I have been in the delivery room twice. The first time was in March of 2013 when my son was born. The second time was a month ago when my daughter was born. Each time was an amazing but unique experience.Because each delivery is unique, it is hard to give advice. My experiences will not be what you experience.
The most important thing that you can do before the due date to prepare for delivery is to attend the birthing classes. For first time parents these classes are very helpful. That doesn’t mean they will be enjoyable, but they do help you understand what to expect when the big day arrives.
You also need to know that you will feel helpless. For me, the most difficult part of the delivery process was seeing my wife in pain, and not being able to do anything to relieve it. Especially when my son was born, and my wife was experienced what is called back labor. This meant she didn’t even have brief moments of relief between the contractions. She was in constant pain for 20 hours. The back rubs and massages did nothing, so I wondered what I my purpose was in the delivery room.
It was this experience that first got me thinking about writing this post. I wanted to help other dads find their place in the delivery room, so they could enjoy the birth of their children.
8 Tips for Dads in the Delivery Room
- Know the birth plan: At least a month before the due date take time with your wife to create a birth plan. A birth plan is a simple one page statement of your preferences for how the delivery should go. You will want to keep it detailed enough to be clear about your intentions, but also simple enough so people can read it quickly. The focus of the birth plan should be on the interventions surrounding the delivery. For instance, does your wife want pain medications or does she want to deliver naturally? You need to know the birth plan so you can be your wife’s advocate in the delivery room.
- Take care of yourself: Even though the day is not about you, it is still essential that you take time to think about your well being. You don’t want to get weak and faint in the delivery room because you became dehydrated, exhausted, or famished. Delivery can be a long process, and even though your wife is the one doing all the work, the ordeal can still take a toll on your body. Make sure you find time to drink water, eat, and sit down. Don’t try to be a tough guy and just work through the pain, because that could lead to you missing out on the birth of your child.
- Update family and friends: With all our technology it is easy to keep the people in our lives updated about what is happening in the delivery room. Your parents, her parents, and the rest of the family want to know what is going on, and so you can take on the role of communicator and let them know through texts and emails how the delivery is going. Two words of caution need to be added. First, don’t lose yourself in Facebook and Twitter. Your 500 closest friends on Facebook don’t need to have a minute by minute update of what is taking place. Keep the updates limited to family and friends. If you don’t call or text a person on a regular basis, then that is a good indication that they don’t need to know the details of what is going on. Second, you don’t need to share everything that is taking place. Cover the basics so the family has an idea of what is happening. They don’t need pictures or video of process. Respect your wife’s dignity and keep things simple and short .
- Know what your wife needs: Talk with your wife. Find out how she is doing and if she needs anything. Rub her back, squeeze her hand, get her water, and support her in any way possible. Having watched my wife go through delivery twice now, I know that it a difficult and painful process. That is why you need to be there for her in any way possible. Do whatever you can to make her as comfortable as she can be.
- Stay connected: There will be many reasons why you will want to check out. One reason will be the nurses that are helping with the delivery. The nurses make up the backbone of the delivery team, and a good nurse is worth her/his weight in gold. Because they are so good at their jobs, it is easy for you to just play spectator. Resist the urge to sit back and watch so you can stay by your wife’s side. A second reason will be the length of the delivery. Obviously the process is grueling for your wife, but it can also be grueling for you. No matter how strong you are, after 10 hours you are going to start to feel the exhaustion set in, and getting off your feet will be all you can think about doing. While it is important to rest when you have the opportunity, don’t disengage from your wife.
- Pray: This is one thing you can do. Pray silently. Pray out loud. Pray for the doctor and nurses. Pray for your wife.Pray for your child. This will help ease your tensions, it will help your wife know you are engaged in the process, and it invites God into one of the most important times of your life.
- Witness what you can: Before my son was born, I didn’t know how much of the birth I wanted to witness. I was afraid that seeing the blood and other fluids might make me sick. Yet, as he was being born I couldn’t help but watch, and I am glad that I did. Seeing him emerge from my wife is a moment I will never forget. I wasn’t able to see as much of my daughter’s birth because I was holding my wife’s hand and encouraging her, but I tried to take in as much as possible. It is amazing how small and fragile they are when they first make their appearance. It is a joy you don’t want to miss.
- Be ready with the camera: You don’t want to be the camera man during the delivery, but after the baby is born you want to be able to take pictures as soon as the delivery team will let you. Keep the camera accessible so when the time comes you can take pictures of your child. Use discretion, your wife is going to be exhausted and exposed, so don’t take pictures of her until she is ready. Those first pictures should all be on the child who was just born. These pictures will be precious memories for your family.
The birth of your children is an amazing experience, and if you are able, you should be a part of it. Your wife will need the support and you will be there to see your baby’s first appearance into the world. That is a moment you don’t want to miss.