I'm going to go "rogue" here for a minute and ask the question most people don't think about asking when it comes to labor and delivery: How should dads get ready for the big event? Just like moms, it's important for fathers to be prepared; while they aren't doing the actual laboring, they'll need to be a strong source of support. There's no doubt that mom has the toughest job, obviously, but there are definitely things they should tell new dads before going to the hospital.
Maybe if novice fathers were more prepared, they'd feel a little more confident in their abilities to be there for their partners before they do something as difficult and amazing as childbirth. But what words of wisdom would be the most helpful? I asked new dads what they wished someone had told them before they went to the hospital, and their responses ranged from predictable, to humorous, to sweet, to practical. Featuring warnings against "looking down" for the faint of heart to tips on why skin-to-skin is important for both mom and dad, the list below has plenty of valuable information dads should know before attending the birth of their child. So read up, and good luck new dads. You're in for quite an experience — one you'll never forget.
1. You will sleep in the hospital much less than you anticipated.
Those fold out couches that are supposed to be "beds" definitely don't cut it. Plus, the nurses come in every hour or so to check the baby's vitals and mom's vitals. Which is good, but definitely not restful.
2. There will be a lot more blood than you expected — even if it’s not a c-section.
My husband is pretty squeamish, so I'm proud of him for not passing out when he snuck a peek down there while I was pushing my baby out. He also said he was not prepared for what happens during the uterine "massage" and when they stitch you up.
3. You really can’t understand the pain your partner will be in until you’re in the moment — and even still you won’t ever fully understand.
I think my husband was screaming for me to get an epidural more than I was at times. He was so worried about my well being and he said he couldn't believe how much pain I was in. He was pretty scared. In our defense, I did have to be induced with Pitocin, and then I had to wait four hours for an epidural while they checked to make sure my blood was coagulating properly since I had to take blood thinners my entire pregnancy due to a previous stroke. I also went from like 0 to 10 centimeters pretty quickly.
4. You’re going to see some nasty stuff!
My friend's husband tells this to every single new dad he can. No matter which way you deliver, child birth isn't glamorous at all, and there is a lot of bodily fluid that is flowing around.
5. Dad may be the sole caregiver of their newborn for days, if mom suffered complications.
If mom had a c-section or had some bad tearing, or had any complications, she may not be able to stand up well for a while. It will be up to you, dad, to help change the baby and get that baby to her if she's breastfeeding, or if the baby just needs mom cuddles.
6. Get up in the middle of the night, change the diaper and bring the baby to mom if she is nursing. This incredibly small act will be worth millions to your partner.
Moms are going to be beyond exhausted — physically, emotionally, and mentally. And she will need all the rest she can get to recuperate after the trauma her body went through — especially for when y'all get home and are having 24-7 baby duty and don't sleep at home either. She will forever love and appreciate if you do this for her. Trust.
7. I didn’t realize the small amount of people that were involved in the birthing room. It's nothing like you see on TV.
So those medical drama TV shows were lies, all lies. Unless mom wants more people in there, it's typically not a huge "to do" unless mom has to have a c-section or there's a complication. Buckle up dad, you need to be there for support.
8. You'll most likely be changing the first poop diaper, and that poop diaper is like a giant ball of sticky tar.
Black, sticky tar. To be honest though, it is the least you can do after your partner labored, right?
9. During a c-section, they bring in the dad right before they remove the baby, so it’s a little disturbing for the dad to see for the first time.
Those big lights, the surgical masks, gloves, and gowns, your partner in a cap, and that curtain with all the tools on a table next to it can be pretty intimidating. Try not to show it, though, because mom will definitely need your calm support.
10. Both your partner and your baby will need a diaper.
Har har har. But where's the lie, though?
11. Don't look down.
Enough said. Especially if you have a weak stomach. It sure is cool, miraculous and special, but it sure ain't pretty.
12. Skin-to-skin isn't just for moms.
This was so, so important to our family. As soon as I had my skin-to-skin time with my baby right after he was born, my husband unbuttoned his shirt and held our son to his chest for a while. There are a ton of benefits for both baby and dad when they have skin-to-skin time.