Some of the most endearing moments I have witnessed as an obstetrician involved observing men in the labor room. There was the hip Jewish dad from Brooklyn who brought his Anita Baker tape and played it while his wife was in labor. Because she was one of my favorite artists, I was constantly in their room under the guise of watching the fetal monitor, just so that I could listen to the music. Another memorable moment was the dad who cried tears of joy when his wife was returned back to her room after having a c. section. The love and admiration that beamed in his eyes almost tempted me to ask him if he had a friend (this was of course, when I was single). The point is, expectant dads can play a significant role in helping their wives or girlfriends have a healthy baby. Here’s how:
1. Remind the baby’s mother to make certain she feels the baby move at least 4 or more times in one hour.
2. Make sure she knows what her blood pressure is at each prenatal visit
3. Make sure she keeps all of her prenatal appointments
4. Make certain her hospital bag is packed and she has all her important papers in one specific location
5. Ask permission to be in the labor room with her so that you can witness the birth of your child. It is a scene you will never forget and will bring you closer together as a couple.
6. Please don’t cheat on her while she’s pregnant. You could give her an unwanted sexually transmitted infection
7. Encourage her to push when it’s time
8. Rub her back in between contractions
9. Take notes when she’s in labor. If there’s a change of shift, make sure that the new shift knows what went on during the previous shift; particularly if she’s having complications such as high blood pressure or fetal distress on the monitor. One of the greatest risk of OB medical malpractice is miscommunication or a lack of communication during shifts changes. The proverbial left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing.
10. If the nurses become concerned about the baby’s fetal tracing, ask that the doctor or midwife come to the hospital immediately.
The active participation of an expectant father is priceless. In the words of an old R&B classic by the Winstons, “. . . color him father; color him love.” Happy Father’s Day.