Posted: Aug 06, 2013 7:00 AM
Let's face it, everyone expects dads to be expert coaches during labor and childbirth — those are high expectations especially the first time around. It's important for dads to be supported in labor so they can provide the best labor support for you.

You don't know everything and that's OK

Expectant fathers — you've taken childbirth classes. You've read all the birth books. You've watched birth videos and (hopefully) didn't pass out. But you're not an expert, and no one expects you to be one — unless you do.

Sure, your partner is the one with the daunting (and amazing) task of having contractions and pushing your baby out — or even having major surgery and having to take care of a newborn. But you need and deserve support during labor and birth, too. While no one can ever fully prepare for the unpredictable event that's labor, follow these tips from the get go so you'll be able to support your partner.

You can't fix labor pain, but you can get help

Labor and birth are normal, natural processes filled with all sorts of sounds (and bodily fluids), but it can be super hard to watch your woman go through it.

Dads, we know most of you like to fix things, but although you may hate seeing your partner in pain during labor and birth, you can't, I repeat you can't fix it. This is one of the most challenging parts of labor for dads — labor and birth are normal, natural processes filled with all sorts of sounds (and bodily fluids), but it can be super hard to watch your woman go through it.

Labor can be long, tiring and even overwhelming at times. Whether you need a rest, some fresh air or have a question or concern about how your partner and baby are coping with labor, be sure to ask your doctor, midwife or nurse.

Pack a dad's labor bag

toothbrush and toothpasteMom isn't the only one who will benefit from a well-stocked labor bag. Be sure to pack a change of clothes you can layer (so when Mom is too cold or too hot, you won't be), a bathing suit (if Mom needs support in the shower or birth tub), a snack (if you're famished but she needs your support and the hospital cafeteria is about to close), toothpaste and toothbrush (so your breath doesn't stink from said snack), glasses or contact lens supplies (so your eyes don't kill you if you take a nap) and phone charger (so no one will miss the baby news).

Communication is key

Good, open communication with your doctor and midwife is key to helping both you and your partner feel comfortable and confident during labor and birth. While everyone's labor experience is unique, these general questions may help dads feel more comfortable and confident during the process:

  1. Is everything OK with Mom and Baby?
  2. Is there another position or comfort measure you could suggest to make her more comfortable?
  3. What are the benefits/risks/alternatives to X or Y intervention?
  4. What are her options for natural comfort measures or pain medications?

Bottom Line^ Dads must get their needs met, questions answered and concerns addressed to feel more comfortable and confident so they can best support moms during labor and birth. Good luck!

Read more about labor and birth preparation

Dads and doulas: A perfect match?
Labor bag bargains
Secrets of the labor and delivery room