Everything a First-Time Dad Needs to Know About the Delivery Room

Anna Lane | Feb 24, 2017 Pregnancy

dad and newborn babyiStock.com/SimonDannhauer

Back in the Mad Men era, fathers weren't allowed in the delivery room while their wives were giving birth. Call it sexism or just plain ridiculous, but there's a reason dads were left to pace the waiting room and hand out cigars: The things that happen in labor and delivery can never be unseen.

The times have changed, but that still doesn't mean dads should go waltzing into the delivery room unprepared. Birth is a messy -- and magical -- experience, which is why we've put together a handy guide to help dads navigate the ins, outs, and placentas of labor and delivery.

Ready, fellas? Buckle up ... it's going to be a bumpy (but beautiful) ride.

  • Watch out when the water breaks

    1

    Chances are good that every dad-to-be will have an encounter with amniotic fluid. A lucky few will have partners who simply have a slow, steady drip-drip-drip, but it's also highly likely that you'll find yourself waking up in a puddle. There's no need to freak out -- it's just the clean liquid that's been cushioning your baby for approximately 10 billion years months. Of course, there's always a possibility that the liquid isn't clear. In that case, you just got covered in poop water and should probably go take a shower. Better pack an extra set of dad clothes in that hospital bag!

  • The more the merrier! (?)

    2

    How do we put this delicately. A lot of different people are going to see your wife's hoo-ha. A LOT.

    In addition to your OB, there are the triage nurse and/or midwife, the labor and delivery nurses, and the postpartum recovery team. When giving birth in a teaching hospital, unless you specifically request no residents, there may be a team of OBs-in-training who tromp through while your baby mama is in the middle of pushing out your offspring. It's slightly weird to know that perfect strangers have gotten closer to your wife’s vagina than you have for approximately 40 weeks, but this is all part of the miracle of birth in a hospital setting.

  • Labor pain is inevitable

    3

    I don't care how much hypnosis she does or how many drugs she takes, at some point during the whole birthing process, your love will be in excruciating pain that manifests itself in animal-like groans and a torrent of swear words. If you value your life, you will not, under any circumstances, claim to know how she feels because you once got hit in the nuts with a softball. Just don't.

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  • There may be poop

    4

    No woman wants to poop during labor, but it happens quite often. If you're one of those coy couples who've never used the toilet in front of one another, I suggest you knock that stuff out right now and get real comfortable with family potty time. Your new life as parents will involve lots and lots of poop.

  • You're gonna need to speak up

    5

    When your partner is busy with a little something called labor, it's your job to be her advocate. Don't just sit silently by while doctors and/or nurses railroad your exhausted partner into making decisions she's not comfortable with. Sure, doctors and all of their fancy medical degrees can be scary, but don't let that stop you from speaking up when something doesn't seem right, because the only thing scarier than an MD with a degree from Yale is your baby mama when she finds out you threw her under the bus.

  • Your lady love has hidden animal instincts

    6

    If you're looking for evidence that we're descended from primitive creatures, look no further than the labor and delivery room. Your wife will moan, groan, growl, snarl, and scratch you without remorse. In fact, you may feel somewhat concerned that she's going to hop off the table and snap your slender neck with her bare hands. Fear not, loving spouse! While your partner may threaten to murder you while she's in labor, we've never heard of a woman who's gone through with it ... yet.

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  • Uncontrollable vomit is a common occurrence

    7

    When a woman is in labor, her entire body wants to expel itself of every possible thing, including the contents of her stomach. Sometimes it's just dry heaves, but more often than not it's full-on vomit, and a laboring lady can't be trusted to hit the barf bag while in the throes of a contraction. Make sure the hospital provides your beloved with one of those plastic puke containers, and keep it close by for any sudden onset of vomiting -- hers OR yours.

  • There will be lots (and lots) of blood

    8

    If blood makes you squeamish, I suggest you focus on your partner's face and not look below her waist. This is especially true if your lady is having a C-section. There's going to be enough gushing blood to put the elevator scene in The Shining to shame -- and it's going to stay that way for a few weeks. 

    Just remember ... blood is life-giving! Blood is beautiful!

  • Vaginas are way more elastic than you thought!

    9

    Here's something very few people will bother to tell you: Vaginas are incredibly elastic. Your wife's lady parts may stretch further than your wingspan while she's trying to get that little sucker's head to come out. But, babies have big heads, so even with all that stretching there might be some slight (or not-so-slight) tearing. It's okay, it happens. The doc will stitch it up, and all will be well ... eventually!

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  • The pain doesn't end once the baby's out

    10

    Don't expect your wife to jump off the delivery room table, throw on a sexy thong, and "shake it off." For the first 12 hours or so after labor, she'll be sitting on ice packs in an attempt to keep the labial swelling to a minimum. Either that, or she'll be recovering from major surgery. At the same time -- and for the next two weeks or so -- your baby mama will be rocking super sexy disposable underwear lined with adult diapers. She'll probably also be leaking breast milk, her hormones will be raging, and she will be sore and exhausted. If you have any sense at all, you'll refrain from suggesting or even talking about sex, unless you fancy becoming the new John Bobbitt.

  • Let's Talk About Sex, (After) Baby

    11

    We all know that's what you're wondering about. The cold, hard truth of the matter is that it's going to be a while before you and your partner can get back in the sack. At the very least, it will be six weeks until your wife's postpartum checkup, when the doctor gives her the go-ahead to get down and dirty. But, it could be more like six months until your wife wants to show you the love, and when it does happen, it's going to take a little while to get back into your groove, especially if she's breastfeeding and had a vaginal delivery. Just remember: lots of love, support, and back rubs will go a long way. (Also, uninterrupted sleep. Pro tip.)

  • It's all worth it

    12

    The fear, the pain, the nausea -- it's all worth it when you meet your child for the first time. The memories of the scary-ish things you saw in the delivery room will fade eventually (unless you happen to be one of those people who likes to videotape everything. Look, yes, the miracle of life is amazing and you love your baby more than you ever thought possible, but just remember: No one wants to see footage of your wife's vagina after Thanksgiving dinner.) ... and you'll be left with the best part: your new family. Congratulations, dad!

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