For every mother who goes into labor, there’s a guy out there (and very likely right there in the labor room) who’s having a baby too. I don’t mean that literally. Lots of women have babies without a guy in sight and none of the men becoming new fathers actually have even one single contraction. What I mean is, guys in the labor room are important too. They have an important role to play in supporting the laboring mother and welcoming their new babies, but they also have needs of their own. Here are my top three tips for guys supporting Moms and my top three for how to support Dad, too.
How Dad Can Support Mom:
1. Just be there.
No matter what’s going down in the labor room, your job is to be a supportive presence. You were there when the birth plans were made and swore you’d do your part to uphold them. Do that, but know that labor is never goes exactly as planned and your #1 job is not to be the birth plan police, but to be the one person as invested in your child’s well-being as Mom is. You’re also the one who knows Mom best and the one who has promised to support her through thick and thin. Support comes in many forms and sometimes it’s passive, not active. Just be there.
2. Don’t be bossy.
We’re moving away from the dad-as-coach role and towards a dad-as-partner model of support. No matter what you were taught in your prenatal education class or how often you remind her, Mom won’t forget to breathe. She knows what she needs better than you, so even if she’s miserable and you disagree, when she says, “I don’t need an epidural right now,” it’s her call, not yours. And even if she swore she’d never get one, if she changes her mind and says, “get that epidural NOW!” it’s up to her. Don’t tell her what to do, but support her to make the best decisions for herself.
Related: 8 tips for birth partners
3. Use your muscles.
Nobody gives a better back rub than a dad who knows his wife’s body. One of the all-time best ways to relieve back labor (In addition to getting on your hands-and-knees) is for dad to apply counter pressure at the spot where it hurts the most. Make a fist and apply the flat part between your knuckles to her back using continuous pressure. Another good way to support mom is to literally support her body weight. When she’s in a squat or leaning on the bed or on all fours, wrap your arms around her and help her maintain that position comfortably.
Related: Labor positions to try