What not to do when your partner is in labour

There are no standard 'what to do's', but there are some 'absolutely 100% things not to do' when being a support person ...
There are no standard 'what to do's', but there are some 'absolutely 100% things not to do' when being a support person at birth.  Photo: Getty Images

Robbie Williams very much stole the show during his wife Ayda Field's labour, but while entertaining thousands around the world he pretty much demonstrated everything on the 'what not to do when your partner is in labour' list.

I don't know Robbie personally (except in my dreams), but I would like to think that his antics on social media were approved by Ayda in advance. She does seem to be happy to play along – except for some grimacing during his rendition of Frozen's Let It Go.

It must be tough for men. Let's face it, 'giving birth', the physical act of moving a baby from the uterus into the world (regardless of the path it takes), is more about the mother than the father. I don't want to diminish the role of the dad here; it can't be easy to see your partner enduring the agony of labour. Then there's all that angst over the 'business end'.

But if we're being honest, it's definitely the woman that's doing the hard bit.

So what can menfolk do to help? How can you support your partner? How can you make yourself useful in the delivery room? The answer is … there is no standard answer. Sorry about that. Women are all different, and what works for some ("please rub my back") doesn't work for others ("get your effing hands off me!" – but without the swearing being toned down, in most cases).

While there are no standard 'what to do's', there are some 'absolutely surefire 100 per cent tested things not to do'. Here they are:

  • don't go for a lie down because "you're so tired"
  • don't go for a snack because "you're so hungry"
  • don't act like its teamwork. She's in labour, you are not. Comments like "come on, we're nearly there" will not be appreciated
  • do not flirt with the midwife – even if you think it's funny, it's not
  • don't whinge when she squeezes your hand. However painful it is, it is not labour. Suck it up
  • don't answer your phone. Even if it's important. Even if it's Michael Clarke and he wants you to bat for Australia. Voicemail was invented for a reason
  • however bored you may be, do not whip out the ol' PlayStation (no, that's not a euphemism). Now is not the time
  • and finally, regardless of how entertaining Robbie Williams made it look, now is not the time for social media. Facebook updates and tweets should not include the words "10cm dilated and ready to push" – unless they are coming from the mother, of course (in which case, wow), or she has specifically given permission beforehand (you'd also have to discuss the level of detail you're allowed to divulge).

Most importantly, remember that it's not about you. I know it sounds harsh, and I appreciate that your role is not an easy one, but however tired/hungry/bored you are, just remember that it's only temporary. And soon there will be a brand new little person in the world, and after that, it will never be about you again.

But you know what? You won't mind one tiny bit.