Becoming a parent is a big deal.
In fact, it’s a monumental WTF moment.
You can be forgiven for getting sweaty palms in the birth suite as you realise that, uh, you’re about to become a dad.
Don’t get distracted by that thought though, you need to focus on what’s happening in the hospital room.
10 Things Not To Do When Your Partner Is Giving Birth
As the birth partner, you have a very important job to do. You’re charged with making sure your partner is feeling relaxed and safe and positive during the birth.
How to do that will depend on your partner’s personality. You know her best so you’re well placed to work out what you can do to help.
Take a look at Dads-To-Be: A Guide to Labour & How To Support Her for a few ideas of how you can help during the birth.
To help you get on the right track, here are 10 things you definitely shouldn’t do when your partner is in labour:
#1: Don’t Play On Your Phone
Just don’t. Not even for a second. Leave your phone in your bag so you’re not tempted.
Yes, labour can be long. Yes, it can be pretty boring at times.
But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to play a game on your phone. Or check the football score. Or send hilarious birth-related messages to a Whatsapp group chat. Or read the news.
What your partner needs right now is for you to be engaged and present, so don’t reach for your phone.
#2: Don’t Ask How Long It Will Take
If your baby is going to be born by elective c-section and you’re in the operating room, then fine, maybe it’s ok to ask the doctor how long it will be until you meet your baby.
If that’s not the case, then don’t ask. Don’t ask your partner how long she thinks she’ll be in labour for, she doesn’t know. Don’t ask the midwife either, nobody knows.
Labour can be surprisingly quick or incredibly slow. All labours are different. Having a time-checker in the room isn’t going to help, it’s just going to make everybody hate you. And don’t even think about looking at your watch.
#3: Don’t Say She’s Not Trying Hard Enough
This isn’t a game of high school football, you don’t need to play the part of a tough coach.
Even people who have pushed babies out of their vaginas shouldn’t attempt the tough cough act, so you certainly shouldn’t be doing it what with your distinct lack of vagina.
If you want to motivate your partner, tell her she’s doing a great job. Tell her she’s close to meeting your baby. Tell her she’s amazing.
Don’t tell her she’s not pulling her weight. You’ll notice the midwife never says anything like ‘You call that a push? You big sissy.’
#4: Don’t Panic
Whatever you do in the birth room, make sure you stay calm.
Your partner will be looking at your face to read how you’re feeling and she will know if you start to panic. And if you panic, she’ll panic. And, unsurprisingly, panicking isn’t a great way of getting babies out.
You need to stay calm and composed, even if things take a turn in the labour room. No matter what happens, you’re there to be a rock for your partner to lean on. You are there to help her stay calm and feel safe, so make sure you do that.
#5: Don’t Complain
Urgh, it’s so hard to wait, isn’t it? Especially when you’re hungry. And tired. And the chair is uncomfortable. And your legs ache. And you’re missing that football game you wanted to watch.
But, you know what’s harder than all of that? Giving birth to a baby. It might be natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And you know what makes it harder? Having to listen to somebody else complain throughout.
Yeah, that chair might be uncomfortable on your back, but at least you don’t have to push it out of your vagina.
Yeah, you might be tired, but at least you don’t have to give birth to a human being in the next few hours. Yeah, you missed your football game, but, erm, nobody cares. Keep it to yourself.
#6: Don’t Take Things Personally
Ok, it wasn’t nice when she just called you a douchebag. And the expletives that have come out of her mouth are definitely worth remembering. And, admittedly, the looks she keeps giving you are more than a little bit terrifying, but don’t take it personally.
And definitely don’t get into a huff about it. Now is not the time to hold a grudge. She’s experiencing some intense contractions and she’s feeling pretty emotional, so just suck it up and keep being supportive, even when she’s telling you how much she hates you. Remember, she probably doesn’t mean it.
#7: Don’t Live Tweet What’s Happening
Unless your partner is a world famous vlogger who has agreed to livestream the entire experience, don’t share news of what’s happening with the outside world.
Don’t tweet about it, don’t post anything to Facebook and don’t set up a Whatsapp group detailing all the gory details.
What happens in the birth room, stays in the birth room. With a hospital gown revealing her buttocks to the world, your partner isn’t exactly getting much in the way of privacy right now, don’t make that worse.
#8: Don’t Sit In The Waiting Room
This isn’t the 1930s, you’re a modern man and that means you should be firmly planted by your partner’s side throughout the birth.
You’re expected to step up, to be present and to do your bit. Be there for her. She needs you to be, so make sure you are. Don’t step out to get air or take a break, she isn’t getting much in the way of downtime herself. Just be there. Take care of yourself, but make sure your partner is your first priority.
#9: Don’t Forget To Advocate For Her
Make sure you know what she wants. Talk about the birth in advance and make sure you know what her expectations are and what she wants to do in different scenarios.
She won’t be able to advocate for herself during the birth, she’ll be too focused on the job in hand, so it’s your job to speak up on her behalf.
It can be intimidating to be surrounded by medical staff, but speak up and ask plenty of questions so you can stay informed about any decisions being made. Remember, you’re an important part of the birth, too.
#10: Don’t Ask Her What You Should Do
She’s already dealing with so much, she can’t also be in charge of what you’re doing. You need to try and figure it out for yourself, she simply won’t have the mental capacity to take that on.
If you’re lucky, she’ll tell you exactly what she needs but, chances are, she won’t know herself. Lighten her load by taking charge in this department.
Follow the midwife’s lead, try out a few of the things they talked about in your antenatal classes, and make yourself useful. Give massages, tell her she’s amazing, hold her up when she’s tired, just try to help out wherever you can.