What NOT to do in the delivery room
DON’T: Pay more attention to the TV than your partner.
She’s giving birth to your child, and she deserves your full attention. Even if you are bored out of your mind (we know, labour can go on for a long time, and there’s not much to do but wait it out), do not get so immersed in the rugby that you tell your partner to “Shhhh” when she’s in the middle of a contraction and you are trying to hear what the announcer is saying. Probably best to just keep the TV off unless she wants it on.
DON’T: Complain about anything.
Seriously, just don’t. Yes, you’re tired too. Your hand probably hurts from her vise-like grip. You’re bored. You want it to be over with. Your butt hurts from the uncomfortable chair. Save all of your complaining for your mates over a beer later, because the delivery room is not the time to give voice to any of these things.
DON’T: Go out for food at a critical moment.
It is definitely important that you stay nourished and hydrated, so you can have the energy to support your partner through the experience of your baby’s birth. But when your partner is dilated to 8cm is not the time to suddenly indulge your craving for a burger. Pack snacks, sports drinks, and water bottles in the labour bag. You can go out for a burger afterward – and get your partner one too, as she might be hungry after all that pushing!
DON’T: Take photos of intimate areas.
Talk to your partner in advance about what she might want recorded. If she wants you to take pics or videos of the birth from the business end, that’s fine. But don’t just go for it without her permission. And don’t even think about showing any of those more private photos to anyone without her say-so. She might not want your parents to see the moment the baby crowned, even if only on the screen of your phone!
DON’T: Fall asleep.
Birth is long and tiring for everyone, and we know dads can get tired too. It’s normal, and you might even need a little nap in the middle of the proceedings. Get your partner’s permission before laying down for 40 winks, and make sure that everyone knows you’re to be woken up if and when things start to progress – or whenever your partner needs your support.
DON’T: Ask her if it hurts.
Because she will hurt you.
DON’T: Spend the whole time on your phone.
It’s okay to send out an update or two to your family during proceedings, but spending the entire labour and delivery playing a game, checking Facebook, or surfing the internet on your phone is not on. Nor is giving people a play-by-play of what’s happening during the delivery. Be present for your partner and your baby. Childbirth is an experience you will want to be there for, even if you are petrified – it’s life-changing and awe-inspiring, and you don’t want to miss a moment.
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Image courtesy of Sharon at Bloom Photography (bloomphotography.co.nz).