We’re sitting here very close to being inside 1 month until the arrival of our daughter. Mom is probably getting ready to pack her hospital bag, and as a dad, you need to start preparing yourself for Labor and Delivery as well.
1) Understand first and foremost, that the woman doin’ the pushin’ gets control of the room’s temperature. If you’re spending the night on the room’s sofa or pullout, you’re going to want to pack both shorts and pants, t-shirts and sweatshirts, even in the middle of the summer. Because one minute, you’re freezing to death in the middle of the night and then next, you’re under the deathray lights while you’re standing there holding your wife’s hands as she gets an epidural. You don’t want to be that dad that passes out.
2) Learn the lingo. You’ve probably heard the word “dilation” before, but get used to words like effaced, crowning, episiotomy, etc. Like really dig deep, because it’s a lot more pleasant to know beforehand than having some L&D nurse have to talk about cervices, mucus plugs, etc. And if you hear a word you don’t know, just Google it, for the love of God, just Google it.
3) A lot of dads like to be really “in there” when it comes to delivery. Word of advice, even it’s your wife of 20 years, there are just some things that you probably want to keep a mystery, and believe me, that mystery can be kept if you stand near your wife’s head during delivery. Like–things happen down there, and you’re probably better for just not seeing it.
4) Have some respect, don’t house a really damn tasty cheeseburger right in front of your significant other when she’s not allowed to eat anything. If there is support there, have someone come hang out with her while you go and eat something, and then lie about it later. If you don’t have any support, make up an excuse to leave the room like–I forgot to lock the car (even better, forget to lock the car on purpose, or leave your cell phone charger in there so you have a legit excuse), and then just take a big bag of Wendy’s into a bathroom stall and have at it.
5) If your significant other is hooked up to a monitor that monitors things like contractions, be sensitive. You’re going to see a contraction coming about 5 seconds before she feels it, and making a grimacing face probably doesn’t help
6) Stay positive, but keep expectations realistic. There may be a few times when you think your significant other is really going to fucking lose it. Like, really kill someone, or like my wife conceded, that the baby was never going to come out and just live there forever. Try and stay really positive about it all, but also don’t stand there and tell her that it will all be over soon and that this is a really fun time for everyone.
7) Bring some entertainment. Even in labor, women might want to rest their eyes. And sometimes, labor is really long, and your ass is sitting there watching whatever daytime cable show that happens to be on (try to convince her to go into labor on a Tuesday, because USA shows Law and Order: SVU marathons).
8) Slip the nurse a $20. I don’t know if this works or not, but it seems like a good idea. Tell her to make the ice chips good.
9) You have no idea what the pain feels like, so just don’t even question it. It doesn’t matter. Don’t hold up the little smiley face chart and ask her to point where she falls on the scale, if she says it hurts, assume it hurts, and do what she wants.
10) Realize that sometimes, you won’t be able to say much besides “I’m so sorry” or “Is there anything I can do?” Like, what are you supposed to do, your significant other is pushing a baby out of her and you’re just standing there. You aren’t an epidural and you aren’t a physician. Just be the punching bag if you need to be, do the things she needs you to do, and when you’re not doing those things, just stand there and feel helpless and realize there’s nothing more you can do.
11) Don’t complain about how long it’s taking. Seriously. Why the hell would you do that?
12) Be on camera patrol. Seriously, you’re never going to be forgiven if you forget to take that first picture. My kid was like 7 seconds old when his first picture was taken. I was like Johnny on the Spot with that camera. Be sure to vet the pictures before posting to social media. You don’t want a placental photobomb. Or a friend to catch a glimpse of your wife’s hoo-ha.
13) If your wife has a birth plan, stick to it with her. Set up everything in a way that she can do that. But also be prepared to be the voice telling her it’s okay if she needs to deviate from it. She’s the one in labor. Just because she wants to go med-free during Hour 1 doesn’t mean she’ll feel the same in Hour 11. If she needs to break from the plan, be the person telling her it’s okay to do that. If your significant other who was adamant about going natural suddenly wants an epidural, drag the nearest anesthesiologist into the room and hold him against his will if need be. Don’t act like a birth plan is a contract in danger of being breeched if you at all deviate from it. (Additionally, check with your her BEFORE it all starts going down to determine how breechable said birth plan is. If she states that she wants you to keep her to it no matter what, then do that, perhaps create a safeword or something).
14) Be the least-complicated thing in her life for the day. There’s a lot of shit going on, and very little, if any of it, is legimately enjoyable or fun. Like, even if you’re not having fun (and you likely won’t be), just be the one thing that she doesn’t have to worry about. Everyone has it in them to not be an asshole for a day.
15) Seriously, though, I think greasing the nurse will go a long way.