Being prepared for labour and birth – for dads and partners
Week 29 of the pregnancy is close enough to the due date for you to begin thinking about the labour and birth. By now you may have already attended, or will be about to attend, antenatal classes with your partner, so the reality of what is about to happen should be beginning to settle in your mind.
As such here’s the My BabyManual list of useful stuff that dads and partners can do to ensure that everything is ready for the big day when it finally arrives and, what’s more, that they are fully prepared to negotiate any possible complications to their best laid plans.
Practical steps to take when thinking about the labour and birth
The first thing to remember is that although you are making plans to minimise any stress and responsibility felt by your partner at the time of the birth, you still have a duty to follow her plans. As such we begin with point one:
- Learn and understand the birth plan – If you and your partner have written or discussed a birth plan be sure to familiarise yourself with it over the coming few weeks. This way, you will know when she would like to go to the hospital (unless you’re having a home birth), whether she wants a water birth, the pain relief she wants, how she wants the placenta to be delivered and what she wants to do with it afterwards. Your partner is not going to be in an ideal frame of mind for communicating during the labour and birth. As such you may have to become her voice; so, be true to it.
- Pack your bags – No, we’re not suggesting that now is the time for you to implement your escape plan. What we mean is that you should ensure that everything you need is packed and ready to go. Your partner is likely to have made her own decisions about what she wants – specific clothing, specific snacks, toiletries, books, music, sanitary towels, nappies, baby clothes, etc – your job is to ensure that it’s in an easy to access place, so that it’s ready go when she is. Oh and maybe sort some stuff out for yourself: books, magazines, snacks, a phone charger. Because the last thing you’ll need to be doing when the contractions are getting closer is to be worrying about your own gear.
- Plan your route – Be sure you know exactly how you’re going to get to the hospital. This means that, if you’re planning to drive, you aren’t relying entirely on a Sat Nav, that you are aware of any possible road works, that you factor in things such as rush hour and the school run, and that you have fully considered issues such as parking (you will need change). If you are not driving, have the numbers of several taxi companies to hand (call them beforehand to ensure that they offer a 24-hour service) or the commitment of several friends or family members who are willing to drive you at any time of the night or day.
- Have a back-up – Perhaps you’re going to be away for a meeting during week 35, perhaps your job means you are occasionally uncontactable – whatever the case, be sure to have at least three people whom you can rely on to take on your role in the event that you can’t be there.
- Ensure provisions – We’ve already mentioned snacks, and here’s why. Some labours can take more than 24 hours and even the quickest of births involve the burning of a lot of calories. Ensure that you have adequate food and drink for your partner and that you’re not relying on hospital food or snack dispensers. In fact, bring enough for yourself as well as your partner – you don’t want to be stealing her snacks during labour. Believe us, it does not go down well.
- Know the signs – Late pregnancy can bring many false flags – for example, Braxton Hicks contractions – so it is important that you can help your partner recognise the real thing. Signs that she might be in labour include her waters breaking, regular contractions occurring at increasingly shorter intervals, persistent lower back pain that feels similar to premenstrual aches, vomiting and the passing of the mucus plug.
Lastly, keep calm and good luck!