There are so few things that you actually have control over when it comes to the process of giving birth. Even when you do have the best strategy in place, the universe can throw you a curveball. For instance, I had my entire birth plan figured out down to the tiniest detail, but then I ended up having to get a C-section. So with all the stress involved during labor, it's such a weight off your shoulders to have your partner there. There are plenty of ways dads can and should help when you give birth. After all, you didn't exactly make that baby by yourself, right?
In films and television shows, there are loads of stereotypes about how dads behave during their wife's pregnancy and they appear almost entirely clueless once they're in the delivery room. Yet I've found that those tropes, though great for comedy, don't actually hold up in the real world. My best friend gave birth to her second daughter prematurely and I can tell you I’ve never seen a more attentive and caring partner than her husband during such an intense experience.
Having a partner who can be there for you in any capacity truly does make a difference. So check out all the ways dads can help you when you’re giving birth.
1. Listen To Your Wife
It may sound cliche, but just having someone you complain, cry, and talk to does wonders for morale. Though chatting can be fun, it could be helpful for dads to remember that some women just want to be heard.
2. Communicate & Advocate For Her
In between contractions and ridiculous pain, the mom-to-be might not always be able to verbally say what she needs. According to the experts at Baby Center, “you have a big role in helping your partner get comfortable and in communicating her wishes.”
3. Remember All That Training
Whether you took birthing education classes or binge-watched a bunch of YouTube videos, being prepared is helpful for all parties. As noted in Parents, “knowing what to expect will make the experience less terrifying for you and staying calm and focused will help your partner.”
4. Support Instead Of Trying To Solve
For a lot of men I know, they approach every situation like it’s a puzzle which needs to be solved. Labor isn’t one of those situations, though. For dads, according to Belly Belly, “remember your partner needs space to go through the motions of birth, including the pain that comes with it.”
5. Follow The Leader
Even though it took two to tango (make the baby), when it comes down to giving birth, that is pretty much all on the mother. So dads should be taking cues from their partner rather than trying to make things happen. Chris Woolston, a health and science expert, told Health Day, "your wife will tell you what needs to happen. Just be there. Your physical presence is more important than anything else."
6. Bring Cash
This may sound odd, but since you will most likely be unable to run out for anything, it'll be up to the dad to make whatever errand runs are necessary. In a hospital especially, it helps to have cash for everything from vending machines to tipping the valet. For example, I swore I packed everything, but somehow I forgot my comfort food, graham crackers. So in the middle of the night, when no grocery stores were open, my husband searched every hospital floor until he found a vending machine that had them. That's heroism, people.
7. Put Your Back Into It
During the birthing process you will ache and have weird cramps in places you didn't even know had muscles. So let your partner roll up his sleeves and get down to work with some massages. According to the experts at Fit Pregnancy, "nobody gives a better back rub than a dad who knows his wife's body. Another good way to support mom is to literally support her body weight, help her maintain that position comfortably."
8. Treat Her Like A VIP
First off, any woman who gives birth is a VIP already. However, I'm specifically talking about how this affects the dad's role during the experience. Your partner should treat nosy relatives and mean nurses like fans trying to sneak backstage at a Beyonce concert without a pass. Noted on The Bump, "use your position wisely. Discuss paparazzi privileges with your partner in advance."
9. Take Notes
In my personal experience, my brain was too frazzled to remember how dilated I was, what paperwork I'd already filled out, or anything else. So it was beyond helpful to have my husband there to not just keep track of medical details, but to capture sweet, fleeting moments that we could reflect on later.
10. Go Gadget-Free
Depending on what you and your partner have agreed to in terms of sharing and posting about your birthing process, it might be helpful to discuss it all beforehand so your partner can be focused solely on you and not a screen. For tech-dependent dads, The Bump said to, "forget the phone. If your partner agrees, go ahead and send out a general update or two, but keep it to a minimum. And once pushing begins, turn it off."
11. Prepare For The Long Haul
The fun (and somewhat frustrating) part about giving birth is that it doesn't adhere to anyone's timeline. All births are different, some simply last longer than others. So dads should do all they can to keep the mom-to-be comfortable and relaxed. According to Parents, "bring along distractions, such as a deck of cards, an iPod, or whatever you think might take her mind off her increasing discomfort."