What to expect in the delivery room for dads

It’s tough being a partner to a Super-soldier when you yourself are a mere ordinary person. 

It’s difficult to stand back and watch Captain America do all the heavy lifting, feats of bravery and acts of courage while you stand on the sideline, trying to offer words of encouragement, support and generally trying to not get in the way.

Yet this is sometimes how it feels when your wife (i.e. Captain America) is going through the process of labor.

Now I have the privilege to be married to such a character, not a Marvel creation but a real life in your face superhero who has given birth to 5 beautiful babies, even despite that some of them look a lot like me! 

Being that I have been a reliable sidekick during this time I feel qualified to offer my top 10 points of advice to future fathers and delivery partners.

Having a baby is simple right? 

You get a sign and your wife turns to you in a semi-dramatic manner with a loving expression and says, ‘it’s happening’ you drive to the hospital. 

You wait tentatively in the monochromatic anti-bacterial sterility of the waiting room.  Finally, the nurse arrives and says, ‘Mr. Roman?’ At first your confused thinking, my dad is not here, until you quickly realize you are a grown man and she means you! 

‘Yes?’, you quizzically respond slowly rising from the plastic padded chair.

‘You have a baby!’ 

‘Wonderful!’ you exclaim! Cue handing out cigars to all the other expectant fathers around you in the waiting room.

‘Well done!’, says one of the recipients of Havana’s finest tobacco exports as he commendably slaps you across the shoulder.

You rush is to see mother and child immaculately presented.  Your wife has even had time to fix up her hair!  Wow, this is just how you had hoped it would be.

At this point the needle scratched desperately across the record. 

This 1950’s presentation of childbirth has brought to you today by your IMAGINATION and the letter X! 

As in this isn’t how it is.  The reality of childbirth is an anxious, sweaty, shouty and at time expletive-laden experience! 

So, brace yourself Dorothy, you’re not wearing those ruby slippers anymore, you’re going in.

Lace up your boots dude and have a read through my advice to you! 

how to help your wife in labor


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Do your homework

Having a baby can sometimes feel like you are so out of your depth and you don’t know where to begin. 

Do you remember that time your Sunday soccer team took on those guys who play in the amateur league? 

Or that time you stripped that engine part off of your car or motorcycle and wasn’t sure why you had so many parts left over and the vehicle is now more broken than before? 

Or that time you took on your 10-year-old nephew at Call of Duty on the games machine and got torn to ribbons in a hail of pixel bullets? 

Yep that’s how this can feel sometimes, over your head and in deep water. 

There is hope though.

The best way and only way of dealing with this situation is being informed. 

So, you need to understand what ‘having a baby’ playbook is?  What are the 3 stages of pregnancy or Trimesters? 

What happens to your wife and what can you expect during the delivery? 

The biggest challenge for me was understanding the actual birth process itself and what to expect when being admitted to the anti-natal unit. 

What are the various pain relief options?  It felt bewildering at first.  Having an awareness of the process and options empowers you and your partner.

Dude, you got to read.  It’s that simple, and the way I overcame this was to read up during lunch breaks on the internet (you’re already ahead!). 

If your partner is anything like mine she’ll have a number of books lying about on the subject. 

I found this book incredibly helpful along with talking to my wife about it really helped in getting a crash course. 

I then just topped up my understanding by lunchtime research as I didn’t feel like taking baby books with me to work, or reading pregnancy or childbirth books on the train. 

So I covered it off by getting the core understanding from my wife and the rest from the net. 

So by the time we got to the hospital we both knew the having a baby process and kind of what to expect.

For those who would like to take an online course for couples, We found this one to be excellent, with 4 kids to arrange childcare for it just made sense to do this together at a time when we could manage and in small chunks around our other commitments.

Where is the Hospital anyway?

Again, it sounds obvious right, but when you have the good news that you guys need to get to the hospital pronto it can make you slightly anxious and nervous. 

So, it’s good to be prepared for labor, especially if you are new to the neighborhood or the area where the hospital is located. 

Do you know what are the best routes to the hospital?  Do you know where the birthing center is? 

Do you know where to park?  Do you need change for the meters?  I ask because all of these applied to us.

The hospital section where we needed to go was slightly separate from the main building.

They also have a separate parking lot and its free if you have the correct ticket and parked in the correct area. 

We checked out our hospital so once again this wasn’t a headache for us to contend with, as we knew where to go. 

The last thing anyone needs when arriving at the hospital is getting lost on route to hospital and then being confused as to where to go when you’re there? 

If you arrive like we did early hours of the morning there is no one really around and you want to focus on getting out of this car and into the hospital. 

Do a dry run either with your partner or by yourself.  Honestly, you’ll be glad you did.

Organize the man bag

You know you hear a lot about the hospital bag and preparing for the birth but something I learnt from my wife which is not immediately obvious is that; you need to have some stuff packed also. 

You don’t know how long you’re going to be at the hospital until your baby decides to make an appearance and if the kid is anything like me, then baby is going to take its own sweet time.

Unknown to me, in her stuff my wife had packed me some snacks, breakfast bars, gum, a charging cable for my phone, a toothbrush and a couple of issues of Road and Track magazine. 

There is a reason I married this woman.  

We were in the hospital for hours and hours and those little supplies kept me going. 

It’s a small detail but it really helped me get through hours of wait.  There is only so much staring at the wall or watching your wife sleep you can do.

Kiddie care

If you have little ones who need care while you going in to have a baby then arrange it. 

Speak to whomever it is you have conned (just kidding) into watching over your little angel or angels.    

Also, have a back-up sitter as you never know Grandma, Auntie or Uncle or whomever you lined up may feel unwell that particular day and you may need to get a sub.

Get those favors called in!

Make arrangements but most importantly speak to your little ones and run it past them that Uncle or Auntie or Grandma will be over when it’s time for baby to come to look after them. 

Surprises are nice but sudden changes for kids are sometimes unpleasant, so work with them to get them used to the idea. 

We also decided to have sitters stay at our place rather then send the kids elsewhere as our home was more convenient and its less change for kids.

We also prepared our kids for the arrival of a sibling. 

This shouldn’t be overlooked as some kids can get a little jealous of having to share mommy or not being the focus of all the attention. 

Introduce them to the idea and make a little fuss over them so they join you in the excitement of meeting this new addition to the family.

Most of our kids were fine but I do remember my wife buying our 2nd daughter a baby of her own to name and look after so she was used to the kinds of things the new baby would need from us. 

I’m not that smart to do something like that but I guess clever enough to marry a woman who is.

Be attentive

You remember when we spoke about being the sidekick? 

Well, this is when you come into your own.  If your partner is talking to you or in pain trying to say something – pay attention dummy! 

Get off your phone and put a pause on getting those sports briefings for 2 minutes (come on don’t be that guy and give us a bad name). 

Listen, make eye contact and be observant, and yes you may have heard it all and not really have an answer but give her the time.  If there is a time to listen its now, so summon some compassion and listen. 

A rule my Dad told me that worked well was that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk.  Be present, be supportive and root for her.

Be sympathetic without being condescending

As mentioned previously it’s hard to watch your partner go through super-human feats of pain management and resilience. 

Much worse can lie ahead and it’s important that your support her through this time. 

We as dudes can’t ever really understand the type of pain labor brings but they don’t call it labor without reason. 

It’s a hard-painful process and the last thing your partner needs is a disinterested dismissive supporter. 

You need to be on top of your game and for the hours you’re in labor you need to perform and that means be caring supportive and understanding. 

If you’re going to be there, then REALLY be there for her! 

Soothe her, tell her it’s going to be ok, tell her she can do this. 

Don’t say; millions of women have kids every day, what’s the problem!  Don’t dismiss the task in hand. 

This is a real challenge for her and we as men don’t have to go through this.  So, think about what you’re going to say and don’t make us look bad. 

Don’t make the challenge ahead into an insurmountable ordeal.  It’s going to be tough but she can do this and you can support her through it. 

Be a team.

It’s not all about you

Ok, I’ll let you into a little secret. 

Having a baby is hard work all around, no kidding, right? 

No matter what anyone tells you its hard work, and you read it here first remember that. 

It’s a difficult and challenging time, it’s tiring, sometimes you get a little underappreciated as the sidekick.  Sometimes you’re in the way and sometimes you get the wrong thing out of the baby bag or say the wrong thing at the wrong time. 

It happens. 

You may receive the stare of death from your partner or the or the stare of doom from a midwife when your actions place you firmly in the doofus category.

‘Where did this poor woman get this guy?’ im sure people would be thinking.

You might even get a little bruised during this whole process.  A distinct lack of sleep compounds matters further against you and you might be a little sensitive.

HOWEVER, as obvious as this sounds, you really need to soldier through this one. 

You could take a leaf out of our British cousins’ book and have a stiff upper lip, you know, keep calm and carry on and all that good stuff. 

It’s good advice.

Don’t get all touchy sensitive about yourself as this moment is just a little bit bigger than you.

Yep, it’s time to strap on those big boy boots and take the rough with the smooth. 

This is about her and honestly, the whole labor situation is a weird one for everyone. 

Going through labor puts you, and more importantly her in a strange mindset. 

People react differently and you just need to see the bigger picture. 

Anytime you feel a little hard done by, try to think what she is going through and think about what she has to contend with over the next few hours. 

Get some perspective.

It’s going to be all good at the end and you just need to get through it together with her onside. 

Just remember dude you have the better part of the deal.

How to assert yourself in hospital without being a dick – 3 P’s

There will come a time when you’ll need to stand on a bridge alone separating your fellowship and a fire breathing evil demon spawn, and you will have to stamp your authority, slam your staff into the ground and tell this unspeakable evil, ‘You shall not pass! 

Ok I’m being a touch over dramatic

No wizards, demons or pointy hats are involved in reality.  #

Although sometimes dealing with hospital staff isn’t as pleasant an experience as dealing with a fire breathing hell-spawn. 

Things can get awkward. 

Hospital staff like everyone else are doing tough jobs and like everyone else can have good days and bad days. 

You have to also keep in mind that although for you this is a ‘magical’ experience for the hospital staff it’s just another day at work. 

Sometimes people can become indifferent or a appear bit uncaring, it happens and so we need to deal with it. 

You can bump into a nurse or doctor who has the bedside manner akin to a grumpy teenager than a hospital worker whose actual job it is to look out for you.

Polite, Persistent and Persuasive those are the magical 3 P’s. 

I found sometimes you have to be a little persistent when speaking with hospital staff. 

Yes, you may have to hound them politely a little to get stuff done especially at night in the early hours.  Be super polite! 

Extra polite and smile damn it but make sure your all about my 3 P’s.   

Polite, Persistent and Persuasive. 

Come on you managed to convince this sweet girl to marry your useless ass, you can surely muster the charisma to get a extra blanket or tens machine from the duty nurse.

Keep in mind and remember you are not the only ones having a baby, so it can’t be all about you and your partner.

Be considerate but also you need to be an advocate for your partner. 

I found particularly when letting them know about pain, unusual sensations, breaking of waters, the frequency of contractions, urges to push or even getting a blanket you needed to try extra hard if it was a busy night. 

3 P’s dude, 3 P’s and doors will open for you.

Fortunately, having been through this a number of times we only had one or two really difficult incidents. 

One particular delivery was exceptionally difficult as we were being looked after by an older nurse.   She had coke bottle bottom thick glasses and was old enough to be my grandmother and way over retirement age. 

She was probably super slick in her day but now she had adopted the demeanor of a tired grumpy old matron from the Victorian era. 

Man, she made everything so difficult.  She was abrupt, rude, commanding, and to top it off wouldn’t believe my wife when she was expressing that we were close to having this baby… like NOW!

This was probably the hardest time as we needed this nurse to be onside and also make sure she was listening. 

I had to shield my wife from whatever rubbish the midwife was saying in her rude manner and filter it down.  I also had to convey in no uncertain terms how my wife was feeling and get the grumpy midwife to act! 

Let’s just say I was maxed out and we did our best to get through it the best we could.  We were almost to the point where I did have had to ask for another midwife but the staff was limited at 3 am so we were stuck. 

Lucky for us we were being moved into a delivery room and this also meant we could leave the grumpy midwife’s err ‘care’.

At the same time my wife exclaimed ‘We are having the baby!’  The old midwife literally shouted at us, no you are not!’  WTF!!?? 

‘Yes, I am and if we don’t move right NOW, we are having the baby in this hallway’, shouted back my poor wife.  I felt so bad that my wife was dealing with this but this wasn’t the time to freak out.

My wife took over and said to me to get a chair so I could wheel her into the delivery room! 
I was on it like the military. 

Fortunately, a room was already scheduled for us and we could just get into it and start the delivery and at the same time get rid of this tired old leather hearted midwife. 

We escaped and had a beautiful daughter within 20 minutes of my wife taking over and then getting some real help! 

Stuff happens.

This story isn’t meant to scare you.  Just be prepared. 

Remember to be polite, persistent and persuasive.  Just remember there are other people around you and other little babies on their way. 

Be considerate but be a useful sidekick!  That’s your job and you can do it.

Survival for the long haul

I am going to have to level with you. 

I don’t function at my best without sleep and being stressed and unless your navy seal I don’t think most of us do. 

So, give yourself every chance to be at your best and here are my tips.

Baby bag? 

Make sure you add in your essentials for the long haul. 

As mentioned previously my wife packed me stuff the first time around and subsequently, we always pack my key survival items to combat boredom or waiting, not having my phone or being a little hungry. 

Me being at my best helps me be the best sidekick I can be and that makes it easier for her.

Rest when you can. 

When my wife would close her eyes and rest, that would be my cue to do the same. 

Catch rest whenever you can as you don’t know how long you’re going to be there for. 

Now saying this don’t be that guy snoring away when your partner needs you to do something. 

Be attentive, balance things and understand of course you’re going be a little tired, it goes with the territory.

Keep your partner is good spirits as much as you can.  When she wants to talk, talk and when she wants to rest just shut up for a bit. 

When you think she needs distracting start planning her new project, it might be home deco or renovation, or her new gym membership or the car she really wanted… whatever it is now is the time to talk those things through. 

Keeping spirits high also helps you get through this process too. 

Remember she is in discomfort and pain, she might be irritable and now it’s time to earn that medal for valor by sticking through it and taking the rough with the smooth. 

You may get told off by the wife and you’ll need to take that one on the chin. 

Take one for the team as really, she’s the one doing all the hard work.

She’s the Indy 500 driver, you’re pit crew.  Give her the support to get over the finish line.

Don’t freak out during the process

We are all big brave boys around here so I don’t need to remind you that this having a baby can get a little scary, especially for the first time. 

It can be quite a journey and this is when you need to step up. 

Tears, screaming, shouting, expletives, blood sweat and poop, everything is on the table. 

When you go into the maternity wing with your partner, I swear I wouldn’t be surprised to see that guy from the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Octagon, you know the referee, shouting at you. ‘ARE YOU READY!?’  

You guys nod meekly.

‘LET’S GET IT ON!’

Don’t get freaked out and scared when it’s going down, be calm and just carry on. 

You don’t always know what’s happening and for everyone, it’s a new experience. 

However, be comforted in that you are around people who have been there before and do know what they are doing. 

Be supportive toward your partner and watch your facial expressions, which takes a bit of self-awareness. 

Don’t be pulling scared faces because your partner will see that and it could impact her. 

Encourage her on to get through to the next push or the milestone she needs to reach.

Breathe! 

I cannot stress this enough, make a conscious effort to take in oxygen and I don’t mean snatching her Entonox gas pain relief. 

So many dudes take a dive like Mike Tyson socked them out because they have stopped breathing and literally faint.  

It’s only natural that as a compassionate human being seeing someone you care about in so much pain will make you feel for them, and sometimes a dude might hold their breath while their partner delivers this new life. 

The only issue is that the time it takes to go through this process is not fleeting, so dude who’s not taking in enough oxygen drops on the floor like a sack of potatoes. 

Now your partner is freaked out and the midwife has to struggle to get your big ugly ass up!  It’s not a good look, so breathe dude breathe. 

Breathe with her! 

She’ll get you through it!  If you can’t take it, look away or move your head, get away from the business end help up top, just interrupt the scary bit enough to compose yourself.

I will say this. 

If you do go down, it’s ok and it is more common you think.  

Get up compose yourself, take a sip of water and resume your post soldier, we have a job to do here. 

It’s all good no need to dwell on this right now move on and get back to your job.

This is emotional. 

If you cry then cool, try to keep composed, don’t blubber like small kid with a grazed knee.  She may say, ‘Are you crying?!!’ 

A good response is; ‘No baby, this is joy, I just want to see this kid!’  I am giving you the magic for free dude! 

Remember me when you drop that line.

Put crying on hold until the end when you can celebrate together at the appropriate time.  You need to be supportive.

Sudden pain may be something you have to factor for. 

Your wife may inadvertently break your hand during this event.  Pushing this melon through her is quite an ordeal and if she happens to be holding your hand at the time she is contracting and pushing. 

She may crush your hand like she was the Ultimate Warrior (remember him, the WWE guy?) snapping breadsticks. 

Expect it and deal with it grace or humor (read the section on crying again). 

Nothing will quite prepare you for the bone-crushing strength that a small petite woman can exert upon an unexpecting partners hand. 

Especially if you know you weren’t ready and your hand was in an awkward position. 

A bit like a sucker punch, which had you been ready wouldn’t have taken you so badly. 

Dude just pray that she has cut her beautiful nails, serious it hurts.  I swear on all that’s holy I thought my wife had broken my ring finger as it was almost dislocated after a particular strong contraction and push.

Abuse isn’t really meant as actual abuse. 

Sometimes a woman can cuss a fella out so bad it makes you wonder if she ever served in the navy!

Dudes I am going to have to put my cards on the table.

I haven’t experienced this one personally. 

My wife, for the most part, turns into the nicest human being ever, during pregnancy.

During the delivery is thinking about me and showing me kindness. 

I know I am a lucky guy and it motivates me to be better. However, during the course of my 5 kids being delivered.

I have heard other less fortunate souls feel the lashings of a partner less enamored with the pain of childbirth. 

What can I say, and who am I to say anything? 

I can’t possibly understand the process first hand so I guess those of you who do get a bit bruised need to put it down to the tribulations of birth. 

Not everything is your fault (well almost) and you’re not as bad as she may have you believe in that moment. 

Everyone understands where you are at with your lady.  Hang in there buddy.

All I can say is be supportive, kind and stoic.  Get through it best you can and don’t freak out.


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