Congrats on your pregnancy, New Dad! Now, we’ve got to talk about the upcoming birth. Gone are the days where men are given the pass to wait outside in the hallway and wait for the cries of your baby as mom sweats, pushes and grunts for hours surrounded by doctors or doulas. Dad, this is your time to shine!
In many cases, when a woman goes in to the hospital, she is surrounded by strangers. You are the one person that knows her the best, and she will feel most comfortable with you. Hold Mom’s hand and don’t let go unless and until she asks you to. You can, and should play an active role in this process. I know, you are asking what that means you should do. In short: Everything! Get her what she wants when she asks for it. Think of it like sports. This process isn’t just about the touchdown (baby being born), it’s about the entire game, beginning to end. Encourage her, support her, and just be there with her. You’re the waterboy, quarterback, coach and cheerleader. You’ll both remember this event forever you and you want to remember that team work that made the baby, and team work that delivered the baby.
Okay, so it’s not that simple. The good news though, is that a doula can help guide you through the process. Think of a doula as a birth coach. You can team with your doula to push on your mom-to-be’s pressure points that will instantly give her relief, and will totally make you a super hero in her eyes. Help her get into birthing positions that help her feel better, and help baby come down more easily. You’re going to see your partner in pain and can’t “solve” the issue, but your support and hands on approach will make a huge difference. Offer mom a massage. She will likely take you up on it and if she doesn’t, she will feel very cared for none the less that you would even offer.
Don’t feel confined to the hospital room. You can run a bath for her, turn on the shower and let hot water run down her body. Offer to get her more pillows from the nurses, or more ice. Offer to get her water, or go get her food (if you are “allowed” to do so.) If she craves a specific diner, call and have it delivered or arrange for a friend to bring it in. If you have kids at home, see to it that they are being cared for so that mom does not have to worry about anything but birthing a healthy baby. Walking can really be helpful during labor, offer to give her a tour of the hospital. Be creative while on your walk, silly even works! Pretend you are somewhere else and show her around this “paradise”. Laughter really can be the best medicine.
Come prepared. Bring yourself snacks and anything else you need to allow for you to stay by her side the entire time. Regularly whisper things like, “You are doing a wonderful job, I am so proud of you!” Also, take it like a man! If she needs to squeeze your hand, take a deep breath and let her have at it. Hold the bowl for her while she vomits and keep her hair out. I’m not trying to be gross, but it is important to be prepared for whatever may come your way, including the baby. There is stress, nerves, and vomit involved, just like on game day.