Husbands, as you allow your wife to grip your hand tightly in the midst of a push, give her words of encouragement (“You’re doing great, honey!”), wipe her sweaty forehead and hold her leg for additional support. That’s what you’re there for, that and only that.
It won’t help your wife ― who has probably not eaten since she went into labour ― to know that the Japanese restaurant at the hospital deserves a Michelin star for the freshness of its sashimi. Nor does she want to hear that you are suffering from a backache just waiting for her to dilate the full 10cm.
It may sound like innocent small talk to you. But a human being the size of a bowling ball is working its way out of your wife’s body, so the last thing she’s up for are wisecracks from you. So, fellas, as much as you want to lighten the mood during an intense childbirth experience, resist the urge to do so, and just do as you’re told.
Whatever you do though, steer clear of blurting out any of the following sentences mentioned below. Instead, try the ones we’ve suggested. You can thank us later, when you’re not sleeping on the couch.
Infographic: Syahirah Maszaid
What not to say #1: “Oh, look honey, we are almost the same weight!”
Why not to say it: Your wife has been growing a baby inside of her for almost 10 months. She is literally two people, so what she weighs at the end of her last trimester is justified. What’s your excuse?
What to say instead: “That’s a healthy weight to be at in your last trimester, honey. Well done!”
What not to say #2: Woah, that’s one GIGANTIC needle!”
Why not to say it: Epidurals are administered in the spine to help block the pain in that entire region, including the belly, hips, legs and pelvis. Do you know why these are administered at the back? So that a woman who’s agonising about popping a baby out of her whoo-ha doesn’t get freaked out even more when she sees how big the needle is.
What to say instead: “You will feel so much better after the epidural kicks in, darling.”
What not to say #3: “Boy, this is exhausting. Shall we take a wefie to pass the time?”
Why not to say it: Whether she’s on epidural, or not, waiting 10 hours or more to achieve full dilation is exhausting for any woman. And only the woman. We don’t care if you’re feeling unwell. Labour trumps everything, so zip it!
What to say instead: “You must be exhausted, can I give you a back or foot rub?”
What not to say #4: “Oh, ooops, I think I unplugged something…”
Why not to say it: The wife knows she’s hooked up to several machines, so that the doctors and nurses can monitor her and the baby. She wants to hear the soothing and stable “beep, beep, beep” coming from these machines, which indicates that everything is going smoothly. What she doesn’t want to hear is that your big foot came in the way of these life-saving machines. If you think you unplugged something, get it resolved without alerting your wife.
What to say instead: “Let me pop out for a second to speak to the nurse. I just want to make sure the machines are working well.”
What not to say #5: “The steak sandwich downstairs is ah-mazing!”
Why not to say it: The last time your wife ate was probably a good five or six hours ago. Women in labour aren’t allowed to eat anything when it’s in full swing, meaning that they will have to wait until after giving birth and warded before they can eat. This could easily be anything from 12 to 24 hours, depending on how quick or slow the birth was and if there were any complications. She doesn’t need to know that while she’s going through all of this, you’re having the time of your life.
What to say instead: “Think about what you want to eat after giving birth, I’ll even go to JB to get it for you if I have to.”
What not to say #6: “Can I quickly pop out to grab some grub? I’m starving and don’t know how long this is going to take.”
Why not to say it: Who’s doing the pushing-the-baby-out-of-the-vagina here? If it’s not you, then you can wait!
What to say instead: “Just lean on me, I’m going to be right here for this entire thing, honey.”
What not to say #7: “Oh, that’s gross!”
Why not to say it: She’s literally pushing someone out of her, it’s bound to bring other bodily matter out as well. She’s already embarrassed at having to flash her bits to a roomful of strangers. You don’t need to make her feel any worse.
What to say instead: “Keep pushing honey, you’re doing great. I’m so proud of you!”
What not to say #8: “Could you not squeeze my hand so tightly? It’s very painful.”
Why not to say it: I’m sorry, you are in pain? If only there was an epidural for insensitive comments.
What to say instead: “Don’t let go of my hand, I’m right here. I’ll take you to the finish line.”
What not to say #9: “He looks just like me!”
Why not to say it: Your wife has been growing a little human inside of her. She’s had to endure morning sickness, pregnancy pain and complications, intense fatigue and oh yeah, she just birthed the baby. Tell her the little one looks like her even if he doesn’t!
What to say instead: “The baby is here, he has your eyes, nose, and beautiful smile!”
Main photo: iStock
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