Dad-to-Be Delivery Room Survival Guide

Be prepared when your partner goes into labor.
pregnant couple

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Labor and childbirth, particularly the first time around, no matter how well-anticipated, are always something of a surprise. Fact is, friend, your life is about to change. The delivery room drama is both very exciting and emotional--and it can be hard to know the right thing to do.

To help you keep your cool, dad-to-be, we've put together this no-frills delivery room survival guide. Seriously? Educate yourself. It's going to be an amazing experience.

Be camera ready. "Communication is key when it comes to photography and video in the delivery room," says Amy McCready, Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time. She recommends having video discussions with your partner before, during, and after the birth. "Discuss your plans for photography and video prior to the delivery so you are in agreement on what moments or shots are fair game and strictly off-limits. Even with the best laid plan, mom can change her mind mid-contraction, so do a pulse- and temperature-check to make sure the photo/video rules of engagement still apply." And don't forget: After delivery, mom gets to review pictures and video before you share them!

No whining. "Do not complain or act bored (no yawning)," Says Carole Arsenault, RN, IBCLC, and author of The Baby Nurse Bible. "I've heard many dads complain about a sore back because they've been standing next to their wives for so long." Don't complain about headache or any other minor pains. "The labor experience is completely focused around the mother," says Arsenault. "A laboring woman may want to squeeze her partner's hand during a contraction." She encourages dads to tough it out: a contraction typically lasts about 60 seconds.

Make mom-to-be comfortable. Bring something extra special that you know will make her happy. A box of Teuscher chocolate. A framed picture of her as a baby with her mom. A brand-new silk sleep mask. A special surprise mix that you can play for her in the delivery room. You know what makes mom-to-be tick--what makes her happy--so make the effort to bring some of that with you to this extremely important moment in her life.

Get the nurse on your side. Sharon Perkins, former delivery room nurse and co-author of Dad's Guide to Pregnancy, says that "a labor and delivery room nurse who really likes you will spend any extra time she has talking to you, coaching you and cheering you on." How to get the nurse on your side? Just be nice, says Perkins. "Ask questions and listen to her answers. Don't try and break the rules about food, visitors or anything else--the nurse didn't make them, but she has to enforce them. Offering cookies or candy is nice, but not essential. Unlike at a hotel or restaurant, you can't bribe a nurse into taking good care of you and you'll insult them if you try, so just be yourself . . . or a nicer version of yourself, whichever is better!"

Avoid hyping up the contractions. Be wary of electronic monitoring, guys. "Dads should not get overly enthusiastic about the contraction monitor," Arsenault says. "Mom is the best judge not the monitor and she will know when one is starting and when the contraction is ending. Regarding the intensity? Never question her pain, she is the best judge."

Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.

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