This is War: A Dad's Guide to Surviving Labor

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It is not pretty, it is not fun, it is not easy, and it is not your battle. Hate to break it to you, pops, but labor has nothing to do with you whatsoever. When it’s time to welcome your little one into the world, you have two jobs – provide encouragement, and stay out of the way. Here are eight ways to support your partner on delivery day.

1. Take care of your own hygiene. Guys, don’t smell. Bring a change of clothes. Bring your deodorant. Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and gum. While your partner is going through the hardest thing she has ever done, the last thing she wants is for you to lean over her smelling funky. Get it together.

2. Make sure EVERYTHING is packed. And I mean clothes, magazines, games, snacks, baby clothes, baby blankets, chargers for all electronic devices, loose change for the vending machines, etc. Have it packed ahead of time, throw it in the back of your car now so you won’t forget it, and double check that it’s there when you leave for the hospital. If you forget that favorite pair of slippers that your partner was banking on, you will die. Plain and simple.

3. Install the car seat ahead of time. Just get this done. I don’t care if you want to desperately cling to “life before children” and think that putting a car seat base in your car feels like you are being stripped of your freedom. It’s time to buck up, embrace fatherhood for the wonder that it is, and get that base installed. It’s a big thing – the hospital won’t let you leave without a functioning and current car seat, so don’t wait until the baby arrives to put it in.

4. Shut up during your partner’s contractions. One thing I learned when my wife was in labor – contractions suck. When they start getting bad, no matter what coping method your partner decides to use, she’s more than likely not going to want to hear you jabbering on about nothing. Take a break from the talking and let her squeeze your hand until it’s blue.

5. Be an advocate. Your partner is going to need you to step up and communicate with the doctors on her behalf – labor is frustrating, painful and exhausting, so taking that pressure off her will do wonders. Ask questions on her behalf, know what’s going on, and advocate for her needs when they arise.

6. Don’t be selfish. It’s not about you! Quite frankly, I don’t care what your needs and fears are, because labor has nothing to do with you. Your partner is going through the biggest moment of her life – a terrifying, painful moment – so focus on her, make sure she is taken care of, make sure she is getting the attention from everyone else, and keep your fears to yourself. I get it, those fears are real. Nobody is saying they aren’t. But the fears your partner is having are much bigger than your own. This is not the time for you to command the attention of friends and family, leaving your partner with nobody to support her.

7. Follow orders. If the pregnant lady asks for something, you get the pregnant lady what she wants. I don’t care if she asks you to track down a burger at 1 a.m., you figure it out and take care of it. At this point, your job is to be the best marionette you can be, and she pulls the strings. Who’s a good puppet? You are.

8. Stay calm. I left this last for good reason – it’s what I consider to be the most important item on this list. You need to chill out, man. Take a breath, hold her hand, kiss her forehead, but by all means necessary, do not add to the anxiety that she is already feeling.

Dads, I get it – the delivery room is absolutely terrifying, but your partner has it worse. So man up, support her, and give her exactly what she needs from you. You got this.

Related post: The New Dad’s Guide to Surviving Your Wife

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