The cringeworthy things partners do and say in the delivery room

 Photo: Getty Images

In the movies, giving birth looks simple. The labouring woman puffs a few times, her partner lovingly holds her hand, and within moments the couple are smiling at their precious newborn.

In real life, giving birth is a little more complicated. It can also go for a lot longer than expected. Consequently, it's quite common to crack a few jokes during that time.

This is what Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively discovered when she was in labour with her daughter James, 14 months ago.

In a recent interview, Reynolds admits the couple were both joking throughout labour, so he decided it would be a good idea to 'jam' to the Marvin Gaye classic Let's Get It On.

Though they'd both been laughing until that point, Lively apparently wasn't amused by Reynolds' latest attempt at humour.

"It was like steak knives came out of her eyes," Reynolds says of his wife's response.

"It was like, 'Are you f*&^ing sh%^&ing me right now?'"

Reynolds wasn't the first (and he surely won't be the last) expectant parent to do something cringeworthy in the delivery room.


Take Hannah, for instance: when she was in labour with her first child, her husband blurted out, "If this is going to take much longer, I'm going to have to go back to work." (Her labour ended up going for 70 hours, ending in an emergency C-section. And no, her partner didn't go back to work in the middle.)

Wendy can empathise. She opted to forgo pain relief for her second labour, choosing to have a water birth and keeping the room ambient with the use of aromatherapy oils.

She was in the birthing pool when she heard her husband ask the midwife for some painkillers because his "head was pounding".

Given the amount of pain Wendy was in at the time, she couldn't help but laugh at her husband's request for painkillers because of a headache.

Admittedly, it's not always partners who say something inappropriate in the delivery room. For Barb, it was her mother who crossed the line.

After giving birth, Barb's mother peeked at Barb's still pregnant-looking stomach and said, "Oh, I thought you were meant to have had the baby".

Needless to say, Barb was not amused.

Meanwhile, Brenden admitted to causing a stir when his wife, Jan-Maree, was in labour – not because of anything embarrassing he said, but rather through his actions.

During her first delivery, Jan-Maree had an epidural and Brenden was given the task of holding her leg up. But just as their baby was about to arrive, Brenden got so excited, he accidentally dropped her leg.

Though it didn't hurt at the time, Jan-Maree suffered a sore hip for a long time afterwards.

Then, during their second baby's birth, Jan-Maree complained the laughing gas wasn't working. Brenden noticed he had accidentally kicked the machine and detached it. He quickly popped it back together before she could find out his mistake.

(Brenden now jokes that he was lucky to be invited to the birth of his third and fourth babies.)

As a midwife, Karen Faulkner has seen her fair share of unusual moments in the delivery room.

She's caught partners "trying out" the gas themselves, as well as those who slept soundly next to their labouring partners.

She also saw one husband faint just as his baby's head was crowning. There was no time to attend to him, or even move him. "We had to just step over him!" Karen explains.

Most memorable, she says, was a farmer who watched his wife give birth. At the beautiful moment when his baby entered the world, he called out: "It's just like a cow giving birth to a calf!"

While some comments and actions are inadvertently cringe-worthy, Faulkner says joking around in the delivery room can be beneficial.

"I think humour often diffuses a stressful situation and can be very helpful," she says.

That said, it's important for partners to 'read' the mood of the mum-to-be, and use their best judgement about when to joke, and how.

Reynolds would probably agree with that. As he now knows, playing Let's Get It On while your wife is mid-contraction isn't always guaranteed to result in laughter.