Women usually know exactly what they want their husbands to be doing when labor finally strikes them after the seemingly neverending nine months of pregnancy. For their part, husbands don't always know what is expected of them, but some instinctively go above and beyond at the moment.
The Reddit forum is a great place to find out the exact way that people have reacted in a certain situation. A nervous first-timer asked a question in the Reddit forum about what to do in the delivery room: "My wife will be giving birth to our first child in just a few weeks and I have been scouring the internet to be sure I am up to date on what the father is supposed to do in the delivery room."
The forum exploded with answers, experiences, pieces of advice and jokes as husbands, wives, and midwives talked about their personal experiences. We have compiled the best of them for yourself right here on Babygaga. Check out 20 real-life incidents of what these dads did for their pregnant wives as each of them struggled to bring out their precious baby into the world.
20 Go Where The Baby Goes
Reddit user hebejebez confirms the above point with the comment “Most mommas at that point would prefer the baby wasn't left alone, I know that's not everyone, but all the ones I've spoken to and myself, the second they're in the world they're your priority and daddy's going with them because you physically can't.”
While in the previous comment, the wife made it clear that she wants the husband with her at all times, most mommas seem to want the father with the baby when they are unable to. There is something so magical about a baby being born -- the miracle of birth also includes the transformation of a selfish woman into a selfless mom.
I wouldn’t say that's not without resentment at times as we neglect our own needs. Nothing in our life becomes as important as this child that's totally dependant on you. Yes, we are all selfish, our needs and wants are the only things that concern us - even in a marriage, everything is about our partner understanding us and our needs and when that doesn’t happen, divorces take place.
But when it comes to our baby, our needs and wants -- no matter how desperate they are -- are put aside the baby's needs become the top priority.
Isn’t that by itself a miracle?!
19 Bringing Her Pictures Of The Baby
Here’s a great idea from another Reddit user. “The baby is born the first 5 - 10 minutes of the surgery. They took my son to the other side of the very cold operating room to clean and swaddle him. My husband took pictures to show me. Once the nurses ok'ed it, he brought my son to me. I couldn't hold him, but there were lots of kisses! Then, my baby had to go back to the warming lamp. It took 45 minutes to stitch me back up. And my husband went back and forth bringing me more baby pictures!”
Isn’t that just adorable? In all the commotion that happens pictures are usually forgotten by all. If the mom cannot see the baby, then this thoughtful gesture on the part of her husband will definitely be most appreciated. Not sure whether the hospital staff approves of it though.
18 Dads Should Have Skin-To-Skin Contact, Too!
Daddy ‘jbro73’ talks about the bonding he felt with his daughter, on the day she was born as he waited for his wife to come around. “We had our first daughter on Monday by c-section and this is a perfect description. That hour and a half or so that I held her skin to skin waiting for the epidural effects to wear off of momma was hands down the most amazing thing I will ever do".
Skin to skin or Kangaroo care is especially important for the development of the baby as well for bonding with the parents. As the little one cuddles up to feel his parents’ chest, he/she feels enveloped in their warmth and love, their rhythmic heartbeat calms him down and makes him feel safe.
17 Make Sure The Doctor Is Correct
Reddit user jules623 answers a question where people were wondering if a woman with meds still in her system can feed the baby or whether she should wait for the meds to wear off. Jules also talks about how her husband ensured the baby was weighed and measured correctly. Now that's a helpful task for husband looking to see how they can help out.
Jules says "Yes, she can! I had a repeat c-section a year ago. My husband went with my little girl while she was weighed and measured and within 20 minutes she was back in my arms eating. They didn't bathe her or give her any shots. She was on my boob instantly. She already had the anesthetic and any meds in my system in hers already before she was born and she was fine!”
16 Have The Milk Plan Ready
Another point in the Reddi discussion on fathers in the labor room was about having a baby feeding plan made beforehand. Whether to breastfeed or bottle feed is a personal decision, but if the mother wants to breastfeed and the nurses feed her formula as the mother is still out of it, then it can be very upsetting for the mom.
An experienced father explained in the forum “Please have a plan about feeding before you assume you get to feed the baby. If you plan on breastfeeding, you really need to try to let mom do all the feedings at the hospital bc that stimulates her milk production, which is vital in the first few days. If possible, mom can pump some colostrum prior to birth, which you can feed with a dropper or spoon if mom is not able, but its super important that mom is able to nurse or pump the same times baby is hungry to establish her supply".
15 Change The First Diaper
Guess who gets the honors of cleaning the baby’s first potty- the brave dad who survived the torturous scenes of the labor room! As Reddit user agravain points out “you get to change the first diapers of the "black goo phase"
The first bowel movement of the baby passes stools called the meconium. It is a darkish green and mustard yellow mix that is sticky as tar and difficult to clean off. Meconium is composed of materials ingested during the time the infant spends in the uterus: intestinal cells, lanugo (the cheesy white stuff the baby was covered in), mucus, amniotic fluid, and bile. As the baby drinks breast milk or formula and passes stools later on, they are yellowish in color and much easier to clean up.
14 Keep Friends & Family Away
Reddit user j_a_g learned firsthand that friends and family can become quite unwelcome at the first baby celebration, in the first few hours or days after the kiddo is born. The new parents need some time to celebrate the birth by themselves and bond with the child before they are ready to share him with the rest of the world.
J_a_g says “We just went through our second c-section 2 weeks ago. In order to avoid the friend/family onslaught, we just didn't tell them until we were ready. We didn't get the alone time as a new family with the first kiddo and totally regret it. This time, we spent a few hours together as a family and then put the call out to folks.”
13 Stay With Her After The Big Push
Here is another story where the dad didn’t understand the needs of the wife and child the first time around. He stayed through the labor and when the baby was given to the mom, he thought his job was done.
But problem was that she was still groggy from the meds and couldn't handle the baby. She really needed her husband and finally, a nurse helped her out. So the mom made sure that the next time, he had clear instructions on what was expected of him
Aldermere said “Hubby was there during birth and grandma came in the room right after. Then suddenly everyone left (it seemed like only a few minutes later!) and I was so dopey from the meds I really had to fight to stay alert enough to hold her and I was terrified I would pass out again and she would roll right out of my arms.
I felt abandoned! Finally, a nurse came and offered to take her to the nursery for a couple hours so I could sleep until the meds wore off. So when my son came along 16 years later, I told hubby he absolutely had to stay with me afterward.”
12 Don't Look!
Check out Reddit user ‘bigdpix’ story on how he messed up at his daughter’ birth. There are some things fathers should do and then again, some things they shouldn’t do…like peeking into surgical incisions, effectively burning the images into their minds forever.
"Having gone through this twice, my advice is to NOT be curious and look into the incision. My daughter is 17 now and I can STILL see all those internal colors and textures that blasted my mind when I just HAD to peek. There is enough going on with a new kid and recovering wife to have that image burned into your brain for days. ;)”
11 Cut The Cord
If there is one thing that most men expect to do in the labor room, it is to cut the umbilical cord. This is one of the main acts that can get them involved and be a part of the childbirth wonder. Some men look forward to the snipping, much like cutting the lace at an inauguration, to welcome the little one into this brand new world. Unfortunately, others dread the experience.
Men on Reddit revealed what it really felt like. Crankypants15 is a Reddit user who reveals his experience of cutting the umbilical cord as the men in the Reddit frum discussed their experiences with their pregnant wife during her labor: “OMG the umbilical cord. Man that thing was tough. It was like a rubberized rope.”
10 Help Keep Her Clean
Here is something an expectant dad wouldn’t be expecting on his duty list. This Reddit guy explains to the other guys in the forum “You are in charge of cleaning your wife's c-section wound. Clean it exactly how they said and apply new bandages they supplied. Take good care of your wife while she is healing. Make sure she is good and lazy. She deserves it.”
Frankly, I feel the women who get husbands who actually do such things are really blessed. In many cultures around the world, childbirth and the initial months afterward are purely a woman’s forte, where the mom and baby are helped only by other women like her mother or mother in law. When a husband helps his wife get through the ordeal of childbirth and does something so caring as cleaning and bandaging her c-section wound, it really strengthens their bond and he is able to appreciate what she really went through to bring their baby into this world.
9 Insist On 'The Breathing Thing'
Reddit user Azhatt says “Dad of almost 2yr old here. You do nothing. You stand beside your wife/SO, do the breathing thing if you've had the class. Say "Do you need anything" (implying what you can do, which is get ice/water). When epidural time comes, do not attempt to go see what's going on, the nurse/ doctor will tell you w/out hesitation to get back and sit down.”
All those lessons in the prenatal classes, the breathing techniques...all vanish from the mind when the actual reality of labor hits. Sometimes panic is all that you both feel. But it's up to the husband to stay calm and remind her t breath as they were taught beforehand.
8 Fun Ways To Keep Her Calm
A woman who calls herself “BuffyPilotKnob” on Reddit says, “Keeping the wife calm during the procedure is key. I was freaking during my cesarean, and my husband did the most genius thing possible: he began showing me pictures of puppies and kittens from a Google image search on his phone. I don't know what made him think of that, but I will be forever grateful, it totally calmed me down.”
It looks like the wife was stressed about the upcoming c-section surgery and her husband knew just the way to calm her down. But I doubt this trick would have worked if she was actually in labor. She would have probably snarled at him for even thinking he could distract her with animal pictures while she was contorting in pain.
But the fact that he was by her side and trying all that he could think of - will definitely earn him some brownie points when the storm calms and the baby is snug in the mom's arms.
7 Bring The Baby To Mom
A woman on Reddit with the username carparts_creek reveals a happy memory about her childbearing experience as she advises other men on what to do in such a situation with their wives. “You could bring the baby to your wife while she's in the recovery room and let her do the first feeding, as breastfeeding. My husband did this and it was really nice.”
It is of utmost importance that the mother and baby bond at the earliest. The baby’s breastfeeding instincts are at its highest in the first couple of hours after birth. It is really helpful if the husband makes it a point to get the baby to her at the earliest possible opportunity as the hospital staff may get distracted by other things.
6 Step In When She Can't
Reddit user 'Handshape' talks about how he looked after the baby while his wife was still unconscious after her operation. Their plan was to bring the baby to the mother while she's in the recovery room and let her do the first feeding, as breastfeeding. "That was our first choice, too... but Mrs. Handshape was a real mess after the operation. Even after the first feeding, daddy-baby alone time is highly recommended," he explained.
With all the focus on mom-baby bonding, very little thought is given to dad-baby bonding. Yes, daddy-baby alone time is important! Once the kiddo is done with feeding, tuck up the little one inside your shirt (with a few buttons open) for some skin-to-skin contact.
Let the baby soak up some daddy love as the dad feels ready to take on the whole world, if need be, to protect his little one.
5 Tell The Docs What She Wants
Reddit user, CaptainYes-sarian is a midwife who talks about how husbands can be helpful when the wife is in labor. She also confirms how important skin to skin contact is for babies.
She said “Skin-to-skin with the mum in the hour (or more) immediately after birth is the best possible way to establish breastfeeding. If the bub is well at birth you can ask for him/her to be given straight to mum and left there (as long as your partner is comfortable) until after the first feed.
This is how babies learn to feed and disturbing this delicate process can potentially set you up for problems later on. Trust evolution - it's got us this far, normalize as much as you can my friend.”
4 Never Leave Her Side
Another Reddit user advises a father-to-be based on his own experience - “I would not leave your wife alone for that first hour to spend time with your new baby if she does not want to be left alone.”
If the mom and baby are separated, who should you be with? The mother or the child? I would say the answer depends on what the mother wants. If she wants her husband by her side, then that's where he should be. But if she is happier to have him with the baby, then he should do so to relieve her anxiety.
So how does he know what she wants? No one can read minds. Ask her what she wants you to do. If she is still out due to the meds, then she won’t miss you and she’ll be happier when she wakes up when she knows that you were there with the baby until she was ready to take on the role.
3 Keep The Baby Close
Reddit user Pixelated_Penguin says “Not all c-sections result in maternal/child separation. Neither of mine did. My husband brought me my babies as soon as they finished the Apgaring, just a couple minutes after they were out. The first one I held one-armed with his help, while baby latched onto my chin. The second I couldn't hold because I was trembling badly from the spinal, but I gave him a kiss and my husband kept him close.”
Even if the mother can’t feed the baby yet, it can be a relief for the baby to be held against her skin in the midst of the storm raging around them. I remember the nurse holding the baby next to me as I gazed at him while being stitched up for the episiotomy tear. I wish my husband had been able to do that, but in that particular hospital, they didn't allow men in the labor room.
2 Never Let Her Go
Reddit user BHbaby said ‘“I had two c-sections, both emergency and they were traumatic. Especially the second one, when I had a uterine rupture right before the c-section, which was done with no anesthesia. With anesthesia, it's still very scary (for the first one). I was so happy to have him hold my hand and talk calmly to me. He wasn't in the room on the second one, but it was better, I almost didn't make it. My advice, do not look.”
When husbands are in the room for a c-section, their task is to hold her hand, be the loving husband and calm her down. But looking at her insides and what's happening during the surgery can leave the poor guy with nightmares in the future. So take the above advice and ‘don’t look!’
1 Keep Mom Off Her Feet Postpartum
Once all the hospital drama revolving around the childbirth is over, the dads have plenty more to do. A Reddit user talked about how he helped his wife “They will give your wife some strong pain medicine. Make sure she stays on it at least a week and stays off her damn feet as much as possible. She'll try to do stuff but don't let her.”
Being a new mom is no easy task. From sleepless nights with a crying or feeding baby to leaking breasts and healing wounds, it is a stressful and painful time for the woman involved. She does need all the help she can get. And while all attention is on the baby, she needs someone to pay attention to her needs. Her husband should make sure that she takes all her pain medicines correctly and that she gets adequate sleep and rest as she recovers from her ordeal.