Dad’s might not be the stars of the big day but they still play a very important role on D-Day! It’s always clear what mom’s duties are before and during the delivery, but the facts around dad’s duties are a little faint. Sure, dad’s won’t be doing any pushing (or being cut open) but there are ways for them to help out in the delivery room (and no, they don’t involve wearing scrubs and pretending to be a doctor!)
I’ve heard of dad’s walking into a delivery room and wanting to run right back out because they weren’t prepared for what they would see. I’ve heard of mom’s experiencing anxiety because dad’s didn’t know the right words to tell to keep her calm and focused.
Don’t stress. If you’re expecting a little one and dad has no idea what his duties are for the day, give him this crash course:
Do: keep mom calm and even a little distracted from the pain she is feeling. That little bit of distraction can be the difference between a blood curdling scream and a little whimper when the pain passes through her body.
With Monster, I was in labor for 12 hours and Byren kept me distracted from the worst pain by quizzing me on the Harry Potter movies and even a few rounds of Thumb Wars. Needless to say, that didn’t turn out to well as every time I felt a contraction, I dug my nails into his hand.
Do: keep telling mom how proud you are of her. She is going to be in a lot of pain and she will be worried throughout the whole process about her pushing and her breathing. Also, she is busy pushing out a tiny human out of a tinier space. She needs all the reassurance and kind words you can give, and then some more.
Don’t: comment on anything gross you see. Just don’t. Mom is busy concentrating and practicing calming techniques she studied for months. By commenting on anything that might disgust you will break her concentration and her first words might not be too loving towards you. If you see something you think you might not be able to stomach (during check ups before the birthing process starts), kindly excuse yourself and return to the room once it is over.
Do: study the breathing techniques that will assist during contractions and labor. You’re mom’s coach in the delivery room, it is your duty to remind her to do the breathing techniques. Also, she isn’t need to do them alone; join in. This way, she has her focus on you and is slightly distracted from the pain radiating through her body.
Do: know your facts. Do yourself a (huge) favor, go and read up on labor. Go and research the facts about what will happen and what to expect. If you’re brave enough, search for a video of a woman in labor. It might be a little gross, and for some maybe even a little terrifying. Mom will appreciate your efforts for trying to understand what she will be going through.
I never asked Byren to watch a video of a woman giving birth. He did this on his own because he wanted to get a feel of what was to be expected in the delivery room. Did it freak him out? A little yes but at least, on D-Day, there were no freak outs.
Don’t: eat or drink anything in front of mom. At some stage, the doctor will cut off all eating and drinking for mom, and it could be hours before she can get any substances into her body. Don’t put her in more agony by munching on snacks next to her.
Don’t: tell stupid jokes. As much as mom needs the distractions, you don’t want to go ahead and upset her. Keep jokes to a minimal and rather express more excitement about meeting your little bundle of joy.
Do: take care of the paperwork. Mom’s biggest job is to deliver your baby. She won’t have time for any thoughts of filling out forms and submitting them. It is your duty to make sure that that is taken care of. So when mom asks you about it, you can assure her all has been taken care of.
Do: expect the unexpected. As much as we all visualise a clean and quick birth, it doesn’t always happen that way. Many times, complications may arise that are unforeseen and your birth plan (if mom set one up) is put aside. Be prepared for anything. With that being said…
Don’t: believe what you see in movies and TV shows. Quick labors in under 30 minutes? No, it doesn’t happen that way. It’s unrealistic. An average birth lasts between four hours, and could stretch out to over 24 hours for some moms. Be prepared to be a cheerleader for mom for a longer time.
Do: capture the moment, but don’t miss it. Often (in any situation), we want to capture every single moment on film that we forget to live in that moment. Yes, it would be great to see your little one held up for the first time and take a photo of him/her as it happens. But don’t be so crowded by the idea and miss out in seeing it with your own eyes and feelings those emotions in real-time.
Don’t: apologise to mom every time she is pain. She doesn’t want to hear, “I’m sorry I did this to you” repeated like the sound of a broken record. She’s well aware of that, but she is also aware of the fact that she put herself in that position as well. You know, as the saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” Trust me, when she is holding that little bundle in her arms, she won’t remember the fact that you ‘did that to her‘, all she will know is that you gave her the best gift ever; the gift of being a mother.
Don’t: be offended if mom swears at you. Sometimes you won’t need to apologise to mom for putting her through the pain. She might be screaming at you already; swearing and even throwing things at you. Don’t take it to heart. Mom’s do go through great pain during labor (some lucky one’s not so much) and when that pain gets a little too much, she will lash out in anger, but not so much anger as in pain.
One of the most important duties you will have on that day is experiencing the moment together, knowing that very soon, you will not just be two anymore, but three, or four, or five.
There is nothing more beautiful than welcoming a child into your lives. Enjoy every moment of it. You may have more children in the future and think you will experience all the touchy-feely stuff later on, but every birth and every child is unique. Savor the moment.