By Lucy Bloom
With current hospital regulations limiting women in labour to only ONE support person, the pressure is on fathers more than ever before, to be a stellar childbirth support person. But there is more to supporting a woman through the birth of a baby than showing up and taking photos at the end. Here are the top five mistakes men make in the delivery room.
1 // Too much talky-talk
When a woman is in labour she uses the ancient part of the brain which drives primal instincts like childbirth. Language is triggered in the neo-cortex and distracts her from the primal task of giving birth and will slow her down. Also, talking too much takes attention away from the contraction she is going through. A little less conversation, a little more massage.
2 // Chumming up to the midwife or obstetrician
Always be polite to your caregivers, but chumming up to them creates conversation (see mistake number one) and takes focus away from the birthing mother and the contractions she is going through. Dads should be focussed on the birthing mother and her needs, not creating Whatsapp groups to tee up a kayak with the obstetrician next week.
3 // Bad breath or BO
Crap on a cracker, this is such a common mistake that men make. Women in labour have a super-sensitive sense of smell and manky coffee breath or BO will earn the expectant father a poke in the eye. Childbirth can take hours, but it can also take days and a good support partner is working hard to support the woman through labour. So pack a few spare T-shirts, breath mints and industrial-strength deodorant. NB: that the birthing mother can produce whatever heinous stench she likes. She is producing a human. Dad, on the other hand, needs to smell sweet for days.
4 // Allowing phones to distract them
Phones should be on aeroplane mode and forgotten about while a woman is doing the hard work of labour and a man is in
support mode. Never send progress updates to family or friends during labour and men should NEVER take a scroll through Instagram to pass the time. You can actually slow labour down by pissing off a woman in labour. If she is irritated, it produces adrenaline which blocks the hormones that drive labour and nuke pain. So keep her happy and supported or you will make the labour slower and harder for her.
5 // Complaining about their own aches and pains or boredom
Yeah, just don’t. A woman will never forget the time her husband complained that he had a numb bum or who said out loud that the gaps between contractions were boring. See mistake number four for why adrenaline is the enemy and keeping a woman safe, happy and focussed in labour is your number one job as her support person.
For the full how-to guide on how to support a woman in labour, read Cheers to Childbirth: a dad’s guide to childbirth support by Lucy Bloom. It also includes epic birth stories from some of Australia’s favourite dads including Bondi lifeguard Andy Reid, boxer Danny Green, TV guy Osher Günsberg, Olympian Steven Bradbury, broadcaster Jeremy Fernandez and actors Shane Jacobson, Charlie Clausen and Steve Bastoni.