Being with your significant other when she delivers your baby is a slippery slope. It’s an incredible experience but, at the same time, being in the delivery room during the birth offers many opportunities for a dad-to-be to make a fool of himself.
Don’t be that dad.
Before the big day, you need to understand some unwritten rules, a protocol of sorts, for delivery room dads. While a few may be common sense, most I had to learn the hard way. As a three-time father, I’m here to help. Follow these Do’s and Don’ts for Delivery Room Dads and you will be well on your way to Super Dad status.
Do bring an extra layer of clothes. If your wife wants the delivery room thermostat set at 58 degrees, guess what? The room will be 58 degrees. So bundle up.
Don’t ask for anything for yourself. Nurses are there to take care of your wife, not get you a blanket.
Do have your own bag packed ahead of time (your wife likely packed hers a month ago).
Don’t wait until your wife is laboring at home to ask her advice on what you should pack for the hospital.
Do have a car seat ready and properly installed for your baby before you even get to the hospital.
Don’t walk around the halls of the hospital with it still in the box.
Do practice changing a diaper ahead of time (on a doll … with the help of YouTube or a New Dad Boot Camp class, if necessary).
Don’t think you’re less of a man for doing so.
Do bring snacks.
Don’t think the hospital’s “nourishment room” is going to be stocked with all sorts of deliciousness. We’re talking peanut butter or crackers. Both if you’re lucky.
Do remain calm.
Don’t say things like, “That’s so gross!” Think it all you want, just DON’T SAY IT ALOUD!
Do bring a camera and politely ask a nurse to take some pictures if that’s what your wife wants.
Don’t take a selfie while your wife is laboring in the background and post it to social media. That’s grounds for removal from the room or the family depending on how lenient your wife is.
Do hold your wife’s hand … BUT ONLY IF SHE ASKS YOU TO!
Don’t rub your wife’s legs and feet if she’s had an epidural … remember she’s numb down there, dummy.
Do be empathetic. Gents, I’m pretty sure it’s a pain we can’t comprehend.
Don’t compare your wife’s labor pain to one you’ve previously experienced like that time you hit your finger with a hammer. And don’t make a sex joke of any kind – remember that’s how you got her into this situation in the first place.
Do stand off to the side of the room and slowly slide down a wall if you’re feeling faint.
Don’t ignore it and pass out in the middle of the delivery room floor. (Delivery room dads — think: Do you really want medical treatment from an OB/GYN?)
Do be in the room the entire time.
Don’t wander. Side note: I almost missed the delivery of our third baby while I was in the waiting room telling my mom to go home because I didn’t think my wife was going to have a baby that night. I am not an expert in labor time management and neither are you.
During and After Delivery
Do participate in the delivery.
Don’t mistake the umbilical cord for “other” anatomy and shout, “IT’S A BOY!”
Do cut the cord if you’re asked.
Don’t be gentle with the scissors. You’ve gotta squeeze those things hard – that cord is like a garden hose.
Do offer to wash the baby when the time comes.
Don’t be afraid of the meconium – it won’t last forever. If you don’t know what meconium is, Google it. But not at mealtime.
Oh, and I almost forgot one final thing … Do cry your eyes out. The day your child is born is the most amazing day of your life.
A version of Delivery Room Dads first appeared in Indy’s Child. Photo: © Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock.
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