I specify dads in this situation because, as to date, my only experience with people fainting, or nearly fainting, in Labor & Delivery has been with expectant fathers. So far, there haven’t been any instances of grandmothers, same-sex partners, sisters, etc. who have gone down for the count. I will post any differences should the situation arise!
Throughout our prenatal consultations, I try to gauge dad’s comfort level with blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids he may be faced with in L&D. If dad’s are particularly squeamish, and I know that ahead of time, I take extra precautionary measures. I also encourage these dads in particular to stay by his partner’s head during pushing time. Sometimes, though, these dads get curious, and are not prepared for what they see…
(The dad pictured above did not pass out, but Tiffany Farley captured the “I’ve seen too much” faces perfectly.)
So far, in every circumstance when dad has been feeling too woozy to stand, it has been during the same point in delivery. The seem to make it past “peek-a-boo”, past early crowning, but then right at the end of the “ring of fire” is when, all of a sudden, they go weak in the knees. I can’t say I blame them; if you aren’t expecting it, it is quite a phenomena to see the human body go through so much. Mix that in with not sleeping, barely eating, and being on such an emotional high for so long, it’s no wonder this happens so often.
What do I do when dads hit the deck? My main focus is still mom, so while I guide her through contractions, and help her through those last few pushes, I am also having dad sip on orange juice, nibble on saltines, and am continuously flipping over the cold cloth I am holding on his neck. As long as he is able, I try to snap him back into action for the last push. I let him rest until that point, but the excitement of meeting his child usually provides enough adrenaline that he doesn’t pass out again.
Once the baby is born, I then have dad focus completely on his new bundle of joy, and his partner’s upper half. I focus on mom for the after birth procedures. In my experience, dad is too overjoyed to notice the birthing of the placenta, fundal massage, stitching, etc.
One of my favorite things about being a doula is helping bring couples together during such a joyous time. There are still plenty of ways to get partners and other key labor support people involved if you think they fall into this category. I work tirelessly to make sure everyone has a place and a job in L&D.
Did your partner go down for the count? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below!