7 Things You Shouldn’t Do While She is in Labour

This post is also featured on Mamamia.

Inspired by the incomparable Robbie Williams – and his hilarious labour suite antics during the birth of his child – here is a list of seven things you probably shouldn’t do while a woman is in labour.

1. Don’t compare your discomfort with hers

Don’t complain about being tired. Or hungry. Or bored. If you think that your day sucks I can guarantee you it’s got nothing on hers. Don’t whine that you’re missing the grand final, or that you have a headache or that your tennis elbow is flaring up because you don’t have any Nurofen. Don’t tell her that this is harder for you than it is for her. In fact, don’t complain about anything short of a severed limb or a failed personal attempt to save the head-of-state from assassination. If you are tempted to complain that your hand hurts from massaging her back, try to imagine what it would feel like to be kicked in the gonads every three minutes for 24 hours, and that while all of this is happening you will also be expected to squeeze a mini-watermelon out of your butt. That hand of yours? Doesn’t seem so bad right now, does it?

2. Don’t appear disinterested

Don’t tell her you are bored. Don’t tell her to hurry up. Don’t tell her that she needs to wrap this up before 5pm so you can go home and catch the second half of the footy. Don’t fall asleep. If you fall asleep, make it a quick REM cycle and try not to snore. If you have to play Candy Crush on your phone, the least you can do is switch off your game notifications, because if you don’t you’ll never see rage like that again in your life. Feel free to slink into the corner and watch TV, but don’t enthuse about that elegant Michael Clarke cover-drive and expect her to show her appreciation. She won’t care. She wouldn’t care if Don Bradman himself rose from the dead, strode into the maternity suite and smacked a few balls around the room before delivering the baby himself.

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3. Don’t publicise her private struggle

Do not tweet your way through her labour. Do not post pictures of the baby crowning, using the hashtag #downatthebusinessend. She doesn’t need you cracking jokes about her involuntary bowel movement on Facebook or posting images of the gleaming afterbirth on Instagram. She doesn’t need to star in her own series of YouTube videos, with separate tutorials dedicated to episiotomies, internal examinations and third-degree tears. She just needs to get this baby out without the rest of the world hearing about her nether-regions, and no amount of social media “likes” will help get her over the line.

4. Don’t mess with her pain relief

Don’t belittle her pain. Don’t steal the gas for a quick huff on the happy stuff yourself. Don’t tell her she doesn’t need an epidural if she is begging for one. Don’t conspire with the nurses to withhold pain relief. Don’t suggest she try the TENS machine again. Stick your bloody TENS machine up your ass. And don’t chime in with helpful reminders like “That wasn’t in our birth plan”. There is no “our” when it comes to birth plans. When you are pushing a small human the size of a full-grown possum out of your butt, then you can have a say about pain relief.

5. Don’t be an insensitive dick

Don’t make jokes about her physical appearance, or the waterfall of amniotic fluid cascading down her legs or the fact that she bellows like a wounded buffalo through every one of those late-stage contractions. Don’t make wisecracks about knitting needles if the midwives need to break her waters with the hook. Don’t disappear to the cafeteria for 45 minutes and come back with a mountain of food she can’t eat. Don’t duck out for a quick cigarette when the baby’s head starts to descend. Don’t wink at the obstetrician and ask him to throw a few extra stitches in to “tighten things up”, because the joke is on you: it makes people think you have a small dick.

6. Don’t take anything she says or does personally

She might let fly with a string of ferocious expletives that would make a wharfie look as demure as a minister’s wife. She might claw at your hands and your arms and your face because she is desperately trying to make her pain go away. Or because she hates you with the force of a thousand suns, because you are the person to blame for ALL of this. She might curse at you or scream at you or insist you are Satan himself. This is all perfectly normal. At times, there is little to distinguish an episode of labour from an exorcism, apart from the distinct lack of crucifixes and the fact that there are midwives in attendance instead of priests. Whatever she says, whatever she does. Don’t take it personally.

7. Just. Don’t.

There will often come a time in labour when shit starts to get real. Her pain will become unbearable and she will exist in her own private universe of incomparable agony. Nothing exists but pain. Relentless, never-ending pain. Do something. Do nothing. Do whatever. None of it matters. Everything you do will be WRONG. Massage her. Don’t touch me!  Offer positive encouragement. Don’t talk to me! Give her space. Don’t ignore me!  Mop her brow with a wet facecloth. Don’t smother me! Look into her eyes and breathe through contractions together. Don’t look at me! Don’t make a sound! Don’t. Even. Breathe!  There is nothing much you can do at this stage but to keep your head down, try to stay out of trouble and console yourself with the thought that after all your hard work is done you finally get to the easy part: taking a newborn home. Good luck!

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

68 thoughts on “7 Things You Shouldn’t Do While She is in Labour

  1. Dadabs snuck out for a cheeky sandwich somewhere around the 16 hour mark when P1 was making her entry into the world. She took her time about it – Diva. I was OK about it, there was no point in him starving to death. Meanwhile the husband of a close friend brought along a book about Adam Gilchrist to relieve the boredom. That was poor form.

  2. This should be given out at all first pre-natal appointments. I remember my bestie in labour with baby # 1, I was there holding the heatpack on her back, following her around as she paced and tried to cope with the pain while her hubby snoozed in a chair as he was “so tired”- if I’d had a cup of concrete I’d have force-fed it to him!

    • LOL!! I brainstormed this one with my mother’s group and realised that falling asleep was quite common! Mine were both relatively short inductions during the day so my other half managed to stay awake. He pretty much sat in the corner because I would bark at him every time he came near me. I was one of those lone-wolf labourers who preferred to go solo.

  3. I’d also like to add to all the future grandmas out there – DO NOT get all excited and touch your daughters belly saying is this a contraction when the monitor has gone over 100. Of course its a bloody contraction and it f*ing hurts so dont go feeling up my belly while its going on. That is all.

    • LOL! My solution to that was not having any future grandmas in the room. I actually had a student midwife attending my second labour and she was all up in my business feeling for contractions, so I know how much it sucked. I was OK with her though, because I figure she had to learn somehow. But nanna sure as heck doesn’t need to!

  4. You should do a follow up post entitled “Things not to do when she’s having a C-section”! And if you do could i suggest the following point be included…

    If your wife has a caesarian and you are invited by the obstetrician to come and “come and have a look at her uterus” the smart man will decline. Because the smart man will also realise his wife may not love the idea of him seeing parts of her anatomy that she herself has never seen.

    The smart man will also realise that describing her uterus as looking “kind of like a whoopie cushion… but with ears” will delay the resumption of post partum sex by up to 12 months!

  5. I thought Robbie Williams was a TOTAL dick during the birth of his child haha. How restrained his partner was in the face of his dickery (autocorrect just suggested fuckery as an alternative).
    My husband was legendary during my last labour, I loved him like never before after. When things went very wrong, baby’s shoulder was stuck behind my pubis bone and I was starring in my very own horror show, which is when the OB took my gas away! My husband offered the middle joint of his finger to my mouth in a foolhardy gesture of solidarity, and I absolutely took him up on it, and bit down with all my might. I am surprised that said digit still exists.
    Dani @ sand has no home

    • Yes, I have to say that very few of my preferred celebrities could get away with those kind of antics, from my perspective. Robbie is one of them. He has that adorable cheeky charm that has no doubt got him out of a few scrapes in his time.

  6. While my hubby was extremely supportive, he had me laughing my epidurally effected arse off during the birth of both my children by emergency Cesareans. Glad my kids were born into laughter and smiles.

    • That’s gorgeous. I have to admit, after I had an epidural with #1, it was the best thing ever. We sat around eating red snakes and watching Dr Phil. Totally chilled, which was the complete opposite of what had come before x

  7. I loved his updates but only because his wife seemed 100% in on them and partaking. If she was pissed off I would have been too. I think if that is there fun relationship good on them. My labour was long for # 1 and exhausting until 140am the following day. Hubby stuck through it all very well, second was induction and full on for 2 hours that included them taking away my gas and air leaving me with just the bite piece BOY DID I YELL AT THEM like a wolverine!!! Xx

    • Yes, I suspect she was not at all surprised! Both of mine were inductions. I epi’d up for #1 but chose to go without drugs for #2. There was a lot of yelling going on. And bellowing. And groaning. I was not a “quiet” labourer.

  8. The father of my five children told me to stop being a sook because I kept asking for an epidural. I’m not joking. He also ignored me and chatted to the anesthetist (who finally turned up) about tennis because he belonged to the same tennis club. Robbie was a bit annoying. This is super funny Hugzy.

  9. Such a good post, Mel! Had me smiling as per usual. I just quietly want to let you know that babies do not come out of butts but vaginas. There is a lot of anatomy confusion out there and I just thought I’d be helpful here. haha!

  10. I was induced and the gel didn’t work. I had to have the drip and because my blood pressure was sky high (I had pre-eclampsia) they gave me an epidural before the labour got too intense. Best. Drug. Ever. About the only thing I didn’t like about it was that my entire left side from my hips down just went completely dead. I couldn’t move my leg at all so my mum had to move if for me.

    Paul listened to the footy while I was in labour and I actually didn’t mind. Although I think that was the epidural talking. I did death stare them when the called my Dad for Maccas though. My poor Dad didn’t know where to look when he walked into the room and all I had on was a hospital gown with my legs propped up.

  11. Oh so much YES!!!
    I loved when I was listening the other day, and Robbie’s wife was all calm as he started singing, then yelled “stop singing Frozen!”. Just hilarious.
    John still says that he has no feeling in his hand, 11 years later……Don’t. Even!
    Every pregnant woman and her partner should be given a copy of this to study, hun xx

  12. My contractions started at about 11pm. At about 3 am my husband said, “Are we going to hospital or not, because I need a shower.” He then proceeded to shower and left me on my own to time my contractions. I wish I was even kidding. He also left to walk into town and have lunch while I was at the hospital and asked me to wait until he got back to have our son. I told him I couldn’t make any promises and I sure as “F” wouldn’t be holding him in!

  13. Sadly mine wasn’t very overly helpful at all – although he was good to swear it! I can’t remember being pissed off at my mine, oh the one time he tried to side with the midwife when I was using gas as oxygen for an hour, they suggested I take a break – WHATEVER!

  14. LOL – #7 is definitely the one I relate to the most. I wasn’t in labour very long but whatever he did was wrong !!!
    Can you rub my back – not there, up, no down, no up – CAN’T YOU FIND THE RIGHT SPOT
    Can you hold my hand – too tight, are you holding it, tighter – OK JUST LEAVE ME ALONE
    I’m so hot – can you get me some ice – what’s this ? Why is it so COLD ?
    Poor bugger – I’m surprised that 23yrs later he is still around. He’s very brave – not only has he stuck by me through child birth but he’s sticking around with me through menopause – even though I’ve told him more than once – if I was married to me, I would have left me by now !!!!!!!
    Have the best day !

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