This was written back in March when I was writing from a teaching point of view, as if I were preparing fathers-to-be for what to expect from childbirth forward. This was my “lesson” on childbirth, from a man’s point of view…
No matter how you slice the tasks of parenthood, women always have, and always will, have the upper hand when it comes to the physical act of delivering a child. The first task for a father is to accept this as absolute fact. Try to win an argument over who had it harder leading up to this point, and you may as well ask your mother to knit you a nice warm blanket that matches your couch, since that’s where you’ll be sleeping until your child can talk. But enough discussion of the female advantages. Let’s talk about your role as a father-to-be during childbirth.
It all begins when you arrive at the hospital. I’m leaving out the scenarios of being awoken in the middle of the night, or being rudely interrupted during the Super Bowl. This may not happen to everyone. Holly and I chose to be induced on a specific date, so we wouldn’t be caught off guard (which I highly recommend, by the way). When you arrive at the hospital, you’ll likely face a charge nurse who looks like it’s been at least 30 years since she experienced childbirth for herself, if she did at all. Your significant other will be asked several questions, which she will not hear correctly due to intense contractions. The charge nurse simply wants to see how long your partner can go without launching a vicious attack on the entire maternity ward. Your role here is to assist your partner in answering the questions. That’s it. LISTEN!
Before you know it, you’ll find yourself in a room and your partner will be asked to strip down to nothing and sport a rather fashionable hospital gown. WARNING: do not make sexual jokes at this time. There is no rule that states that you are required to be a part of the birth in any way, shape or form. If you want any part of the fun that will ensue, shut your mouth and be good! This is where any number of things can happen, but usually a midwife or other hospital staff will instruct your partner to get settled in the bed and “open wide.” Hands go where you had always assumed only your parts would go in an intimate setting, and you will realize that this is not a joke. As a father, and a male, all you need to do is sit back and watch! And boy, is it fun! Now, I’m not trying to be insensitive to the incredible miracle that childbirth is, and it’s been proven again and again that labor hurts. It’s no fun for your partner. In the end, however, you essentially do nothing, but wind up with a little human in your arms nonetheless. So why is childbirth fun for you? You get to watch like it’s CSI: Maternity!
As a side note…if you feel the least bit queasy or have feelings as if you are going to faint, SIT DOWN! You are of no use to anyone lying unconscious on the floor because you can’t handle stretching tissue and blood.
The sign of a self-sufficient mother-to-be in labor.
There is an underlying point to all of this. You’ve done nothing physical, yet your partner has sacrificed her entire body for the sake of another person, and for what is now your family. This is exactly why you shouldn’t complain about anything whatsoever from here on out. It’s not about you anymore. Before you know it, you’ll be holding your first child.