A dad plays a very important role in the delivery room. While the mom is going through the hard physical work, her partner should be by her side, encouraging her, coaching her, providing comfort, and holding her hand while they both meet the precious new member of the family.
That might sound simple, but the circumstances are a lot more complicated, and most men find themselves unprepared and ill-equipped. Some actually end up fainting because they are overpowered by the stress and the sight of birth. Most, though, struggle through the hours of labor and wonder if they are doing enough for their family. That's often because they just aren't aware of what to expect — they don't know about the sleepless night and skipped meals or what the epidural will be like and how the emotions might swing. With a little more knowledge, they might feel more confident and comfortable and better able to be there for the mom in her time of need.
Dads want to be the best partner possible during birth, but they might need some tips to help them out. This list might help in getting them ready for the big event. Here are 20 things dads are never prepared for in the delivery room (that mom should warn him about).
20 Marathon Event
Having a baby can take a really long time. Sometimes moms have no idea how long it could take, and dads certainly need to be warned. Some moms spend days in the early labor stage, and even after they are admitted to the hospital, it might be a day or two until the baby finally arrives.
Although some labors go faster than others, dads need to be prepared for a marathon. They definitely need to pace themselves because they will be needed for the long haul. Some moms might let their partners grab a little nap, but otherwise, it could be a long, grueling event.
19 Cutting The Cord
A huge milestone for dads can be cutting the baby's umbilical cord, but many end up being totally unprepared when the doctor passes over the scissors. That's because the final moments of childbirth can be tiring. It's okay to slow things down, as long as the baby and the mom are healthy.
Research has found that there are benefits to delaying the clamping of the cord for a few minutes until all of the nutrients have flown to the baby. Many doctors will be okay with giving the dad a moment to compose himself. That way he won't be as shaky and worried and maybe even miss his opportunity.
18 If She Goes No. 2
Labor can be really messy. Moms might get it, but dads definitely need a warning — because we're not just talking about the red stuff and amniotic fluid. It can get gross and embarrassing.
Many moms are freaked out by the possibility that they might poop during delivery, but most dads don't even know that's a thing. That means that they are more likely to admit that the mom did it, which can just be scarring. The nurse usually cleans things up pretty quickly, but the dad might need to be warned about the possible defecation so he can keep his reaction to himself.
17 Seeing Their Partner In Pain
Childbirth is painful — that's true even for women who plan to have an epidural and those who have C-sections, since the pain can be worse afterward. For some men, it can be really difficult to watch their partner go through such a painful experience; it can break their hearts.
The problem with labor and delivery is that things get a lot worse before they get better, and sometimes it's hard to see an end in sight. Many men would do anything to go through the pain themselves and save their loved one from the agony. But it's something only moms can go through, and they need their partner by their side to give them support.
16 Wondering Why Their Baby Is Covered In Gunk
The sight of a newborn baby is beautiful, but it can be a little frightening if you don't have any warning first. That's why moms need to let the dad know that a newborn doesn't look his best right after coming out of the birth canal.
Some babies end up with bruises or misshapen head, although those go back to normal. They also come out covered in a white substance known as vernix. The coating protects the baby's skin in the womb, and it starts to rub off at the end of pregnancy. But it can be a little alarming to see a baby covered in white gunk if you aren't expecting it.
15 The Epidural Needle
After going through the pain of contractions, moms relish the sight of the anesthesiologist. They have to get their back in a 'C' position and hold still, but they don't have to see the needle. Unfortunately, their partners do, and it might be best if they were warned about the super long stick.
Many men freak out a little when they see the epidural needle, and the ones that aren't so smart voice their concerns. That can make it harder for the mom to keep it cool, so we definitely suggest that they keep their mouths shut. Yes, it's long, but the mom doesn't need to know that.
14 Crowning Glory
Some people believe that the moment a baby crowns is glorious, but others can find it pretty alarming. The moment is a big deal, since it means that the baby's head is about to come out. Some moms push for hours to get to the moment, and from there the little one will soon arrive.
But this is a very private area that becomes stretched and often torn in the process. Some moms worry that their partners will never think of them the same way again, so they warn them against taking a glimpse at the baby as she crowns.
13 Mom's Rage At Dad
Moms go through a lot of emotions during labor and delivery. Part of that is because of the hormones coursing through their bodies during childbirth and to prepare for motherhood. Dads might expect some tears, as they probably dealt with some during the pregnancy. But they could be alarmed to hear rage directed at them during the delivery.
It's kind of common for a woman to get mad at the man who got her pregnant when she is in the midst of labor pains. More than that, she can get irritated at the littlest slight. She's going to be emotional, and she should warn her partner that she might say something during the labor that she doesn't really mean.
12 Natural Induction Methods
Sometimes, moms need a hand in getting their labor started or get it going faster. The dad can be a help in this, but he might need a warning. He might some of the ideas—like getting busy in the bedroom—but others could be a little less appealing.
Some moms try spicy foods to get things going, and some go on family walks for days to try to get the baby to move into the right position. Some people these days do a dance routine to help things along. There are a lot of options, and moms should talk about them with their partner to see what works for them.
11 Making Medical Decisions Together
Many dads like the idea of leaving the medical decisions during labor and delivery to the woman doing the work. But it's really important for the two to talk about the options and consider things together. The mom might have the final decision, but she will need support from her partner in reaching their decisions and feeling comfortable with what happens.
Dads also need to be warned that there is a possibility that the mom might not be able to make a decision. It's not something that people like to think about, but childbirth can be dangerous. It's a good idea to talk through the things that could happen and discuss the mom's wishes, in case she isn't in a position to voice them.
10 Tracking Contractions
Early labor is easier on the mom compared to the painful contractions that come later on. But it might be harder on the dad because many times he has a specific task to deal with. He's usually in charge of keeping track of the contractions.
The doctor will want to know how far apart the contractions are and how long they last. It helps them judge when the best time to head to the hospital is. And they can figure out how the labor is progressing by finding out how that has changed over time. Dads might want to get a pen and paper or download an app to help them because it's a harder task than they might expect.
9 Preparing For Surgery
Whether the mom has a planned C-section or it's an emergency, dads are never fully prepared for the experience. It can be pretty daunting to watch as a loved one is wheeled into surgery, no matter the reason.
Dads are usually allowed to be in the operating room for C-sections, as long as there isn't a grave emergency that requires a lot of speed. The dad will have to change into scrubs and take lots of precautions. Once inside, they will likely be warned to stay by the mom's head and not take a peek at what is going on behind the curtain. It can be an off-putting experience, but they need to be there to support the mom.
8 Missing Meals In Solidarity
There are a lot of things that moms can't do during their labor and delivery, and often that means that the dad has to go without too. The first of those is food. Once a woman is admitted to the hospital, she isn't allowed to eat because of the possibility of needing a C-section. With surgery, there might be an extra risk if there is food in the mom's stomach.
Dads can't eat for other reasons. It's not just because it might be rude to eat in front of their partner, although that is a good one. It can also be hard to take a break from the mom when she needs it. Most dads end up missing at least one meal for the delivery, but it's worth it to support the mom through the experience.
7 Sleepless Nights
Another issue for women during labor is that they can't sleep. Some women get a little rest if they have an epidural, but they don't want to hear their partner snoring while they are struggling with anxiety and pain. Sometimes that can last for days, so childbirth can be exhausting for both moms and dads.
The mom tends to have some adrenalin to get through the experience, but men might struggle more with the lack of sleep. Of course, this is just a precursor to sleepless nights as a parent, but dads need to be warned that going through the labor and delivery can be a long, exhausting process, and they need to get some good sleep beforehand to be prepared.
6 No Sense Of Centimeters
Doctors and nurses will use a lot of jargon during childbirth. Many times women have prepared themselves by reading books and articles about the delivery, but sometimes the dad isn't prepared. If he has no concept of centimeters, then his job is going to be even more difficult, so moms need to warn their partners and maybe take them to a childbirth class.
Moms have to go from a closed birth canal all the way to 10 centimeters before beginning the pushing phase. The nurse will update the mom occasionally, but knowing the truth about those last few centimeters can help the dad understand what is coming and how to coach his partner through the toughest part.
5 What The Grandparents Say And Do
Grandparents are amazing, and we definitely think that they need to get their props. But they can be in the way—or even worse—in the delivery room, and dads need to be prepared to deal with the things that they say and do and maybe even usher them out of the room if necessary.
Most of the time, a mom-to-be will be more willing to have her own parents in the delivery room, but she might feel uncomfortable with the dad's parents. Both, though, can tend to give too many opinions and advice that the parents don't need and won't really appreciate. The nurse can help, but dads might be surprised about the problems that can arise with grandparents during birth.
4 Birth Plan Pressure
Moms and dads experience births in a different way. Moms feel a lot of pressure on themselves to have an ideal scenario that matches with their birth plan. They feel a lot of responsibility for the little life that they have nurtured inside of them, and if things don't go as planned, they can feel like their body has failed them.
Most of the time, dads focus on the outcome and may not have as much of a problem shifting to a new plan when it's needed. But they need to be warned about the emotional side for moms and the pressure that they feel. It's not just about supporting them during the physical issues, but they also have to be there for their partners if they feel disappointed in a change to their birth plan.
3 When Mom Says She Can't Do It Any More
Going through labor and delivery is a long, arduous journey. Many times reach a moment where they think that they can't do it anymore. Sometimes it happens during transition, the hardest stage of labor when the contractions are intense and right on top of each other. For others, it can happen during a protracted session of pushing, which can take hours in some cases.
Most dads would do anything to help their partners through these situations, but there isn't much they can do but encourage the mom. It can be hard to hear that she's reached a breaking point. He needs to be prepared to help her over that final hurdle with love and with strength.
2 Going To The NICU
All a dad wants in the end is a healthy baby and a healthy mom, but sometimes that doesn't happen. A number of babies end up in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because of issues at birth, and that can be unsettling, to say the least.
Some parents go into their labor experience knowing that the NICU is likely, such as when a genetic issue has been identified during the pregnancy or the mom goes into labor really early. But even then, the sensation of seeing a frail little one taken away to be cared for is just all too much. Moms and dads should discuss what to do if the baby goes to the NICU ahead of time, especially since the mom would be recovering and the dad might have to make decisions.
1 Becoming A Dad
Becoming a dad can be a strange and unexpected sensation. Many moms start to feel connected to their baby while it's in the womb, but dads don't always have that bond, especially since they can't feel the baby moving around. But they might just be knocked out with raw emotion when they meet their child in the delivery room.
Men who are strong and stoic through the delivery can turn into mush the second that they hold their first precious child. It's amazing for parents to experience this together, and moms might want to warn their partner and let them know that they are in this amazing thing called parenthood together.
Sources: Mother Rising Birth, Clarks Condensed