Water Breaking: Get the towels ready! Some women leak, others gush.
Labor Pains: Your wife may not tolerate labor very well. Even a soft-spoken mate may utter or yell things that surprise you—so if she claims, "This is all your fault," or swears a blue streak at you, don't take it personally: it's the pain speaking!
It may be difficult for you to watch a loved one endure intense pain. Your spouse is being monitored, but you are not. Know when you're in trouble and ask for help if you need it.
Cesarean Birth: Be prepared and informed about Cesarean births. Even a woman with a textbook pregnancy can find herself having an emergency C-section, so don't tune out to the Cesarean lesson in childbirth class!
If your wife's labor winds up with surgery, bear in mind that most women feel extreme disappointment and depression about not being able to deliver vaginally. Your spouse will need emotional support and extra recovery time. Let her know how proud of her you are and what a great job she did carrying that baby.
Episiotomy or Vaginal Tear: One of these may happen when your baby is in the home stretch of delivery. This cut or tear occurs in the perineum to accommodate the baby's head just before birth. Again, should this occur, your mate will need extra recovery time.
Don't Stand There if You Don't Want to Get Messy: The fluids that have been protecting your precious babe can become a wonderful mosaic on your shirt if you're not careful. So be warned, and wear a gown or something you don't mind having stained during delivery. Here's how one dad, John, relays his experience: "When the head popped out, what followed was a big spray of blood and amniotic fluid, and it coated the front of my new shirt. For the rest of the day I was on cloud nine and showing off my blood-spattered shirt to anyone I saw. This included the girl at the corner store, where I stopped on my way home. I thought it was like a new age christening ritual—splatter the dad."
Alien Baby: Traveling down the birth canal can be a rough process, and if your newborn has a tough go of it, he may resemble a Conehead from Saturday Night Live for a short while. His tiny face will be scrunched up and he'll have the cheesy coating called the vernix on him that protected him in the amniotic sac, as well as excess body hair called lanugo. There may also be some interesting birthmarks, pimples, and lesions on your little cherub. Fear not! Almost all of these signatures of birth are temporary.
The Afterbirth: The placenta and fetal membranes are expelled from the uterus (and "delivered") following the birth of the baby.