Labor Day

A primer for what dads should expect in the delivery room.

You have registered for baby gear. You have attended baby classes. You have carved out space in your house for your new star. You have given your input on your wife’s birth plan.

Labor day is rapidly approaching. You might get a phone call about water breaking. You might get woken up in the middle of the night about unbearable contractions. You might be spending one of your last leisurely weekend days before your baby arrives. 
   
Consider the moment your partner tells you “It’s time.” After a potentially frantic trip to the hospital or birth center, you will be about to become a dad. In a matter of hours, you will be holding your newborn. This will be one of the happiest moments of your life. Enjoy the moment. Savor the sights, sounds and feelings that you experience.
   
Some things to keep in mind. Upon arriving at the hospital or birth center, your partner’s comfort remains the main priority as you both settle into the room. Trained people are going to be monitoring the situation; they are used to this. You may be surrounded by doulas, midwives, nurses, doctors and family members. The only panic in the room will probably be from you.
   
Isn’t it odd that guys panic? The woman in labor does all the hard stuff. But, most men panic, whether verbally or silently. Just recognize that once you’re at the hospital or birth center, your panic should end. Staff in the delivery room is trained for every problem that could arise. Good thing, because you didn’t really want to deliver the baby yourself. 
   
And yet, the anxiety and panic you may feel are perfectly normal. These natural feelings have been felt by most expecting fathers since the earliest days men were allowed in the delivery room. Your dad may have been in the hall when you were born, but times have changed for the better. 
   
You need to be there to love and support your partner. You need to help her breathe and comfort her throughout the labor and delivery.
   
Contractions hurt...a lot! Your partner may yell and threaten you that she’ll never have sex again. Still, the most important words to remember in the delivery room are “Yes, Dear.” All of her threats, screams and tears will be replaced with 1,000-watt smiles once your bundle of joy enters the world. You will both laugh about the no-sex-ever-again threats and other dire declarations later in life.
   
The doula, midwife, doctor and obstetrics nurse each does his or her best to follow the birth plan you and your partner agonized over. A birth plan is like a game plan in sports. It is thought out beforehand and discussed with pros who will help you execute the plan play-by-play. The medical staff may ask you to catch the baby as she exits. A nurse may ask you to cut the umbilical cord. A nurse may also tell you to stay out of the way. Just be ready to get off of the bench and execute the easy plays as well as tackle life’s difficulties when you and your partner return home with your newest teammate and raise your tot to be an all-star.