A Dad’s Guide to Giving Birth

Go With the Flow Since it’s impossible to predict how labor and delivery will unfold, you’ll need to be fl exible and ready to shift gears at any moment. “Going in, some dads want to be told exactly what to do and when and how to do it, and you just can’t give that information,” Coleman says. “The childbirth process is different for every single person.” Lucia adds: “Have a game plan, but be prepared to adapt it, depending on how things go.” When you arrive at the hospital, introduce yourself to the staff and get to know their names. “Go in expecting that you’ll have to speak at some point, and do it in a polite, constructive, non-confrontational way,” Lucia advises. “The hospital staff is in a position to help out, and you’re not going to make friends if you act demanding or bossy.” When you do need to make a request or voice a concern, do it out of earshot of your partner. “She has enough other things to focus on, so have the conversation in the hallway or somewhere that she doesn’t have to be part of it,” Lucia says. “Just knowing that you’re handling things and she doesn’t have to worry can be extremely helpful.” Taking charge is one thing—being overbearing is another. So walk a fine line between being supportive and pushy when it comes to your partner as well. Take it from Jason Keim. In the weeks leading up to his wife’s due date, she made it clear she wanted “a 100-percent natural birth.” But a few hours into labor, she was in agony. Rather than trying to talk her into getting an epidural, Jason simply reminded her that there was no shame in it and that she might have several more hours of labor left. “I left the decision completely up to her, but let her know that I supported her either way.”