So the big day has finally arrived, you’ve been timing your partner’s contractions for hours and the moment when you get to meet your child for the very first time is fast approaching. As a Father to be, you will no doubt be experiencing a whole range of emotions from fear to excitement. Your role during labor is really important to help your partner feel safe, supported and comfortable in the hours that follow, however there are of course some things that no birthing partner should do or say during labor. Here are just a few of them – don’t make these mistakes!
- Complain about being tired – This is a huge no no. Labor, particularly for first babies can take longer than you might anticipate, so chances are you may well feel pretty tired – after all, waiting endlessly and supporting your partner can be fairly exhausting too. That said, however tired you may be feeling, it’s safe to say that your partner is considerably more tired, and she still has some way to go! So, stifle your yawns, ramp up the caffeine or energy drinks if you need them and keep smiling.
- Complain about the lack of WiFi / charger sockets / phone reception – Whilst it can be a little boring in the early stages of labor, don’t make the mistake of putting on a game with annoying music, cheering when your team score a goal or phoning your mates and laughing loudly. It won’t go down well. Instead, look to take a variety of things to keep you entertained – including headphones, or use the time to chat between contractions.
- Moan about being hungry – Ok, I’m starting to paint a picture of you being incredibly high maintenance here but please take some snacks. There is no guarantee there will be somewhere close by to buy food and whilst breathing her way through contractions the last thing your partner needs is you exclaiming that you’re ‘starving’. If you do bring food in, avoid smelly foods or anything that might trigger her nausea.
- Panic – This one is easier said than done but however panicked, scared or anxious you may feel on the inside, try not to show it on the outside. Your partner will be looking to you for reassurance and support, so a nervous jittery wreck pacing the floor and shouting out ‘WHAT IS THAT?!!’ won’t be helpful.
- Leave her alone – My partner did this a couple of times during the later stages of labor and my anxiety went through the roof. Yes you may have been in there 30 hours and counting, and yes your legs might be getting a little bit stiff but suck it up! The last thing she needs is you wondering off for a coffee at the crucial moment!
- Tell her you ‘know how she feels’– YOU DON’T. My partner once compared my contractions to a poo he had after weeks of constipation – to be frank he is lucky he’s still around to remember this!
- Pressure her to change her birth plan – If you and your partner have taken time to write a birth plan, trust her to know when and IF she needs to change it. Unless she is unable to speak for herself, trust her instincts, even if she has changed her mind and decides she wants the epidural she was set against. Let her lead the way.
- Take embarrassing photos of her in labor without permission – Yes it may be incredibly amusing to see her talking complete jibberish whilst in the zone on gas and air or making funny noises during her latest contraction but if you want her to have a positive labor experience, now is not a good time to test her sense of humour.
- Don’t announce the birth or share pics with friends and family (OR Social media) before she has said that you can – maybe she wants to do it herself? After birth she is likely to be feeling pretty exhausted, vulnerable and emotional and the last thing she needs is for your Auntie Gladys and cousins in Australia to see a photo of her in a trance with her breasts out. Let her pick how and when to announce the new arrival and with an image that she is comfortable to share.
- Ask when you can have sex again….. just don’t!!!
What you CAN do for your partner during labor is reassure her, hold her hand, help her to regulate her breathing and tell her just how proud you are of her. Read here for more tips on how to be a useful birthing partner – remember the calmer and more relaxed she is during labor, the easier she will cope with the contractions (and you may also live to tell the tale!)