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Daddy daze: man’s labour survival guide

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One of my really good friends is also having a child this spring and we were on WhatsApp the other day, talking about how prepared we are (AREN'T) to be fathers.

I registered with the maternity ward at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital last week and I even went on a tour of the ward this past weekend. It got me thinking — I still have no clue what I'm doing.

I'm going to take that as a positive. I think feeling underprepared is better than a false sense of confidence when going into a labour.

Of course I'm trying to rectify this by going to birthing classes when I can, and visiting the OB/GYN to get all the information that's required, but I've come to the conclusion that I need to make another list.

Here are some things fathers will need to survive 18-plus hours supporting labouring mothers at the hospital. This list is called: Dad Grylls Survival Pack

Bring a tennis/stress ball. I sincerely doubt your newborn child will be in the mood for catch on his/her first day breathing real air, but you can make sure the mother will not crush your hand by replacing it, periodically, with a ball.

Food. I cannot stress this enough. Your spouse might be in the hospital in labour for close to a full day. If you are going to stay overnight, you will need rations. Take as many snacks as you can.

You'll need a stopwatch. Not to time the contractions, for you. With all the anxiety and sweating and racing heartbeats you might actually get a good workout at the hospital. Bring your Apple Watch or your Fitbit.

Pack some Tiger Balm. All of the pacing and supporting you'll be doing is going to do a number on your joints. Pre-empt all of that by applying Tiger Balm liberally throughout your time in the hospital. Trust me, your knees and back will thank you later.

Make sure you pack your mobile phone charger. Not so you can Snapchat the whole birth (you'll probably get kicked out for that) but so your phone doesn't die. Literally everyone in your family will be trying to call you to find out how it's going — the entire time you're there.

You'll need a board game. Maybe Monopoly, maybe Clue, possibly even Risk. Depending on which stage of labour the mother is going through at the time you could even include the baby(ies). You'll definitely have enough players for Risk if you include the obstetrician, the midwife, the baby's nurse, the anaesthesiologist and the janitor, and you don't know how long you'll end up being there.

I'm sure there are things I've forgotten, like a tent for the overnight stay, but you can probably use a couple sheets and a birthing squat bar to take care of that problem.

Well-equpped: a few cleverly chosen board games will help pass the time during a long labour (Photograph Steven Senne/PA)
Dad to be: Husayn Symonds

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Published March 31, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated March 31, 2016 at 8:25 am)

Daddy daze: man’s labour survival guide

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