Just for Dads
Until today, your most important function seemed to have been back rubs and the Saturday night cheesecake run. But as labor starts, you will see just how pivotal your presence is in the childbirth process.
Coaching Your Team
You'll wear a number of hats as coach — gopher, massage therapist, hall monitor, motivational speaker, and advocate. Your partner must focus completely on the task at hand, and she will rely on your support for quashing distractions and attending to her needs.
Don't be offended if you're told to take your stopwatch and cram it, or if she impatiently shoos you away as you try to regulate her breathing. She still wants you and, more important, needs you by her side. Be flexible, stick with it, and work with her toward your common goal of a beautiful healthy baby.
Reassurance for the Faint of Heart
Birth, both by C-section and vaginally, can be a very blood-soaked scene. Chances are the rush of seeing your baby emerge will overwhelm any aversions to blood and other bodily fluids. But if it doesn't, don't feel bad about taking a moment to collect yourself — outside the delivery room if need be. A nurse or another support person can stand in for you in the meantime. Now is not the time to faint, fall, and get a concussion (although many an expectant dad has passed out in the heat of the moment). One tip — if you are known for getting the whim-whams at the sight of blood, you and your partner should discuss the possibility of your early exit before labor. You might want to have a stand-by coach just in case.
If your partner is having a C-section, there will be a surgical curtain or drape positioned above her belly. Typically dad is positioned by mom's head for emotional support throughout the procedure. To avoid the sight of blood and of your significant other's internal organs, stay below the sight line of the surgical drape by remaining seated on a stool by your partner's head.