In my opinion, giving birth isn't a spectator sport. Instead, it's a team effort and every laboring woman should have a supportive partner or person by her side, ready and willing to help as necessary. While that partner doesn't have to be a cisgender male of the romantic variety, they often are and, sadly, gender norms have let these men off the proverbial hook. Well, I say no more. There are things every grown-ass dad intuitively does during labor, because this isn't the 1950s... and because duh.
My partner was, for the most part, engaged during each of my two labor and deliveries, but there were more than a few moments when he missed the mark. For example, when I was in labor for three days with my daughter, my partner did countless things to provide comfort and support. But he also played games on his phone and left me alone so he could "take a break." Guess who couldn't take a break, buddy? Yeah, that would be me: the person pushing another person out of her body.
You'd think my partner would have learned his lesson by the time I gave birth to my son, but that wasn't necessarily the case. He still napped rather regularly, still focused on his phone, and still needed to take "breaks." While I would still consider him to be a very supportive partner during labor and delivery, it's hard to overlook the moments when he faltered. So with that in mind, and because every woman deserves as much support as she needs and wants, here's what every grown-ass man instinctually does when his partner is in labor:
He Holds Her Hand During Contractions
The contractions may not start off painful, but trust me when I say they'll get there. No woman in labor should ever have to squeeze the bedrails when a contractions peaks, unless that's her coping mechanism of choice. If she wants some human contact, a grown-ass dad offers his hands, instinctively. Does he complain that his hand is getting crushed? No. Does he talk about how much pain he is in? Not a chance.
He Brings Her Water Or Ice Chips Without Being Asked
Once food is no longer allowed (for me, it was as soon as I checked into the hospital), a laboring woman shouldn't have to track down a nurse for ice chips or water or whatever she's authorized to consume. A grown-ass dad makes sure she always has these things on hand and without having to ask for them. It may seem like a small thing, but I promise you it will make all the difference.
He Helps Her Breathe
My partner and I took birthing classes before the birth of our first baby because, well, we were feeling pretty clueless. But once I was in labor all those lessons went right out the window and I spiraled into panic mode.
Thankfully, there were times when my partner realized I needed the extra help, and automatically guided me through the exercises I'd suddenly forgotten.
He Applies Counter Pressure
Not all laboring women are going to want to be touched, so ask first before you go anywhere near your contracting partner. But if your partner gives you the OK, apply counter-pressure during those painful contractions. This is incredibly helpful if your partner is dealing with back labor.
He Take Pictures
While there are a few labor pictures I could do without ever seeing again, there are also a few I'm grateful for. Even though labor felt like it laster forever, once it was over it was all a blur. Honestly, it's hard to recall details or small moments that made all that pain worth it.
If you and your partner have already talked about it, make sure to snap some pictures so she can remember how badass she was.
He Advocate For Her
There's no reason why your partner should be constantly asking for, or arguing for, something when she's in labor. That's the partner and/or support person's job, and it should be second nature.
He Encourages Her
Whatever your partner needs to hear to make it through, say it. Giving birth is likely one of the most intense, physically exhausting, emotionally taxing things to ever happen to her, and she needs all the support and encouragement she can get. If there's ever a "right" time to be her personal cheerleader, it's during labor and delivery.
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