OK, dad-to-be, with a baby on the way, there’s something you need to know: What you do and don’t say during labor can save your life. Here’s how to support your partner the best you can come delivery day.
Do’s and don’ts for labor
Don’t mention your partner’s bowel movement. Lie if you have to. She doesn’t want to know.
Don’t say “Wow, this has been going on for 10 hours!”
Don’t imply—or even think— anything that suggests her pain is anything but excruciating.
Do discreetly tell your partner if she looks particularly bad or has crazed bed-head. She’ll want to know; she won’t mind when you discreetly hand her a hairbrush. (Warning: She may throw the brush at you once she’s used it.)
Post labor prep
Seek lactation help: Breastfeeding is a learning process for both mom and baby. Even if it’s going well, make sure your partner is seen multiple times by a lactation consultant, which most hospitals now provide. Her success with breastfeeding has a great deal to do with your support at this time.
Take photos: Two musts: a picture of mom with baby and a “family” pose with the baby that includes mom, dad, and any siblings (ask the nurse to take it).
Spearhead communications: Someone has to alert the family, so build your phone tree or email distribution list well in advance. One new mom, Jewell, really appreciated when her husband “got up at the crack of dawn to go home and send out email updates”—and then came right back.
Manage visitors and the phone: Everyone wants to see the baby and talk to mom, but your partner probably won’t be up to socializing. Take your cues from her, then set time limits and screen her calls if you have to.
Be the dad: Listen to the medical staff. Pay attention to instructions for umbilical cord or circumcision care and proper bathing techniques—take notes if you have to. Change all diapers. Hold the baby. The two of you will be parenting for a long time, so the more comfortable you are with it the better.