First-time dads—be prepared. Giving birth is actually nothing like what it seems in the movies or television—not even on Grey’s Anatomy. A woman will be sweaty, she will be in lots of pain, there will be a ton of fluids and the baby may even look weird.
Though a dad may play a big role throughout the entire pregnancy process, between going to all the appointments, running to the store for cravings and helping their partner do a lot of things she used to be able to do, in the delivery room a lot of dads-to-be feel pretty helpless, scared or altogether freaked out.
Dads get to see everything that their partner goes through from every angle, unlike the woman trying to push the baby out. They also have to deal with everyone including the family waiting for the update, all the doctors and nurses, and their partner. Though dads do not deliver the baby themselves, their role in the delivery room is very important. However, it is not often that dads talk about what to expect in the delivery room. Many men go in blind to the horrors of that place, so this article discusses 15 different things that new dads will often face during the labor process.
15 Cutting The Cord
Cutting the umbilical cord after the baby is born has become a tradition for dads everywhere. It is important to decide before heading to the hospital if the dad wants to cut the cord or not, otherwise the doctor will just do it.
While some men view it as a priceless opportunity, others have no desire to do it whatsoever.
Either way, it is one of the first real things a father will get to do with and for his newborn. Men who choose to cut the umbilical cord are often surprised how it feels to cut the cord. Some describe it as “tough,” “like the inner tube of a bicycle tire” or like a “bungee cord.” A lot of dads love it because it helps them feel like they contributed to the birthing process—even if they get fluids splattered all over them.
14 Become A Photographer
After labor, a woman may have very little recollection of everything that happened during that time simply because she was in a lot of pain, she was emotional or because the meds made her loopy. So, it becomes the dad’s job to document this life-changing day. Weeks before the baby’s due date, a dad-to-be and his partner should discuss what is okay to be captured on film and what is not.
An understanding of angles is also helpful in times such as labor. Too many women end up having to burn birthing videos because all that was captured on film were shots of her nether regions. Filming over the shoulder of one’s partner or the doctor is always a much better angle. Also, dads should be sure to check with their partner before they post or share any pictures or video clips.
13 Patience Is A Virtue
Like we said earlier, the birthing process is nothing like we see on TV or in the movies. In other words, it can take a really long time. Contractions can last for several hours before a woman is even close to being dilated enough to push.
If a woman gets an epidural, it can take a lot of time before everything is ready.
Just because it is a very exciting time and the parents want the baby to come quickly does not mean it will happen right away. A baby will come when it comes—no ifs, ands or buts—so it is important to be patient and to help your partner be patient too. Dads need to be prepared to go with the flow in the delivery room.
12 Be The Advocate
Every mommy-to-be needs an advocate in the delivery room. Dads in the hospital need to know their partner’s preferences for medications, C-sections and any other important procedures. Know the birth plan in and out. Labor is extremely difficult, and in the heat of the moment the woman may change her mind about certain things, so the dad needs to be there to make her desires known as the mom will likely be in a lot of pain.
For instance, sometimes doctors push for interventions that the mother may not even need or want. Without the dad to help make sure her voice is heard, a woman who never wanted to be induced may be induced. Dads in the delivery room can be a big source of support for moms and new babies as well.
11 Cards On The Table—And Number Two, Too
Some men seem to think that it is some sort of urban legend that women poop too. Well, sorry to burst that bubble, but women poop all the time. Sometimes, they even poop on the delivery table while giving birth because hey, they are pushing.
It is totally normal and it happens to tons of women.
Yeah, it is kind of gross, but isn’t the entire labor process kind of gross with fluids everywhere? Dads would probably be wise to not remind the mother that she pooped on the table during labor. Because hospitals have excellently trained staff, doctors and nurses may have women cleaned up in a manner of moments after the deed. They always keep it very professional, for everyone’s benefit.
10 Keep Calm
It is completely normal for dads to be freaking out when they are about to become a father—but it is important for new dads not to show how much they are freaking out until after the baby is born. Moms already have enough stress as it is—they are in a ton of pain, they are maybe nervous about being a new mom, they want to make sure everything happens correctly—and they are often freaking out enough for both parents combined.
If the dad can be a calming source for the mom-to-be, it is all the better. Dads should try to stay calm and focused on helping their partner. Dads are the best people to help keep moms calm because they know her better than any doctor or nurse at the hospital.
9 Counter Pressure
One thing many men do to help their partners with the labor process is applying counter pressure on their partner’s body.
Counter pressure helps keep the mother more comfortable while she is pushing the baby out.
Supporting the mother’s back or holding up her legs are great ways to help her out during labor if she asks for it, but they can be really tiring for the dad.
Some dads may find that applying counter pressure can be totally exhausting and because it is difficult to sleep while one’s partner is in labor, dads will be worn out until the baby comes. Some dads have even reported straining muscles when helping with counter pressure. Keep in mind, however, that she is the one pushing out your baby and will probably be in a lot more pain than you for a lot longer.
8 Mommy’s Pain
On that previous note, mothers are in a ton of pain when they are in labor. Even contractions can be extremely painful. If a woman gives birth naturally, she can often feel everything as the baby is pushed out, as her tissue tears, etc.
Seeing one’s partner in such a large amount of pain can be really difficult for some men to watch—especially because there isn't a whole lot men can do to help their partners when she is giving birth.
Sure, dads can offer a hand to squeeze, but how much relief does that really provide for the mother as she pushes a head out a very small hole in her body? The best thing a dad can do to help his partner with the pain is to try to keep her distracted and to be as supportive as possible.
7 Remember, She Is Not The Same Person During Labor
Keep in mind that because a mother is in a ton of pain and maybe even on some medications while she is in labor that she probably will not be acting entirely like herself. She might be more easily annoyed. She might shoot her partner scary looks from the bed. She might be very sharp-tongued.
Some women hate when people touch them while they are in labor too, so that is something to look out for.
Her anger or frustration might not be rational at all, but it is always better to find the cause of her irritation and stop doing it.
Also, dads need to remember that they should not take any harsh remarks from their partner too seriously at that moment in time because both partners are under a lot of stress. Be prepared to stick by her side no matter what she says.
6 It’s A Mess
Birth is by no means a pretty process. It is messy, it is uncomfortable and it can even be pretty gross. The fluids start when a woman’s water breaks. When a couple arrives at the hospital, women are often hooked up to an IV to stay hydrated. Once women are really asked to push, they may poop on the delivery table. There may be lots of sweat and tears. When babies finally come out, they often look messy and gross.
Luckily, most moms cannot see the amount of blood that comes out of their hoo-ha after delivering a baby—unfortunately, dads can. If a dad is squeamish or gets queasy around blood, perhaps he should try to hang out around the top of the bed instead of being around all the action.
5 Baby Cheese
When the baby first comes out of the womb, it is covered in something that looks kind of like a chunky cream cheese. This stuff is called vernix. Vernix protects the baby’s skin while it is the womb, as amniotic fluid is acidic. I
t also keeps their skin dry and prevents them from looking like a prune when they are born. It makes the delivery process easier for mom too because it acts as a lubricant.
If a baby is overdue, it is likely there will not be any vernix at all. Doctors usually rub the vernix off of the newborn instead of giving them a bath right away because the vernix is good for the baby’s skin. So, do not be alarmed when a baby comes out covered in a cheesy spread.
4 Mind Off The Matter
As mentioned earlier, because the mom is in so much pain and may be getting very impatient for the baby to come, one of the most important things a dad can do is distract his partner. Because labor can take hours and hours, it can get tedious after a while. Dads can try to keep their partners’ mind elsewhere.
If a woman has an epidural, she will need less physical support and more mental support. Playing games, listening to music, talking and watching TV are all good ways to help keep the mom a bit distracted from the matter at hand. If she can walk around and it is allowed, take her on a walk around the hospital. There are lots of different ways to keep a woman in labor distracted.
3 Emotional Rollercoaster
Many dads are surprised by how many emotions they feel during the labor process and by the time they get to hold their baby for the first time. They are stressed when they are bringing their partner to the hospital. They are nervous and anxious when they first talk to the doctor. During the actual pushing part, dads may be freaked out, concerned, worried and any number of emotions.
For many mothers, after they deliver their baby they appear relieved, smiling and exhausted. For dads, when they see their baby for the first time, they may feel overwhelmed by the new responsibility they will have or be emotional after everything they just witnessed. Some men even cry a lot while others do not cry at all. Either way, expressing some emotion after meeting a baby for the first time is okay.
2 Bring The Love
As stated earlier, one of the best things a dad can do is show his support for his partner. A big way to support one’s partner is to express love.
Once that little baby is out, dads should be bringing the love—not only to their new baby but to their partner as well.
Some men opt to bring their partner chocolate and flowers after the birth of their baby because the mom just did something really difficult.
While that is not always necessary, it is something that would always be appreciated. Furthermore, even though new dads may feel totally overwhelmed when they hold their baby for the first time, they generally will feel an overwhelming wave of love for that little one—and after everything they just went through, dads feel it is all worth it.
1 It’s Not Over
Just because labor is over does not mean a dad’s hospital responsibilities are over. After the baby is born, the dad should update the people he needs to—in some cases a dad should also ward off visitors. He should continue being super supportive of his partner as she is doing many things for the first time like breastfeeding or going to the bathroom after giving birth. Keep in mind that both the mother and the baby are exhausted and need to recover after the delivery.
While dads need some recovery time too, continuing to be supportive of one’s partner is probably the best way to score some much-needed recovery time for dad. Furthermore, once that little baby is home, it will be Dad and his partner against the world to raise that baby, so prepare to be even more exhausted.