In the lead up to labor and delivery, most of the attention is on the mom-to-be. After all, she’s carrying the heavier load… literally! Decades ago, it was common for dads to hang out in the waiting room until the doctor came out and announced that the new baby was born. However, a modern dad’s role in labor and delivery has changed, and many dads also have a larger role in raising children in general.
Future dads, it’s okay to admit that you’re feeling anxious, nervous and excited all at once. No one feels completely ready. Don’t sweat it! The best way to calm your nerves and mentally prepare is to get some exercise and clear your mind. Then, review our tips on a dad’s real role in labor & delivery… besides just being the chauffeur to the hospital or birthing center!
1. Be prepared ahead of the due date.
Prepare for the due date like you’d (hopefully) prepare for your upcoming vacation! We mean by packing ahead of time. Pack a bag for her and a bag for you. Packing ahead of time will help make sure you have everything you need during your stay (think phone or tablet chargers) so that you can just focus on your partner and the baby. Also, install the infant car seat ahead of time to make sure that it’s properly installed.
2. Be on the same page about the birth plan.
Beyond just a labor and delivery wish list, a birth plan is also very helpful for improving patient and provider communication. It can also help communication between partners. Many moms-to-be put together a birth plan of all of their goals and wishes before, during and after the birth. Go over the birth plan with your spouse or partner and get on the same page. This will help you know what she wants, prepare for what’s expected, and what’s also unexpected.
3. Know what to expect during pregnancy.
Be a team player throughout the pregnancy. This means educating yourself about pregnancy, attending prenatal care visits and also making healthy lifestyle choices. A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, divided into three trimesters. We have tips for supporting your partner overall and during the first, second and third trimesters.
4. Know what to expect during labor and delivery.
The experience is overwhelming for dads, but it’s important to remain calm and manage your anxiety the best that you can. We’re [almost] sure you’ve heard the saying “practice makes perfect.” With that in mind, try your best to attend childbirth classes and prenatal appointments with your partner so that you feel as knowledgeable as she does about labor and delivery. This will help calm your nerves ahead of the big day. Also, decide if you want to be “hands-on” or if you would rather let the doctor handle it when it comes to instances such as whether or not you want to help cut the umbilical cord after birth.
5. Prepare for the unexpected.
As your partner goes into labor, things could change fast. You have to prepare for the unexpected, too. Many times, an unexpected turn of events can lead to confusion and you may be forced to switch up the birth plan for the safety of your partner or the baby. Be prepared for change and unpredictability throughout the process and try your best to be the calming presence your partner needs if things don’t go according to plan.
6. Take care of yourself.
Practice healthy habits along with your partner. It will encourage her to do the same and will help you both be healthy parents for your little one. This includes eating the right foods, avoiding smoking (both cigarettes and marijuana) and drinking and also exercising.
We want to help you ace the “first father test” on delivery day by being prepared and knowing what a dad’s role in labor and delivery is. All of this will make the experience truly special and something you and your partner will always remember. Plus, being there right after birth will help you bond with your baby from the first seconds and beyond.
If you have additional questions on how you can contribute and be helpful when your partner is ready to deliver the baby, we recommend consulting with your partner’s provider team prior to labor and delivery.