When the due date for your baby arrives, every part of you may want to panic. Take a big breath and focus on learning how dads-to-be can help on the day of delivery. An important note, though: your role will change as the day goes on, so pay attention to cues.
For months, your partner has been making lists and packing up a bag for the hospital. But when the contractions start, all planning can go out the window. While she’s trying to navigate the pain, you’re in charge of ensuring that everything gets to the hospital with you. Some things are essential. You’ll need proper identification to check in, and you won’t want to forget the collection kit if you’ve decided to bank the baby’s cord blood. Some things aren’t as critical but definitely help the day go well. A favorite pillow can be a comfort, while a charger will keep your phone ready for those precious first pictures. Make sure you know where everything is because you’ll be in charge of everything from the delivery room song list to the ice chips.
You can be a valuable advocate for the mom-to-be by making sure that her needs are met. Hospitals can get chaotic, and once the epidural goes in, your partner won’t be leaving the bed anytime soon. If she needs a nurse, get one. If she needs the doctor, roam the corridors. If she wants more pain medication, get the facts. In some ways, you’ll be an interpreter, especially if the pain gets tough and the doctor doesn’t understand the grunts. Your family and friends will want to know how it’s going, so hold onto the phone so that you can send dispatches from the front.
Cheerleader and Coach
Being supportive won’t be enough. You will need to be a wise, seasoned, Olympic-class coach, even though you have no idea what you’re doing. You’ll be getting a lot of questions, but the more important thing is just to remain calm. Yes, she’s doing it right. No, it’s not too hot in here. Yes, it seems like science should have come up with a better way by now. No, the baby’s still in there. Because you can actually see more of the action than the mother can, she might call on to give some play-on-play narration.
At some point on the day of delivery, the best way dads-to-be can help is to shut up. The time for stoic assurances is over, and you might receive instructions—rudely, no doubt—to remain silent. It’s common, and it’s not something to take personally. You can still be there so that your partner can squeeze your hand to shreds. If you don’t have an active role for a few minutes, give yourself a break to take it all in. It can be terrifying to bring a new life into the world, but it’s also a miraculous experience you don’t want to miss. Everything is about to change for you.