Dads during labour: What to do and say
Many dads spend the whole of their partners' pregnancies feeling dazed, confused, and a bit left out. After all, they're not the ones whose bodies are going through major changes; feeling a baby grow and move inside of them; having to watch what they eat, drink, and do. And then there's all the new terminology to get used to - "placenta", "trimester", "meconium"... it's overwhelming!
Antenatal classes can help toward clearing up the mysteries, but put a dad in a room full of pregnant women and their possum-in-the-headlights partners and he's likely to clam up and keep his feelings to himself, along with the majority of the other dads-to-be in the room.
It's perfectly normal to be nervous about attending the birth of your child, especially if it is your first and you've never seen it happen before. A dad-to-be is actually the most valuable asset his partner will have during labour, because he knows her best, and she will look to him for support and strength. That means a dad-to-be's role in the delivery room is extremely important.
But by the time labour is imminent, a dad-to-be might be wishing for the "good old days" when the father skulked around the hospital corridors smoking a pipe while his wife laboured elsewhere. Or he may wish desperately to be involved in the birth, but isn't sure what to expect or how to handle seeing his partner in pain. And besides that, what can he do to help anyway?
Here are 15 tips (from men who have been there!) to help dads-to-be prepare for labour and be useful and relevant in the delivery room.