DAD, DON’T BUGGER IT UP – COMMON SCREW UPS IN THE LABOUR WARD
No longer the cigar-pending, jumpy but blameless and innocent bystander. Labour is a massive task, requiring the greatest support and it’s dad that’s expected to be up-to-date and on-task.
Having complete and comprehensive labour know-how, whilst remaining entirely peace-loving is dad’s duty. Sounds supernatural, and it is. However, as much as your partner might strive for this hero-status, the stakes are high and it can get dicey.
So, if labour is drawing near and your partner’s a little spooked, show him some compassion and throw the poor guy a bone. Share these common screw ups and it might just rescue you and save him, from the dog house.
For the dads…..
1. Comms plan – get yourself a bat signal
You need your comms strategy ready for the time your partner goes into labour.
Don’t screw it up like we did.
The way that our bat phone worked was, that if busy, my husband was permitted to ignore the first phone call from my mobile. But in an emergency, we agreed that if I called back a second time, immediately, WHATEVER the circumstance, he would pick up.
A good system… if you remember it. I didn’t.
I was at my MIL’s at the time. I’d been experiencing some mild twinges and pangs and decided it was time to call my husband (from the landline!) To my surprise, he didn’t pick up.
The second time I called and didn’t get an answer, my waters broke.. woooosh! all over my MIL’s kitchen floor (luckily I wasn’t on clean-up duty that night).
I called and called from that landline. I later learnt he was in a meeting, and ignoring it, thinking that his persistent mum could surely wait.
I eventually thought to call his assistant, and when I explained my situation, the phone went quiet shortly before she screamed out from the phone, ‘Your wife’s in f**ing labour. You f**ing idiot’.
I would birth within the next hour… a close call, but he made it. Have your comms sorted and stick to it.
2. Don’t be a dummy
This one’s a no-brainer. You wouldn’t go into an exam un-prepped, and nor should you for labour.
Enrol early into pre-natal classes and get equipped. The hospital where you’ve chosen to give birth will hold classes to sort you so you’re first-rate.
3. Don’t eat her food tray
Don’t let good food go to waste, you tell yourself… Don’t. Just don’t.
If a nurse arrives with a food tray for your partner, and she doesn’t want it, ignore your own hunger pains and remove the tray from the room.
Her sense of smell has been heightened through pregnancy, but nothing will compare to her bionic sense of smell in labour. That waft of hot beef and banana custard WILL send her gastric juices hurling. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
4. Don’t bring your B.O into the birth suite
A mild whiff of BO to her will be like the bubbling hot springs of Rotorua. Mask it!
5. Don’t breathe on her….
unless you smell supremely fresh and minty. It won’t matter what expression of love or tender utterance of encouragement you have for her, she will despise the very essence that departs from your lips.
6. You keep track of your Facebook news feed and take a phone call
Yawn. Yawn. Early labour can be dead-set boring. Resist the urge to catch up on some entertainment (or some Zzzs). She will not love you for keeping up-to-date with current news-feeds or for feeling chipper after your quick power nap.
Put your phone away. The slightest glance at your device sends her the message that your attention is divided.
7. You take photos without permission
Some women like a record of their labour, it can be very precious.
But a word of warning:
She might not want a close-up photo of her vagina. You more than anyone in her world are keenly aware of her specific insecurities and the triggers that cause her to feel the most vulnerable. YOU are the bodyguard of her space.
Be super sensitive with your photo timing – and if the time is right, turn the flash off!
8. You leave the room
There is a limited exception here and it’s for a quick pee only (lucky you). The role of a dad-support is one of self-denial, Tibetan monk-style.
Spoiler alert: You’ll be tired, hungry and exhausted.
My advice: You will need to deny yourself, but don’t deny yourself fluids! Support people who are dehydrated, faint. Keep your fluids up and man-up on the rest.
9. You complain about ANYTHING
Plain and simple. Just don’t go there.
10. Don’t answer that work email
Your birthing partner IS your boss.
11. Don’t allow visitors (including your mum) into the birth suite
A birthing mother will despise you if you don’t protect her from outsiders and she’ll never forgive your mother.
12. Don’t talk through her contractions
Once labour is well established, It will take all of her focus to get through each contraction. If you butt into her space with words, it will make it difficult and you might score a quick flick in the face.
If she’s finding it very difficult at the peak of each contraction, a simple ‘you can do it, honey’, is all you need to say. Then shut up.
13. Don’t take it personally
She may snap at you and tell you that you suck.
The truth is she feels safe to lash out at you in a violent way. You can cope and by the time this baby arrives both of you will have forgotten all the brutality and assault.
Fellas, believe me when I tell you that you have got what it takes. This experience will be like nothing you’ve seen before and if you can be there to support your partner, this is a moment that can bring out the very best in you…. but DON’T screw it up. 😉
On behalf of your gorgeous birthing partner…. hugs into the ether,