Second-Time Dad, First-Time Labor Partner
My husband and I have been together for 10 years, married for nearly eight, and we have a 2-year-old daughter together. However, this April, when we welcome our son into the world, it will be his first time witnessing the glorious and chaotic experience that is labor.
He wasn’t there when I felt my first contraction with our daughter.
He didn’t nervously drive me to the hospital, going agonizingly slowly over every bump.
He didn’t bring me ice chips or wipe my forehead with a damp towel.
Those roles were all filled by my mother.
He did, however, verbally encourage me through the cell phone my sister held up to my ear, 8,000 miles away while stationed on a small air base in Iraq.
Seven weeks later, he was finally introduced to his daughter, and he jumped into fatherhood with both feet. Now that we are just a few weeks away from becoming second-time parents, he’s getting a bit anxious to be a first-time labor partner, while I have barely given labor a thought this time around.
I do, however, definitely have some guidelines I would like him to keep in mind now that I have done a trial run without him!
Know your place
There is a lot of activity that takes place near the lower half of my body in the hours leading up to bringing another human being in to the world. And while I love you to pieces, you are not qualified to be of assistance to anyone who happens to be down there. Don’t worry, when the time comes, they will bring the baby to you, but until then, please refrain from moving past my belly button.
The less you say during a contraction, the better
While it seems like encouragement and motivating phrases would be wildly helpful during such an intense and difficult time, in reality, it breaks my concentration, and that is something you don’t want to do. I know this might just be a reminder, since I screamed at you during our video chat in the hospital last time.
No pictures or videos taken during the actual push phase—seriously
I’m not issuing a ban on cameras entirely; take all the snapshots you want of those first few hours, right up until the doctor says, “OK, it’s time!” And when the baby arrives, if you want to capture those first few moments of him on my chest, I encourage it! I’m only issuing a photo blackout during those moments when, if you change the background of the image, I could be straining for an entirely different reason. There is no one in the world, including myself, who wants to see those. And, really, I’m sure you’ll be focused on other things during that time, so this is truly just precautionary.
Overall, you’re going to be fine. We will make it to the hospital, I will make it through the pain, you won’t faint (I hope!), and the baby will be perfect. Just the fact that you’re here this time is going to make it ten times better.
What advice do you have for your labor partner?