Okay, you’ve grabbed your hospital go bag, helped your partner out to the car, and are on your way to the hospital because not too long ago her water broke and she’s gone into active labor. No big deal, right? I mean, you’re only about to become a dad!
Truthfully, you’re probably filled with an unidentifiable amount of emotions, happy, excited, nervous, scared, the list probably goes on-and-on and fluctuates every 30 seconds when your partner lets out deep breath with every painful contraction.
You don’t have anything to fear. You’ve been meticulously preparing for this moment ever since you first found out you were going to be a dad. But, it’s completely understandable if you’re memory’s a bit fuzzy on what to do. To help, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for you, as a dad, to keep in mind on one of the most memorable days of your life, the birth of your child.
This may seem obvious, but the most important thing you can do on the day of delivery is to show up. Delivery is a physically and emotionally draining experience for your partner. She needs someone there and you’re the dad, it should be you. So don’t plan on scheduling any business or personal trips around the due date.
It’s Okay to Be Scared
After the birth of your child, a lot is going to change in your life. If you hadn’t thought about much before you’re dashing to the hospital or helping hold a leg as your partner pushes through the pain of passing a tiny human through her lady parts, you’re probably thinking about it now … nights out with the guys are going to be far and few between, sexual intimacy may not be what it used to be, sleep? Forget about it!
The thought of everything you took for granted before your child was born going away is completely normal and honestly, things are never going to be the same. However, while you may not go out and stay out late with your buddies as much, your life will be filled with miraculous and awesome new moments. Try to remember that.
This may sound like a simple command, but in the heat of the moment it’s easy to get distracted. It’s important that you take a deep breath and listen because you’re going to play a crucial role in the events to come.
Listen to your partner. She is going to be in a tremendous amount of physical and emotional change when pregnant and giving birth. It’s important that you know what she wants and doesn’t want with things like pain medications, Cesarean sections, and birthing techniques because you’ll need to advocate for her if she’s unable to do so while giving birth.
Listen to the doctor. Okay, so the dad can play several different roles in the birthing process. Maybe you’ll need to hold one of your partner’s legs, maybe you’ll need to be by her head talking her through the contractions, or maybe you’ll need to sacrifice your hand for your partner to squeeze the life out of it as she pushes. Regardless, your partner’s doctor may need you to play a number of different roles. Listen and be ready to act.
You probably don’t think of your partner giving birth as a physically demanding activity for dad and while you’ll obviously not be expending close to as much energy as she will be, you’ve still got to go through the whole thing with her and it can sometimes take a long time. You don’t want to be the dad who’s munching on a cheeseburger while your partner is pushing out your kid.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Earlier in the pregnancy, you and your partner likely put together a birthing plan – a list of things you and she do and don’t want during the birth. These are great for a baseline, but it’s important to understand that even the best laid plans often get tossed out the window when things don’t go according to plan.
It’s important for you to be the voice of reason throughout this process. For example, if your partner absolutely didn’t want to take any pain medication or an epidural and the doctors are saying that the pain is preventing her body to dilate to the necessary size to allow the baby to be born, you’ll need to try and convince her that it’s okay that your plan isn’t working and to consider the alternative because above all else, the most important thing is the health of baby and mom.
Above all else, try to enjoy this magical moment. Regardless of whether this is your first kid or your working on fielding your own soccer team, every pregnancy and delivery is unique and special in its own way. Be there, be an active participant, take lots of pictures and videos, and enjoy your time with your new little bundle of joy!