Pregnancy is a stressful time for a woman – and for an expecting father as well. Becoming a father is a time of great change for a man, with added strain pertaining to financial planning and the changing dynamic of the relationship between himself and his partner, says OB/GYN Kecia Gaither, Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. The tenseness of labor and delivery can heighten these fears. But with a few creative strategies, you can help keep Dad calm and relaxed during labor and delivery.

Acknowledge Concerns
As nervous tension can have a negative impact on both the mother and the unborn child during delivery, it is important to acknowledge your husband’s concerns and find ways to deal with them together, Gaither recommends. Reassuring phrases such as “I know this is a big step for both of us, but together, we can conquer our fears,” may help him relax and focus on the excitement of parenting versus the stresses. “This will help both of you manage your stress levels throughout the pregnancy, and during labor and delivery,” Gaither says.

Share Your Own Fears
Share your own concerns about the potential pain, complications or health implications with your husband to show him that he is not alone in his state of worry. “By sharing your own fears and stress inducers and listening to your partner’s, you can greatly reduce the stress of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and work as a team in figuring out how to best address each other’s concerns,” Gaither observes.

Attend Birthing Classes
Many women fear the unexpected when it comes to labor and delivery, and their husband’s fears are typically closely aligned, Gaither notes. Look into birthing classes offered at your local hospital so you both know what to expect. If your husband is weak at the sight of blood, discuss strategies, such as breathing and positive affirmations, with a professional counselor to help you both better understand what to expect during delivery, Gaither advises. This way, you can prepare together.

Stay Informed
One of the best ways to keep your husband calm during labor and delivery is to keep him as informed as possible, says OB/GYN Angela Jones, based in New Jersey. “I can’t tell you how many husbands I meet for the first time at the time of delivery,” Jones says. “Coming to prenatal visits with your wife would be huge in terms of providing an opportunity to discuss what to expect at the time of labor, as well as reviewing some of the concepts that are covered in birthing classes,” Jones notes. This clarification can help make the birthing process proceed much more smoothly — not only for the wife, but also for the husband, who often times can feel as if he isn’t an important part of the equation, Gaither says.