10 Delivery Room Survival Tips For First-Time Dads From a Cocky Father of Three

Jason Greene fancies himself a delivery-room expert. Here he offers 10 pro-tips to dads on how to survive the birth of their first child.

When baby #1 came along over 8 years ago, I was scared throughout the entire pregnancy.

When my wife finally gave birth, I was jumping around like a rabbit trying to figure out where to stand, what to hold, and how not to contort my face at what I was watching. During the birth of baby #2, I was more knowledgeable about what to expect and what my role would be. For baby #3, I felt like the doctor could probably step aside and let me do the work. I had it covered. In fact, it was hard not to act cocky as my wife and I walked up and down the labor and delivery ward hallway during my son’s birth.

There were other expectant couples walking the hallway as well, and the looks on the guys’ faces were familiar—they were the same ones that I had many years earlier—frightened and tense. In contrast, my wife and I were smiling and having conversations about a variety of things, including sports, politics, professional wrestling, work, movies, and, of course, baby related things.

As we walked past the other couples, I would smile and nod to the other dads, but man, the dads looked terrible. I’d also liked to add that my wife was way tougher than their partners. She looked like she was warming up for the New York Marathon while the other women were complaining about this and that and doubling over in pain and what have you.

Now, being as I’m a cocky and weathered veteran of three vaginal births, I feel it would be completely wrong for me to not share my golden nuggets of wisdom with all you expectant dads out there, so here are my Top Ten Delivery Room Tips:

  1. Don’t say anything stupid. You know what I’m talking about here. Guys, we say dumb stuff all the time. Experts say that men think about sex every 7 minutes. We probably say something idiotic every 5 minutes. There will come a time during the labor that you’ll feel the need to rip a funny comment. Don’t do it! It is a great idea to keep things light now and then, but keep it within reason.  For my first baby’s birth, I thought I would go in with a ton of jokes to keep things happy and help my wife take her mind off the pain. It wasn’t a good thought. I’m surprised that I made it through alive.
  2. It’s all about comparisons. Forget everything you’ve ever been told about raising kids and remember this: It isn’t about how hard kids work at things and how pleased they are with their finished product; it’s all about how they match up to other kids. You parents know what I’m talking about. Sure, we try not to do it, but rightly or wrongly, we make comparisons as a form of motivation. Those moments just before your child takes its first breath is no different. So go ahead and point out to your partner some pregnant woman who is not looking her best… Okay, enough of being nice—point out a pregnant woman that looks terrible (you know, with her hair all a mess, bright red face, cussing and staggering) and assure your partner that she doesn’t look, act, smell, or sound anything like that. Even if she looks worse than the other women, tell her how great she looks. She won’t believe you, but in the end, she’ll appreciate it.
  3. Give your non-throwing arm to her for help. I’m a righty and so anytime my wife needed anything, I offered my left arm. This doesn’t just apply to giving her something to grab onto, it also goes for picking things up. Your arms will get a workout, so be careful. Also stretch when nobody is looking.
  4. Do not rub her back in circles. Apparently this drives women crazy! For some reason, we men feel like in order to help someone calm down, we should rub their backs in a big oval. Who likes a back rub like that? You’ve got to switch it up a bit. Try the oval and then take Miagi’s advice and go “up down,” (but not “wax on wax off.”). Go ahead and give a little light massage as well. She’ll have a few knots back there. Don’t get in there and rub too hard though. She might swear at you. Which brings us to number 5…?
  5. If you get yelled at, don’t worry. All yellings make for great stories later on. It won’t feel good at the time, but don’t take it personally. Get some tough skin because she’s about to pass your kid through a tiny opening.
  6. You need to know the hospital. I’m not talking about how to get there, because common sense should tell you that you should have figured that one out. I’m talking about knowing the hospital like the back of your hand. At some point, you are going to need to use the bathroom, get a snack, or get a drink. Most rooms have bathrooms in them so that shouldn’t be a problem. But if there isn’t one or if you’re not allowed to use the in-room bathrooms, then you need to know where the closest one is. Sometimes the labor can last a while and you’ll have a rare moment to step out. Hit up that vending machine while you’re at it. But remember, even if labor is slow, everything has to be done quickly. You might miss something, or worse, you might cause your partner unnecessary irritation (see Number 5).
  7. Pack some snacks. Who can work on an empty stomach? This does not take place of the vending machine comment above, because you’ll want that variety. Pack some power bars and some drinks. It could be a long bumpy ride. Oh, and your wife might want something too.
  8. You’ll also want to pack deodorant and a clean shirt. Many people will come into contact with you throughout the day. Go easy on them by not smelling like a gym.
  9. Bring some stuff for her, too. Your partner might want the following items, so have them ready for her right away. A hair holder, juice box, piece of chocolate, slippers, a nurse, or make-up.
  10. It is an out-of-body experience and the greatest moment of your life. So even though it is a tense situation, try to find the joy in it. Notice I said “joy” and not “enjoy.” If you’re enjoying this painful process, it’ll probably seem and little weird and you’ll be in trouble. Keep your phone and camera charged because you’ll want to share the amazing moment with everyone.

In the end, as long as mother and baby are healthy, that’s what really matters. Don’t belittle your role though. Face it—without you, the day probably wouldn’t have been possible. Your main job throughout the process is one of encourager and coach, but it’s also your day. A day you share with a woman you love and a new child that you’ll shower with affection and care.

 

Originally appeared at TheJasonGreene.com

 

Image of baby after delivery courtesy of Shutterstock

 

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About Jason Greene

8 years ago, my family made the choice that I would be the one to stay at home with the kids. 3 kids later we still believe it was the best choice. I now navigate my days helping with homework, running kids around, coaching sports, and doing chores. Read more at TheJasonGreene.com and follow Jason on Twitter @TheJasonGreene.

Comments

  1. I wish I had read this towards the end of last week when my buddy Marc was freaking out about the arrival of his son. It would have come in handy for him :) I’ll be sure to hold on to this for the next baby in my circle of friends… or in the event that I find myself preggers at some point. Thanks!

  2. Joanna Schroeder says:

    I’m sorry, but this cracked me up. I’ve given birth twice and I can attest to the fact that most of this is true.

  3. I would also add that you should be prepared to change your first diaper before the kid is born in the event your partner opts for the epidural. She will be numb from the waist down and feeling random “pressure” and sometimes that is not from the baby coming.
    If she is less than thrilled asking a nurse to clean her backside after the inevitable bm be ready to take that on yourself. The hard part is not the actual clean up, it’s in trying to not show any signs of disgust while doing so.

  4. 11- Do not let the anesthesiologist cross the threshold of the room, if the baby was born without his assistance- I really and truly had a “don’t come in” fight with one after the birth of the second child- much to the amusement of the nurses… got so bad I announced aloud “you will have to sue me to see a dime and all these people are witnesses”
    12- Check the bill and use the overcharges as leverage to get your deductible reduced- or offer to ask your insurance company for a share in the savings.
    13- If men had to give birth, dinosaurs would rule the earth.

  5. And don’t forget to tell all men not to invite their mom and dad and male visitors in the room when she is pushing and breastfeeding. Protect her privacy. You don’t want her to be angry later when she finds that, you sneaked your dad in there while her va ja jay was uncovered, baby or not!!

  6. I liked this article a lot, some really good advice in there and packing a nurse should be allowed. However, I want to nitpick on a couple of things. I know you ate cocky with good reason but the bit at the end about it not happening without you, is only applicable to your situation. Loads of women give birth without that help so desperately needed. Also, I know it is a joke but every often I read an account of a man remarking about how much tougher their wife is compared to the others in the room but that isn’t fair in the least. If you went through it, you wouldn’t be judging how an individual copes with a situation. I don’t like that smug ‘my partner can handle it better than yours’ attitude that sometimes crops up , even in jest

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