Dads are clearly the second fiddle when it comes to delivery room dynamics. That’s not a bad thing: their primary objective is to support the laboring partner. But to do so well, expectant dads need to plan ahead in multiple ways. That includes prepping for the delivery room by taking classes with their partner, reading books, figuring out their roles ahead of time, and, of course, figuring out what — as in what product, shoes, accessories, and other tools — they may want to bring along in order to be the best version of themselves under stressful circumstances. But don’t know what to bring? Don’t worry. NFL Pro Bowler Jason Kelce has the scoop.
Kelce has played that pivotal support role on three separate occasions for his wife Kylie during the births of their daughters Wyatt, 4, Elliotte, 2, and Bennett, who will turn one next month. In a recent episode of the podcast New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce, he leaned on his experience in answering a reader’s question on delivery room essentials for dads.
Regardless of what ends up in your delivery day bag, know that it’s worth some extra consideration, as research shows that a dad’s mental health can be affected by how he experiences the birth of his child. Plus, another study indicates that when dads are active participants in the delivery process, the likelihood that the mother and child are healthy postpartum increases, moms are less likely to have complications during childbirth, and newborns are more likely to meet high health thresholds.
In other words, small considerations that help mitigate the effects of delivery day stress matter.
Kelce’s advice is so good because he keeps things simple: It’s just a four-item list and nothing unbelievable like a PS5 on the list. And while your must-have delivery room items may differ from his, the rationale behind his selections provides a good jumping-off point for dads thinking through their key essentials.
4. Something To Do
It’s tough to predict exactly how long a woman will be in active labor. According to Mayo Clinic, a typical range is between four and eight hours, but longer labor is not uncommon.
“You need to bring something that you can do because there’s gonna be a lot of sitting around,” Kelce says. “So, you know, take a book, you can bring a game, anything that you can do sitting around.”
In true younger brother fashion, Travis suggests just downloading good games to play, which Jason doesn’t totally shoot down.
“It’s a good option. Always a good option. But other than that, you’re going to be getting up and getting water. Listen, you’re the role player for the day. Your job is to assist your wife, make sure she’s comfortable, make sure she’s happy. And then outside of that, there’s not much else for you to do.”
Granted, while the wisdom Jason gained during his wife’s three deliveries is solid, it’s possible he wasn’t a delivery room guru straight out of the gate. Recording from a spare room in his home, he received some immediate feedback from Kylie during the segment.
“Why are you looking at me like that? I don’t know if Kylie approved of my last answer,” he said as Kylie remained off camera and off mic while Travis chuckled. Kylie is clearly ribbing Jason for how attentively he tended to her during at least one of her deliveries, though listeners are only privy to his side of the conversation.
“Did I not do a good job with that answer, Ky? She’s just laughing. What are you doing? Eavesdropping? No, I got water for you.”
“Jason, can you give me some water? Jason Just starts buzzing the nurse,” Travis chimes in, making fun of his brother.
Jason then makes an attempt to defend himself from apparently not grabbing water for his laboring wife by citing hospital COVID protocols that prevented him from leaving the room, which, on first blush, is a solid alibi. Jason and Kylie have been known to playfully goad each other, as witnessed by Kylie’s TikTok about Jason’s performance as her labor support person during the birth of their daughter Bennett early last year, which is a level of playfulness we are always here for.
3. On-The-Go Sustenance
This one’s tricky — standard medical practice is to limit laboring patients to clear liquid as a health and safety precaution during birth. But there are far fewer, if any, good reasons for the support partner to fast while their partner is in labor, as long as they keep consumption subtle and don’t do something crazy like tear into a bag of burgers or fried fish in the delivery room. Kelce’s tip is as practical as it gets — without running afoul of human decency.
“It’s really important when your wife starts going into labor, to eat a [protien] bar to get your blood sugar back up,” Kelce told his brother. “Because you don’t want to be passing out in the most important part of what you’re there for, to be able to be there to witness and offer support for your wife.”
2. A Place To Rest Your Weary Head
Hospital pillows may be a slight step up from those occasionally provided by airlines, but they don’t come close to holding their own against the pillow you’re used to sleeping on every night at home.
“If you have a pillow that you like, I would take that,” Kelce suggested. Hospitals typically provide a couch or recliner for partners to rest in during the laboring process, which is an adequate but not great arrangement. Bringing a pillow that you know works for you can up your comfort level exponentially.
1. A Fan
The back-and-forth between Jason and Kylie over whether or not he would bring a fan along for his personal comfort while she was laboring was one of the more relatable and hilarious bits in Kelce, so of course, it made the list. Granted, most of us don’t have the emotional connection to a favorite fan like Jason does — he has one fan in particular that he takes to training camp every year.
Nevertheless, he makes a solid case for hauling the small appliance along on a purely practical basis.
“First of all, you’ve got to make sure you have a fan. It can get really hot and uncomfortable in there,” he says. “If you like fans when you sleep, make sure you bring a fan.”
White noise is an added benefit he leaves unmentioned, as hospitals are full of unfamiliar sounds that can disrupt opportunities to rest, and if you are dad or mom, you’re either sleeping on a chair or in an uncomfortable hospital bed when you can as people move in and out of your room all day and night.
Of course, being a supportive partner to the birth-giving parent is more than about bringing the right gear.
For overall tips on how to be the best support person/delivery dad you can, check out our guide on the 4 tips to prepare yourself — and your spouse — for the delivery room. As for the next Super Bowl — which won’t include Jason Kelce on the field, though he may take part in some audience antics — it’s on Sunday, February 11th at 6:30 p.m. EST on CBS and Nickelodeon, as well as Paramount+ and the CBS Sports apps.