So what will make everyone’s life easier during labour, and get you out of this alive?! If all else fails, follow these tips as a very simple guide to labour and birth. These tips apply to all types of birth, just use your common sense and modify them slightly depending on circumstances.
So let’s keep this simple
Do as you are told! Really! She really does know how she wants to be massaged or rubbed. And yes, if she tells you to shut up because you are annoying her then SHUT UP. No, she doesn’t need you to keep talking to her to ‘take her mind off it.’ Trust me, you won’t achieve that, and you’re probably just preventing her from staying focused!
This rule overrides all my others, because if she is telling you to do something, and I have suggested differently, listen to her. I do not want to be cited in any divorce cases as the third party!
Get in the driving seat. It is likely to be your responsibility to get her to the hospital if that’s where you are having your baby. That means no getting drunk at the pub while you are ‘on call’, keeping the car topped up with fuel, and making sure you know alternative routes in case of road closures.
Be a Boy Scout. Be Prepared. Yes, I know she probably insisted on packing the bags for the hospital but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know what’s in there and where it is! Make sure you know where everything is… and NO ‘man looking’. Telling her during the middle of a contraction that you can’t find something, when it is right there in front of you, won’t go down well either.
- I know us blokes like gadgets, but don’t get too focused on that contraction monitor. IT’S not having your baby!! And trust me; she does not need you telling her ‘here comes a BIG one!’ It’s not helpful for adrenalin and, trust me, she will know it’s a big one without your help!
Be Coach Sven. You are Sven and not Sir Alex; you are not to shout encouragement from the sidelines at the top of your voice. Yes she can do it, but she doesn’t need you shouting at her. Be like Sven – focused, calm and offering support as required.
Extend your vocabulary. ‘You’re doing really well, Sweetheart’ uttered the 10th time in as many minutes, will start to really irritate her. You of course will be proud of her, she will be doing brilliantly, be amazing and awe inspiring. It sounds silly but it’s a good idea to plan in advance some ideas of different things you can say to show your support. ‘I love you’ or ‘we’ll soon meet our baby’ are just as helpful for showing support. Oh and anything you say, say it softly!
Step away from the phone… During labour your total focus is her and her needs. Your text messages, emails, facebook, twitter or even the football result can wait. Do not be constantly checking your phone.
If it ain’t Broke…. Do not give in to the male natural instinct of ‘fixing’ things. You will undoubtedly at times believe your partner is in need of help, this does not mean you override preferences you have discussed beforehand and start deciding things based on your feelings. You need to understand sometimes she will scream at you, she will swear at you, this does not mean she needs you to take control. You have a job here as her advocate and protector. Stick to your birth preferences as you discussed together, and wait for her to request something. Don’t offer ‘solutions’ like pain relief to her, as this can undermine her as she then wonders if you think she isn’t coping (followed by fear, followed by adrenalin…) Stick with whatever breathing or relaxation techniques you have been practicing and support her. That is your role, you are not there to ‘fix’.
Be the swan. So things are progressing and you are feeling what? Tired? Back hurting? Nail marks in your hand from being gripped? What you going to do? You’ve guessed it – absolutely NOTHING. You are the swan, underneath you may be feeling all kinds of things, but on the surface, you are calm. There is nothing more annoying to a woman in labour than her partner moaning about how tired they are, or the fact they are in pain! Keep your energy levels up, and if she sleeps, then you can sleep too. Outwardly, you should be the picture of calm and support, so that her faith in you stays strong as her protector, and adrenalin levels stay low.
The business end… Discuss in advance if you think you would like some pictures or video of the moment your baby is born. Some women will not want pictures under any circumstances, and again despite what we might feel, we have to respect this as we are talking about their body. Even if you have agreed in advance that you do want photos, she still has the prerogative to change her mind. Do also make sure that you are clear about whether she feels comfortable with you being down there at all, she may not want you looking at her bits as your baby is being born. She may want you by her side, or supporting her body in a particular position during the birth – again this is her right to choose.
It’s not over till it’s over. Do not rush off straight after the birth to announce it to the world, it can wait. Stay with her, get her glass of water, give her and your baby a cuddle, tell her how proud of her you are and make sure she is ok… Enjoy these first moments you have together as a new family. When she is clean and settled, then you can sod off and go tell the world.
Get the right facts. If you are telling the world about the birth, get the info straight. Date, time, weight and name are crucial info. If you don’t want to be inundated with a thousand messages asking for this info, get it right the first time.
Presents are always appreciated. Some call them ‘push presents’ – not a requirement, but if you have a little gift for Mum (and one for Baby) it’s a lovely thing to do. You don’t have to give it to her the minute she has given birth, but having something ready to give her when everything is settled is a lovely way to show how much you care and how you have been thinking ahead to celebrating this moment. If you already have a child or children – make sure they have a little gift too – a special big brother or sister gift. It is important to remember how they feel, and that they are also appreciated too – obviously not just through material items, but also through lots of cuddles and special one-on-one time with you.
If at any time you are in doubt of what to do, always refer back to the number one rule: DO AS YOU ARE TOLD!
Thanks to Dean Beaumont for this excerpt from his bestselling, The Expectant Dad’s Handbook