A Father-To-Be’s Guide To Birth by Midwife Zoe
The nursery is painted, your hospital bag is packed and the birth plan written. As the Mother-To-Be you might feel prepared for the final countdown to labour – but what about your partner??
It is estimated the majority of Australian men (over 90%) now attend the birth of their child, and most want to play an active role. Simply parking the car and shouting “PUSH” just isn’t enough. They genuinely feel that supporting their partner in labour is crucial. The problem for a lot of men is knowing exactly how. As a Midwife I see men feel helpless in the labour room. A Dad-To-Be can’t take your place and have contractions, which can make him feel hopeless and distressed. So what can men do???
Men are usually better at dealing with the practical realities rather than the emotional ones. This gives you the opportunity to find concrete ways to help him help you. Antenatal Classes are a great way to involve dads from early on and to help find a clear role for them in labour. With BornOnline’s Antenatal Classes the Dad-To-Be can watch the classes that are relevant to him at a time that is suitable. Rather than having to attend a week-night class or a weekend class where the Dad-To-Be is exhausted (as you are too) after work or a long work week, he can choose to watch one class at a time when you both have a chance to sit down together in a relaxed environment – at home. Men are finding the BornOnline internet based Antenatal Classes perfect for their lifestyle.
SPECIFIC INFORMATION FOR THE DAD TO BE
So the big day is approaching. While you can’t wait to see how much your baby looks like you, you’re secretly anxious about how you will cope. You have to think of your role as your partner’s support and her advocate. Accept that you are not going to stop the pain but you can do your best to keep her comfortable and fulfill her wishes. Most importantly “DO NOT PANIC”.
- Write down the phone number of the labour ward. Put it on the fridge, in your wallet and save it to your mobile phone.
- Make sure you know where your partner’s hospital bag is.
- Plan your route to the hospital. Work out how long it will take especially in peak hour, and have a back-up route in mind just in case.
- Investigate parking and how much it costs. Have a credit card or sufficient change in the car for 24 hours worth of parking fees. Don’t let the car ever get low on petrol.
- Put the car seat in the car. This is an important aspect of readiness for your newborn baby’s safety.
- Pack some snacks in the hospital bag so that in labour you will have something to eat in the case you cannot leave the room.
- Discuss the birth with your partner. Ask who she wants in the labour room, what pain relief (if any) she may want, what labour positions she may want to use and how she feels about any intervention in labour/birth. Remember you are going to be her advocate, so you need to know her wishes.
- Keep your mobile phone charged and switched on all the time.
- For the last few weeks of the pregnancy consume alcohol wisely and in moderation. You must consider yourself to be on call 24 hours a day and in a safe condition to drive a car in what can be a stressful environment.
- Know the signs. These might include her waters breaking, diarrhoea or a bloody show. The most reliable sign that labour has begun is the onset of contractions. Regular, period-like cramps that are gradually increasing in intensity and frequency.
- Call the hospital – but be prepared to stay at home a little longer and the Midwife asking to speak to your partner rather then yourself. We generally prefer to speak to the woman so we can ask specific questions that only she will know.
- Time her contractions. There are App’s you can get for your mobile phone to help you with this if you need. Note how often they are coming and how long they are lasting for. You can also read Midwife Ebony’s blog on “How to time contractions” here.
- Prepare something to eat and drink. You both need to keep yourselves hydrated and well fuelled.
- Suggest ways to help your partner with her pain. Back massage, a warm shower or bath or a small walk will help.
- Prepare to leave home. Once her contractions are 4-5 minutes apart, lasting a minute and they have been like that for a good hour or more and are extremely intense, it’s probably time to go to the hospital. Always call the hospital before you make your way in. There is always the chance that you may be sent home again if your partner is not in established labour. Be prepared for this.
- Don’t forget the hospital bag, snacks and water, your mobile phone, charger and of course your camera.
IN THE DELIVERY SUITE
- Stay close. Don’t go walking around the hospital with out your partner. Once she is in established labour she will need you there for support.
- Offer support. Wipe her forehead with a cool cloth, put some relaxing music on, hold her hand, rub her back, and offer her water/ice. Remember what you learnt in Antenatal Classes.
- Use encouraging words. Tell her she is doing a great job. Tell her you love her. She needs to hear lots of positive things at this time.
- Talk to the staff. Make sure they know your partner’s wishes for the labour/birth. Build a rapport with your midwife.
- Listen carefully to the midwives and doctors. Ask questions if needed.
- Try not to get upset or angry if your partner is in a lot of pain and you feel helpless. Remember it is a positive pain with a purpose – and it will be over soon.
- Don’t take her behaviour personally. Be prepared for her to abuse you to a certain extent. She may be abrupt, shout, swear and scream, and totally out of her normal character. This is completely normal behaviour for a woman in labour.
- Be prepared to get emotional. You will remember the moment your baby is born for the rest of your life. Don’t feel like a wuss if you start to cry as you cut the umbilical cord. Whatever you are feeling is natural so go with it.
NOW YOU ARE A DAD…….
- Say hello to your baby. Then initiate early bonding by cuddling (maybe even skin-to-skin) with your newborn as much as you can.
- Tell your partner how well she’s done and how proud you are of her. You can even have a surprise present ready (like jewellery) but no pressure – some kind words or a card with a heart felt message works just as well.
- Don’t get too carried away with sending photos to other people. Make sure you are not sending the ones of your partner covered in blood or nude. Make sure she has had a chance to check them first.
- NEVER NEVER eat the food and drinks left for your partner after she has spent 20 hours in labour. You can also head down the road and pick up something nutritious and yummy to eat because after all, you both deserve a celebration to begin this new phase in your relationship and your journey as parents of a newborn baby.
(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).