You’d like to be strong and supportive for your wife in the delivery room… if only your knees would stop knocking. Keep both of you from freaking out with these tricks.
Step 1: Fake it On the big day, force yourself to pretend that you’re relaxed and confident. Simply acting like you’re cool, calm, and collected doesn’t just fool others—it actually tricks your own brain into believing that you feel that way.
TIP: If you feel yourself starting to lose it, pick a spot in the room to stare at until you feel calmer. That’s what expectant mothers are taught to do in Lamaze classes.
Step 2: Breathe Take another tip from Lamaze—breathe! Inhale deeply, count to ten, and exhale. Deep breathing physically relaxes you by slowing your heart rate.
Step 3: Talk Talk to your wife—about anything other than what’s happening. It will divert her from the pain and you from panic.
Step 4: Reassure her Make reassuring gestures—hold her hand, stroke her hair, give her a back or foot massage. Doing something nice for someone else triggers the release of endorphins, which will boost your spirits.
Step 5: Listen to music Play some relaxing, quiet music—nothing with a strong beat—and when you start to feel overwhelmed, sit, close your eyes, and focus on the soothing tune.
TIP: Force yourself to keep your voice quiet and calm, too. Hearing the panic in your own voice will stress you out even further.
Step 6: Drink up! Have a drink—of orange juice, that is. Vitamin C lowers stress hormones in the bloodstream—and the effect is almost immediate. Don’t like juice? A 1,000 mg tablet of vitamin C will work, too.
Step 7: Chew some gum Chew some gum. A Columbia University study found that chewing relaxes people by reducing muscular tension.
: Studies show lavender and vanilla increase the brain’s alpha waves, which are associated with relaxation. But beware: while you bliss out, your wife could be nauseated by the scents.
Step 8: Go to your happy place Visualize something soothing. Brain scans show that if you close your eyes and picture a peaceful scene, you’ll start producing relaxing alpha waves in less than 30 seconds.
Step 9: Take a break If things become too intense and you’re worried you’re going to faint, have a seat and tuck your head between your knees—or step out of the room completely for a breath of fresh air. Better to take a quick break than to create your very own medical emergency.
FACT: The first hospital in Iran to allow fathers in the delivery room did so in 2007.