Expectant dads, get ready. I’m about to drop some important information as you count down the days until your new arrival actually arrives.
Unless you’ve been in a delivery room for a live birth before, there is little that you can do to prepare for exactly what you are about to see and hear as your child prepares to enter the world. It might be terrifying. It might be exhilarating. It definitely will be unforgettable.
You will see your wife as you have never seen her before. She will be experiencing a pain and agony that you cannot even begin to comprehend and at the same time, she knows it will be followed by the greatest and purest joy known to mankind. In many ways, you will be her guide and in some moments, you will be a mere afterthought.
Here are some of the tips and tidbits that I wish someone had bestowed upon me before I walked into the delivery room for the birth of my first child. Hopefully, the words below will enrich your experience and give you a roadmap of what to expect.
This is the most important piece of information that I can give you. It’s likely that you are about to watch the love of your life endure sheer and seemingly unending pain. You will also watch a live human exit her body. That might be challenging for you. Through it all, though, you must maintain your composure. If you stay calm, you can help her – to some degree – understand that everything is going to be okay, no matter how much pain she’s in.
Handle the Issues
There may be decisions that need to be made and you, the one who is not giving birth to a child, will be asked to answer questions and help make decisions. Be prepared and be decisive. Don’t expect her to be in the right mindset to contribute.
She Will Be Exposed
This might be a toughie for some guys. Your wife’s private parts will likely be on display for anyone in the room to see. But remember – this is a medical situation, not a voyeuristic one.
Your Wife is Not Herself
In the midst of an agonizing labor, your wife might say things to you that she doesn’t mean. Or she might mean them, but usually wouldn’t express them in such a way. If you hear something that would normally spark a fight, refrain. Take a deep breath. Give her some space, man. After all, she’s bringing a living, breathing, screaming child into the world. Your hurt feelings can wait.
Be Her Rock
If you’ve worked on breathing or stretching exercises in preparation for this moment, as the labor progresses, guide her back to those exercises. No matter what is going on, be there for her. Don’t check your phone. Don’t leave the room – unless she needs you to. Don’t lose focus. This is a moment that you and your wife will want to share and remember for the rest of your days. Give her your full and undivided attention.
You Must Remember
Your wife will be focused on giving birth. That is her job. Your job is to support her and remember everything else. If you want the moment captured on video, it’s your responsibility. If you want to have some memento from the occasion, it’s your responsibility. If she wants to remind the doctor about something important during the delivery, help her to remember. Create a checklist if you’re afraid that you’ll forget.
It’s likely that the doctor will ask if you want to cut the umbilical cord. It’s a special moment for many fathers and you need to be aware that it’s on the horizon. Take pride in that moment and savor it.
Prepare for Your Mother-in-Law
This is not necessarily a bad thing, despite the stereotype. It’s likely that your mother-in-law will be in the delivery room for the birth or at least one of the first people in the room immediately afterwards. Discuss with your wife beforehand about the boundaries, if any, that you want to establish. Remember that this is a major milestone for your mother-in-law, too, and it’s a rite of passage for mother and daughter.
Be accepting, be gracious and know that your mother-in-law may be a rock for you, your wife, and child in the coming days and weeks when you pledge the parenthood fraternity and are existing on little to no sleep.