating a human from their bodies, and though epidurals are a safe and mostly painless part of that process, having a partner who is freaking out about getting stuck with a needle when, you know, he's not the one getting stuck is borderline ridiculous. Even if he's deathly afraid of needles, he needs to put on a brave face while you do the heavy lifting to bring your baby into the world. This just isn't about you, dude.
He Brings All The Ice Chips
Because, of course.
He Makes His Partner Out To Be A Damn Hero After It's Over
He can start a slow clap or do cartwheels or write a novel that depicts the bravery you displayed while you got your epidural, but he had better be singing your praises once it's over (and especially if he freaked out at any point).
I get it, I guess. Birth can be scary, especially the first time around, and bringing a baby into the world can bring about anxiety for both parents. I would imagine it isn't easy to see your parenting partner in any amount of pain, but let's be honest: there's one person doing the brunt of the work when it comes to birth, and she needs all the support she can get, so helping out during an epidural is kind of the least a person could do for his partner.