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Dads - Preparing for the Delivery Room

Katlyn Joy | 2, July 2010


Dads - Preparing for the Delivery Room

Being a good labor partner starts before you get to the hospital. Dads should go to the childbirth classes, read at least some books or articles in preparation for the big event and go to the important doctor's visits.

It's key for the father to know what to expect during the labor process. Dad should know the overall birth plan and what the mother's big concerns are such as is she dead-set against episiotomies or trying to avoid an epidural. The couple should discuss possible complications and what her feelings are about different types of interventions. During active labor it will be difficult for her to express her opinions adequately so it's crucial to communicate about these issues beforehand.

Another part of preparation is packing the labor and hospital bags. The father should have his own little hospital bag packed weeks in advance. Have some diversions like cards or magazines, snacks, coins for the vending machines and a list of people to call after the birth.

Prior to the birth, the couple should take a hospital tour to familiarize themselves with the facility, what to expect and where to go when the big moment arrives. Dads should also have the route to the hospital planned as well as an alternate route in case of traffic jams or such delays.

Early Labor

Dads should know how to time contractions and have a good understanding of when it's too early, too late, and the right time to go to the hospital. Most couples err on the side of going too early. During early labor the father's main responsibility is to distract or entertain mom. Go for walks, watch a movie, play games and if it's early enough, eat light meals.
Make sure she's comfortable and keep the mood light and upbeat. You might want to make a few key phone calls to give important folks a heads-up.

Know the signs of when it's definitely time to get into the car and to the hospital. The last few doctor's visits will give ample opportunity to understand the clear cut signs that birth is indeed close.

Active Labor

During active labor, dads main job is to keep mom focused. Her energy may dwindle and with it her ability to stay on task may waver. She might get angry, frightened or even confused sometimes. Dad must be there to keep her from panicking or giving up. Help her maintain her composure, do her breathing exercises and keep her spirits up.

Comfort measures are important now too. Back rubs, foot rubs, brushing her hair, feeding her ice chips and communicating to hospital staff are all Dad duties in active labor. Should complications arise now, it's important for the father to be a liaison between the mother and medical staff. However, nothing is more important than staying calm for mom.

Many fathers worry about becoming queasy during labor. Most do fine. Being prepared for the activity and the sensory details of birth will help. If the nurses and doctor know that the dad has issues with nausea or getting faint in such situations, they can help him deal. They can also shield him from some of the ickier aspects of birthing in many instances. For example, keeping him at mom's head during a Cesarean delivery may help.


When the big moment finally arrives, dad will be multitasking. He has to keep mom comfortable, help her focus and make sure she has a good view of the birth. He also needs to see the big moment himself, and possibly soon after become family photographer.

Different deliveries go differently. Dad might get to cut the cord, or bring baby to mother's arms, or not depending on the physician, how the birth goes and mom's needs.

Immediately after birth, Dad will want to distract Mom while she is being attended to, getting any necessary stitches or just cleaned up. He will also be taking photos, and starting the bonding time with baby and mother. Once everyone's settled in, Dad will need to call all the important friends and family members with all the vital information.

Sometimes a hospital will arrange for Dad to stay in Mom's suite and possibly prepare a nice dinner for the now-enlarged family. Baby may be rooming in with mom, so Dad will have a chance to help out with diaper changes and bringing baby to mother for feedings. He might even get the opportunity to shower and nap!

Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Showing 1 - 10 out of 11 Comments
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sam May 30, 2013 05:55:20 PM ET

21 and 25 weeks to go for 1st child

Ron Sep 30, 2013 09:45:17 PM ET

1 & 1/2 days away from a scheduled c-section. staring to get nervous and question what i should do/ expect. bags are packed, car seat are in, camera is charged and i am as ready as i can be however i cannot get in touch with the feelings of who it will be and if i will do a good job as this is my 1st babies. life will 100% change as i know it and i know this will be a wonderful but hard work. my prayers and best wishes go out to all.

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paul Apr 9, 2013 02:40:45 PM ET

Getting ready for the arrival of our new born....not long to go now :-p

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nick decker Apr 7, 2013 11:22:55 PM ET

I was very nervous,but during the moment when i saw and heard my son i started to tear up from joy and happiness. the insides of my wifes organs laying on her chest as they prepare to put them back in,surprisingly didnt bother me at all. and i cant stand blood or anything like that. just remember once you hear that cry,nothing else matters!

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Navneet Mar 18, 2013 03:56:44 AM ET

Article is informative. 8 week & then i will enjoy happiest moment of my life....

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Gerry Jan 14, 2013 04:50:03 PM ET

7 more months until our new addition to the family. far away still but so excited!

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Todd Dec 3, 2012 12:32:59 AM ET

Jett's coming in a few more weeks i'm a happy man!

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Fakhri Surti May 27, 2012 07:32:17 PM ET

Waiting for our first baby!! a couple of months to go but super excited!!

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Mike Nov 14, 2011 04:09:37 AM ET

Only 3 weeks to go til my first child here daddy luvs u baby girl a dream come true

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>>E Nov 6, 2011 08:58:09 AM ET

Time is getting here for my wife...cant wait for the big moment

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sue knight Jul 7, 2010 03:06:12 AM ET

Now to get my hubby to read it!!!

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