Man vs Labour Ward

Childbirth – bet you thought this would be all about the things us women have to go through to push that baby out, the emotions, the pain, the injuries incurred! Nope, I’m going to come at it from the angle of the dad! The dad? I hear you wonder, all he had to do was done nine or so months ago surely? In the labour ward, it is all about the woman and baby as it absolutely should be. It is also about two people who are both very excited but also scared and overwhelmed to be in this surreal place.

Antenatal classes can be a brilliant help to prepare both mum and dad but until you are in the moment you have no real grasp of what it will be like. You can guarantee the woman has done some research on how to cope with labour thanks to google, books or her mammy friends. The dad will have undoubtedly been given a few hints from his friends of what horror awaits him along the lines of ‘whatever you do, don’t look down there’.

As a midwife, we meet them all. I’ll run through a few categories of dads so see if your other half is any of these (or many of these):

The Funny Guy

Oh this guy could be a stand up comedian, he has the mammy and the midwives laughing the whole way through. He is a great guy and is probably just so overwrought with nerves that he is being funny without actually meaning to. But we are entertained and laughing is good for the soul, this is great for the early stages of labour. Beware though that there comes a point in every labour where things are just not funny anymore.

The Facebooker

It’s not necessarily Facebook (but I wanted to stick with the letter F), it could be text messages, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc. He is glued to his phone the whole time. He ignores his partner apart from taking a few photos to share and updates his family and friends with her progress. He is possibly the guy videoing the birth of the baby too for all to see. No, this is not One Born Every Minute, put away the phone please. This guy makes his partner very, very angry. Divorce could be mentioned. The midwives are not huge fans of him either.

The Flirter

Yes, the guy who flirts with the midwife, doctors, student midwife, health care assistant, etc. It does not matter what he looks like, it makes everyone uncomfortable. This could also be attributed to nerves but his partner is RIGHT THERE, and possibly in pain. Awkward!

The Fainter

He’s very quiet, and a little bit pale. Shell-shocked is the word. He possibly didn’t go to antenatal classes and never watched One Born Every Minute. The midwife usually recognises him to be a possible fainter and makes sure there is always a chair never too far from his rear end! He tends to add confusion to the moment of birth – who is responsible for the man in a heap on the floor or chair when you have a new baby in your hands and a mum needing attention?

The Farmer

Couldn’t leave this one out for Ireland! This guy makes sure you know that this childbirth stuff does NOT phase him. He has seen it all before on the farm with cows and sheep. Sure it is all natural. Except this is his wife and she does not really enjoy being compared to a cow. Funnily enough, a good few from this category end up in The Fainter category too.

The Freaked Out Guy

This is the guy who has huge difficulty dealing with the whole labour thing.  He is known for pulling the midwife aside to say “just get her an epidural now, she clearly needs one” as his other half copes wonderfully with each contraction and has clearly specified she doesn’t want an epidural. He is the one asking how long is this going to take? Is it going to get much worse? If his partner is on a monitor, he watches it intently and informs her “here comes another contraction” just in case she doesn’t realise herself. He sits, he stands, he paces, he looks at the clock. He is in panic mode pure and simple. He needs a strong cup of tea with lots of sugar. He is the most relieved person in the room when that baby is born.

The Football Guy

This is the guy that asks if you can get sky sports in the labour ward. It might not necessarily be football; it could be rugby, golf or some other sport. In fact he may not care what sport it is as long as it is a sport. If there is no tv, he will try to see it or get updates on his Ipad or phone. He does not want to be in the labour ward. It is just plain inconvenient for him.

The list of categories could go on, all in all the man is not native to the labour ward. Some experts such as Michel Odent (a man himself) go as far as saying that men disrupt the birthing hormones of a woman and shouldn’t be anywhere near the labour ward. I think it is important that men are present, most of them want what is best for their partner and are proud to be present at the birth of their baby. So how about some tips on how the man in your life can be a positive presence through your labour?

Helpful tips for men in labour ward:

  • praise your partner as much as possible
  • encourage her to drink lots of water
  • have a damp facecloth to cool her forehead when needed
  • turn on the fan, turn off the fan as directed
  • praise your partner as much as possible
  • hold her hand if she needs you to
  • leave your phone down and off
  • have spare clothes for yourself in case you get sweaty or splashed with bodily fluids
  • praise your partner as much as possible
  • don’t ever speak of what you see, just sing the praises of your other half for a job well done
  • don’t take any insults personally especially just before the pushing starts (hindsight will make this clearer!)
  • know where things are in the bags and what a baby vest and babygro look like
  • when baby is born, enjoy that first hour with your partner and new baby, you don’t need to tell the world immediately so leave the phone off
  • finally – praise your partner as much as possible 🙂

Finally, a few quotes regarding men in the labour ward:

“Sure it’s no different to lambing… only they don’t get pain relief” Joe, Donegal

“Do what your partner tells you, don’t be offended if they give out or shout” Joe, Dublin

“Make sure you didn’t just wet yourself” – said when waters went at home. Will, Wexford

“I don’t know about you but I was having kittens there” Seamus, Navan

“He couldn’t find the facecloth so midwife gave him a pillow case to wet with cold water to cool me down and he wet the whole thing and literally threw it on my face until I started coughing, spluttering and roaring at him to take it off” Grainne, Tipperary

“Just be there for them, and bring a book” David, Dublin

“I said to partner when baby’s head was out – take a picture, what does it look like? He replied “F*** no, it’s like a bunch of grapes”” Noelle, Dublin

“Don’t let your hubby bring in his ipad, seriously I was fit to throttle him” Pamela, Kildare

“Husband was standing outside theatre having a coffee following my emergency c-section, he said the next minute bits of me passed him in a bucket – put him right off his coffee” Majella, Galway

Following 4 hours of his wife in active labour: “I don’t think I could have lasted much longer… I was wrecked watching you” Ray, Cork

“When baby was born, the doctor said “Oh, he has red hair” and husband said out loud in middle of room “Oh for F*** sake”. When everyone looked at him, he pointed to his own head and said “He’s in for a lifetime of pain”” Laura, Laois

“Stay looking into the missus’ face rather than lower and agree with everything she says until she’s handed the baby” JP, Tipperary

“Had an epidural with the first and none with the second, husband stated first one was like a silent movie, second one was a scene from The Exorcist”. Deirdre, Dublin

“Bring a hip flask ;-)” Rob, Australia (@dadsnotmums on Twitter)

“Don’t talk too much” My Husband 🙂

Man versus labour ward, are men the best birth partners? Which category does your man fit into? Farmer? Fainter? Funny Guy?

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39 thoughts on “Man vs Labour Ward

  1. Ha! Mine set up his tripod in the camera and filmed the whole thing without me knowing. Took me months to be able to watch that particular “home movie” I can tell you. Great post. Love it. #fartglitter

  2. A good insight! I’m forever asking my other half questions about the birth as I was so ‘in the zone’ I don’t actually remember the details. Good point about the fan, he switched it on/off countless times!

    1. Thanks Hannah, I’d say he probably remembers more than he would like to admit, it is traumatic for them to see you in pain. We still have the harder job though!

  3. I love this – laughing aloud at the pillow in the face!! It’s so funny I am normally such an affectionate person but I could not stand being touched while I was in labour. I think my husband did all the ‘good’ things you’ve advised them to do but he did also fall asleep on a chair…I couldn’t really be cross though as I was falling asleep between contractions too, we were both so tired haha. I had to be like ‘Babe, they’re talking about forceps, the baby might be here soon…you should probably wake up!’

    Great advice for any dads or birthing partners who want to get it right. You do just have to take it as it comes – being relaxed and flexible is a plus for me! #FartGlitter
    Ellen recently posted…An undomestic goddess bakes muffinsMy Profile

  4. My husband was the ‘fuc*ing idiot’. He complained about his arm being sore from the vaccination he’d had a few days before whilst I was in labour. #chucklemums

  5. This is fab!! A real insight into the sort of men in the room out there, and I loved the quirky quotes!! You’re right, nothing can ever prepare the man for what they are about to experience…!! My husband definitely came under ‘the freaked out guy.’ He was so nervous and anxious about everything, and said afterwards both times, that he just felt totally and utterly useless. He said he just needed my pain to stop and it all be over! If I’m totally honest, I now wish he hadn’t been in the room… Despite me asking him not to look, he inevitably did, and it really changed the way he felt about me, and our relationship. He really struggled with fact he’d watched 2 babies come out of me, and for a while I thought our relationship would never get back on track… Thankfully everything is fine now, but it made it clear to me how easy it is for relationships to crumble because the man just can’t see the woman in a sexual way anymore. So if I could do it again, I’d just have my mum there instead!!
    Thanks for linking to #bigpinklink!

    1. Thanks for your comment, yes it is truly an eye-opener for the guys, maybe they should be given a shot of pethidine as well?! Glad you guys are all good again, it can definitely affect a relationship but in good ways too!

  6. Being a man and having been there for the 24hr labour and resulting C Section it was certainly an eye opener!! Felt bad for my other half as she had a reaction to the medication so couldn’t hold the little one for a while as she was a bit shaky so I had the joy of cutting the (incredibly tough!!) cord and then holding him until she felt better, hoping he didn’t wee everywhere or scream too much!
    I think I did a OKish job – we were still on speaking terms afterwards at least!! My one everlasting memory was being surprised at seeing testicles as we both had a feeling it was going to be a girl, and then being amazed at how big and purple his hands were ?? #chucklemums
    James Hopes recently posted…My ‘Word’ What A Busy Weekend…My Profile

    1. I know Fran, it’s such a surreal time for them. Being in theatre for a section can be scary too for them (and us!), no matter how serene it may seem! ? Sounds like you have a good one!

  7. This is brilliant. From start to finish, it’s just brilliant. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed because I just don’t know. Even the tips at the end (nice touch) are funny and the bit from the dads is just genius. I love love this and will be featuring it on my series #BlogStars if that’s alright with you.

  8. What a fab post, had me chuckling all the way through knowing what men are like on the maternity ward. #BigPinkLink

  9. Wowsers post has filled with dread for impending #labour #birth #husbandFailures eek! Thank you for helpful tips section! #fridayfrolics

  10. Brilliant. My husband was great both times actually. He counted me through my contractions which really helped. Except the time he got distracted my the monitor and I was shouting through gritted teeth “Count”. They may have misheard me though! Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

  11. When they’re all written down like that, most of them sound a bit rubbish really, don’t they?? Michel Odent may have a point! The funny guy is the only one I wouldn’t want throwing from the room I think!

    Thanks so much for joining us on #FridayFrolics. Hope to see you next time

  12. Hilarious, my husband was chilled and strong thankfully. Love your tips. Thanks for linking up. Please link back or add my badge.

  13. Super interesting take on this subject! I’m all for men being more involved in every aspect of childrearing

  14. This is so funny!
    I am expecting first baby in February and getting v excited. We did a hypnobirthing class together and one of focuses was on giving the dad/birth partner lots of jobs so they don’t feel useless and are in fact useful! There was also no pressure on him to attend the birth if he doesn’t feel comfortable which I thought was great as he is nervous and I know I would be stressed out worrying about him if he fainted or wasn’t at ease. Let’s just hope it helps us on the day ?

    1. I had a February baby too, such a lovely time to have them. Yes sometimes labour can be (almost!) tougher on the birth partner than on the woman. Lots of little jobs to keep him focused helps. Best of luck x

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