Being in labor is serious business. Those of us who've been through it know exactly how serious, too. Everyone else on the sidelines? Well, they can try to be sympathetic and try to understand, but all they can really do is be helpful and supportive. Our partners, try as they might, can’t do much for us once we get to a certain point in labor. But what they can do is make sure they don’t ask ridiculous questions while we’re in labor, so we don’t have to spend any of our time, energy, or attention contemplating how to hurt them once we've managed to bring a child into the world.
Honestly, dads should know most (if not all) of the answers to these simple questions. They can, of course, ask you ahead of time, prior to your water breaking or your induction or your horrible contractions or your C-section. And, of course, they could simply research these questions themselves. You know, like big kids. Because dads, labor is not about you. And again, this shouldn't come as a surprise. If pregnancy is not about you, childbirth is 100 percent absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, not about you at all.
While you might have some needs while your partner is in labor for hours on end, and while you might have the best of intentions while it’s all going down, you need to ask yourself, “Do I really need to ask this question right now?” Because chances are, you don’t. So if you want to be a helpful and show how much of a loving, attentive, supportive partner you truly are, make sure to erase these questions out of your mind the minute those contractions start:
"Can I Tell People We’re In Labor?"
No. No, you can’t. Because, see, I’m in labor. Not you. So yes, I might be OK with you telling folks I’ve gone into labor ( and maybe we should have discussed this ahead of time, before my water broke all over our kitchen floor), but definitely don’t say "we." There is no "we" in labor.
"Does It Hurt?"
Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?! Maybe let’s trade bodies and you can tell me if this "hurts."
"You Sure You Don’t Want The Drugs?"
Pain medication is something we should discuss together prior to the big day. If I tell you, “I don’t want pain meds during labor,” and you see me struggling, please don’t remind me that an epidural is only a request away. I will know if and when I need anything.
Plus, bringing up pain medication while a laboring women is trying to get through a medication-free childbirth, is like telling someone who is trying to go vegan how delicious your cheeseburger is, especially if you know they used to really enjoy cheeseburgers.
The same goes for asking, "Are you sure you want the drugs?" If someone says to bring on the pain medication, just shut your face whole and bring them the pain medication.
"Is It OK If I Take A Nap?"
No. And if you do, I will kick you every time you take a nap from here until eternity, just for this horrific life choice you've decided to make in my hour(s) of intense need. That said, if I find you of no use and tell you to take a nap, that’s different.
"How Much Longer Do You Think You Have To Go?"
Well, let me look into my crystal ball and figure out how long my labor will be. I’m sure the baby knows about that one NBA game at 7:00 p.m. you've been looking forward, and would never want you to miss it for something as silly as the birth of your child.
"Are You Sure You Can Do This?"
Little late to ask this question, isn’t it? I mean, I basically have to now. This is absolutely not helpful at all.
"How Are You Going To Squeeze That Baby Out?"
Please don’t remind me of what’s about to happen to my vagina and my body. You wouldn’t want me asking you how you were about to pass a stone through your urethra if you had kidney stones, right? This is 100 times worse.
"Mind If I Post This On Facebook?"
This is the kind of thing that needs to be discussed ahead of time. But odds are, I definitely don’t want you Facebook Live a single second of what's about to go down. I don’t need the world to see me sweaty and screaming and swearing any more than usual, thanks.
"Can I Take A Break?"
And do what, exactly? You helped get me into this mess, sir. If I don’t get a break, you don’t get one either. If, for some reason, you absolutely need to, say, use the restroom, make sure someone is in the room to take your place momentarily and just let me know you’ll be back in a moment. And please, for the love of all things holy, BE BACK IN A MOMENT.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.