Dads In The Delivery Room – What NOT To Do

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dads in the delivery room

Dads in the delivery room can be such a wonderful experience for everyone– if it’s done right. If your wife is in labor and you know that you are going to be the one by her side, this post is for you. You’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering what your role is, what is expected of you, and most of all, what you SHOULDN’T do.

You guys, this is such an important topic that isn’t talked about nearly enough. I can’t tell you how many times that I’m in a delivery that is being completely tainted by the bad vibe in the room created by my mommy’s distracted or disrespectful partner. It drives me NUTS when I have a Dad in the delivery room that doesn’t do anything but sit in his chair and act like he’d rather be somewhere else.

I decided that maybe it’s just not talked about enough and therefore some men are just clueless. I’m going to try to fix that. This post is the counterpart to The Dad’s Guide To Labor and Delivery that I wrote that goes over exactly what Dad SHOULD be doing in labor. That post is full of tips for dads to let them know what they can be doing during labor.

The post that you’re currently reading, on the other hand, is all about what he should NEVER do.

So, call over your hubby and read this post together so that you can be on the same page about what you can expect of each other during labor.

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Let’s Get Started, Dads

When a woman goes into labor, it should not be expected that she goes it alone. Childbirth is not a spectator sport. Dads in the delivery room do not get to sit on the sidelines and watch as she does all the work for your reward in the end.

Instead, if you are a dad in the delivery room, you should be actively finding ways to treat your woman like the life-giving Queen she is. She [more than] deserves it after her body grew twice it’s size and her heartburn nearly drove her to madness.
dads in the delivery room

Please note: The views on this website are personal opinions only and do not represent the opinions or policies of any provider or institution that I am affiliated with. I am not giving medical advice. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose, or treat any form of any disease. This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. I am only telling you what my experiences are. Please refer to my Disclaimer Page for more information

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What Not To Do

So, as you might already know, I am a labor and delivery nurse. I labor with couples every day at work. I’m lucky enough to get see the wonderful men that support and encourage their wives, girlfriends, partners, and baby mamas. I also get to witness dads in the delivery room being less than helpful when the mother of their child is doing the most important work she’s ever done.

Since you are reading this post, I know that you want to be the best supporter that you an possibly be. That’s what I want for you too. So, these are the things you should be avoiding when your girl is in labor.

Freak Out

If your wife’s water breaks or she starts having contractions at home, stay calm and collected. Freaking out isn’t helpful. Help her get ready to go, count & time her contractions, and assist her in getting rest when she can. Be her calming center and don’t stress her out.


A labor nurse’s biggest pet peeve in the labor and delivery room is seeing a dad sleeping on the pull-out daddy bed, snoring away while his wife is in agony. It kills me. Do you think you’ve done enough by just showing up? Not even close. Wake up, stand by the bed, hold her hand, hold her leg, and support your wife.

I understand that labor can be long. Sometimes more than 24 hours. I also understand that you’re wondering when you’ll be able to sleep. The answer is simple. If your wife is sleeping (because she has en epidural or is in very early labor) then you can sleep. You guys are in this together.

Once the baby comes, you both can discuss what the sleep situation will be like. Many couples take turns with the baby but that’s going to depend on your personal situation.


There is nothing – let me repeat – NOTHING-that you could possibly be experiencing right now that is worse than what your wife is going through. If you try to complain that you’re hungry, remember that your wife hasn’t been able to eat either and won’t be able to eat until after the baby comes. If you’re tired, remember that she hasn’t slept well for weeks or even months. Even if your arms and back are sore from standing with her all day and holding her leg up all night, remember that she is HAVING YOUR CHILD.  She’s here too. She’s going through this too. And quite frankly, she’s going through a lot more than you are.

Complaining isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Eat Smelly Food

This is so specific, I know, but it’s HUGE. Your poor wife feels like she’s starving and would kill for some good food right now. If you bring in fast food or other food with strong odor, she’s going to be tortured by it because she can’t have any. Eat your snacks to keep your energy up, but if you can avoid it, don’t eat a full meal in the room.

Ask For Gloves

This baffles me every time. How did you get this woman pregnant? Please don’t ask for gloves, a mask, shoe covers, or a gown to wear (yes, I’m so serious). First of all, you’re likely not to touch anything that you haven’t touched before. Second, if you do get some amniotic fluid on your hands…wash them.

Asking to wear things like gloves or a gown over your clothes makes your partner feel dirty or gross. Show her that you aren’t disgusted by her. My favorite experience with Dads in labor is always with the Dad that gets in there to help me turn his wife, change her pad, wipe the throw-up off her chin, and doesn’t think twice about it. These are real men.

Compare Her To Other People

I will never forget the time that I was laboring with a woman whose partner was a paramedic. He claimed to had done “twelve” {eye roll} deliveries on the field and is totally experienced with childbirth {double eye roll}. Well, all that is great but when he started telling her that she was taking so much longer than any other woman he’d seen, I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Don’t ever make your wife feel like her pain threshold is too low, her labor is too long, or any other possible comparison to other women you can think of.

Tell Her To “Stop”

Yikes! If you want to get your head bit off, tell your wife to “stop” during labor. Stop yelling, stop being so loud, stop breathing like that, stop crying… none of it is a good idea. Every woman labors differently. Some women are loud, some women are silent. If you are annoyed with the way she has chosen to express her discomfort or pain, it’s better for you to never mention it for the rest of your life.

You will never go through what she’s going through. You will never understand the pain that she’s feeling. A lot of the time your wife cannot control her reaction to labor. But you can control the way you respond to her.

Be Distracted

If you’re staring at the TV every time your nurse comes in and you don’t flinch when something new is happening with your wife, you’re failing. This is not a vacation. It’s Super bowl Sunday? Still not an excuse. When your wife’s healthcare team is talking to her, they are also talking to you. Pay attention to what is going on with the person having your baby. You need to know what’s going on. If you are aware of the changes that are happening you will also be more aware how to help her when she needs you.

Be Bored

I almost wrote “act bored” for this heading but then I thought, “no, being bored is just as bad as acting bored”. This is not boring. Twenty-four hours of labor isn’t boring for your partner and it shouldn’t be for you either. If you find yourself bored during your wife’s labor and delivery, you’re doing something wrong.

Even if you feel like your wife isn’t in pain anymore because she has an epidural…her body is still doing a lot of work and going through massive changes. Your wife’s pain level is not equal to the level of work she’s doing. Her mind and body is going through enough to keep you interested and attentive to her. Mention that you’re bored and your nurse and your wife will simultaneously roll their eyes – guaranteed.

Ask If We’re Almost Done

I don’t care if your wife has been pushing for 4 hours or has been 2cm for 8 hours. It’s still not appropriate to ask “Are we almost done?”, “Is the baby almost here yet?”, “She’s still not complete?” or “Wow, should it really be taking this long?”.

This is so offensive to a laboring mother. She is doing everything that she can do to get this baby out and sometimes it takes a while. Is that really so surprising? She is going to exit a baby from her body!

If you absolutely MUST mention the time, mention the good things. “I know this is taking a long time and this must be so hard for you babe, but you’re doing amazing” is a much better option.

Just keep in mind that it feels ten times longer to your wife than it does for you. She’s the one doing all of the work. Make her feel adequate and capable instead of like she’s not doing something fast or well enough.

Bonus Tips Because I love Y’all

Alright, here are some extra stuff that you’ll find yourself almost doing. But then you’ll remember that the mother of your child needs you to be there for her in a more positive way.

  • Tell her the contractions don’t seem so bad
  • Tell her what her pain level is
  • Watch the monitor and tell her “here comes another one!” or “oooh, that was a big one” or even worse “that one wasn’t so bad”
  • Talk about “that one time” that you were in a lot of pain and try to compare it to labor
  • Tell her that labor has slowed down because of an epidural
  • Tell her that since she has an epidural she’s not doing anything

You know what you could get some bonus points for? Pay attention when she drags you to a prenatal class! Just kidding, she probably didn’t have to drag you. I know that some men are just as interested and invested in the labor process as their woman counterpart. But just showing up isn’t good enough. Pay attention and show her that you care.

If you haven’t been able to get to a prenatal class yet during her pregnancy, suggest one of these two online prenatal classes to your wife. She’ll be so impressed!

I know you’ll do great

Just be the best you that you can be. Be the man that your wife fell in love with– the man she wants to be the father of her baby. Keep in mind the sacrifices that she’s had to make for you and this baby. She deserves your full attention, love and respect. Congratulations, Dad! If you read this post, you’re already winning.

pregnancy journal

Let me know in the comments what you ladies wish your baby’s dads in the delivery room knew before labor?

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