December 30, 2019
You got her to the hospital. Now the real work starts. You are going to be a new dad soon, but before that, you need to get your shit together and focus.
So go take your 30 seconds of meditation or splash some cold water on your face because it’s time to be the hand-holding, mental toughness-coaching, confident, stomach of steel champion that you are meant to be.
So what the hell are you supposed to do when you get into the labor and delivery room? We’ve got you.
When is it time to go to the hospital/birthing center?
What are all of the machines?
How can I help with pain relief?
What is my role during the labor?
What is my role during the delivery?
What if there is a c-section?
What happens when the baby comes?
What if there are complications?
Braxton Hicks contractions sound scary because of their name, but they’re not. They can leave you questioning whether it’s time to press play on your fave Netflix show or if it’s really time head over to the ER and start active labor. Many moms will make at least one visit to the hospital or birthing center too early thinking it is time. So, how do you know when it’s actually time to take your partner to the hospital or birthing center? Here are a few tips to help you decide. Either way, don’t write them off as nothing so easily.
Download a contraction tracking app
A quality contraction timing app will have you mark when the contraction starts, ends, and when the next one begins. You can read more about contraction timing from Bloom Life. If you don’t have access to a phone or device with an app, you will want to write down the information to help you track the contractions to better see when it is time to go. Having this info will help when you talk to your doctor.
How frequent and regular are the contractions?
Ask your doctor what he/she considers active labor. Do this at one of your appointments and earn some brownie points! However, most doctors will say contractions lasting 1 minute and coming every 4-5 minutes are a signal that it is time to go into a hospital or birthing center. You can read more about this timing in this article from What to Expect. Once contractions have hit this regular rhythm and are consistent, you will want to get ready to go.
When her water breaks
If your partner’s water breaks you need to go to the hospital or birthing center. Period. Hopefully, you have your hospital bag packed up and ready to go. Once the water is broken, it can trigger labor to accelerate.
Your lady is finally in labor. You’ve made it to a room and there are machines everywhere. No...you’re not in an episode of Star Trek...it’s all good. Everything in the room serves a purpose and is there to help you and your partner welcome your new baby. Below are a few of the machines you can expect to see. Don’t be afraid to ask a nurse or midwife what things are if it will help you to support your partner and feel less anxious throughout the process.
The machine with the paper coming out of it
There is a more technical name for this machine but that is the easiest way to explain it. This machine will be running for the entire labor process. It does a few things. The sheet of paper will show the medical professional how frequently contractions are coming, the baby’s heart rate, and how those two things relate. The numbers on the screen are also important. The 132 you see pictured is the baby’s heart rate. 142/94 would be mom’s blood pressure. 73 is mom’s pulse and 14 has to do with the position of the contraction.
The computer monitor
This machine will be a big help for you as your partner is in labor. The top line will show you when a contraction is coming and how regularly they are coming. Many husbands will watch this monitor as a way to see when a contraction is coming so they can support their partner. You will learn during the process that as it starts to go up her pain level will go up as this is a contraction.
Stuff attached to your woman
There will be lots of devices connected to your lady. You might see something that looks like a waistband wrapped around the prego belly of your lady. This will be monitoring contractions and heart rate for the baby. As labor progresses you may see these adjusted multiple times over. The medical professionals are simply trying to get the best reading possible. Your partner may also have an I.V., blood pressure cuff, and if she has an epidural, a special machine in charge of the epidural.
Just be there. It’s a “no duh” that pregnancy is painful. It might be hard for you to watch, but it’s a thousand times harder for her to give birth, so shut up and be there for her. Hold her hand. If she wants to talk about things, talk about them. Remind her that things are going to be ok and that she is safe and you love her. You do those things and you are already winning. Whatever you do, don’t joke, even if it is something you do when you are nervous. Don’t freaking joke around in the labor and delivery room. Not the right time or place, bro.
Help her to breathe through contractions.
If you went to a birthing class, this is where that breathing training comes into play. If you didn’t, we’re pretty sure you know how to breathe. You just have to take it up a notch when you are having a baby. An OBGYN nurse we spoke with shared the birthday candle method. Imagine a birthday cake with one hundred candles on it. Every time you blow one out, it re-lights. This will help you think to do short, quick breaths. Those short quick breaths, similar to blowing out candles, will help you and her to remember to breathe.
Listen to her doctor, midwife, or nurse.
The medical professionals walking her through her labor will help you to help her. They may recommend pressing firmly on her back, helping her to change positions. This may be uncomfortable for you but it will give you the ability to bring some comfort to your partner.
Listen to your partner.
She’s gonna scream and she might hate you from time to time during the labor. Wouldn’t you if you had something coming out of you? Just listen. Stay consistent with the tips above and you will be fine. You got this.
As The Rock says, “know your role and shut your damn mouth!” Part of this definitely applies. In addition to no joking and staying focused on her, you need to know that you are the most hated and loved person in the room. Your job can be summed up in one simple word. Support. Just be there to support her. She needs you to help her feel heard and right...it’s that simple.
Help execute her birth plan - or throw it out the window.
Chances are if your wife is Type A, she put a birth plan together. The way she hopes and wishes things will go. Having a birth plan is awesome and if things are going well, it is your job to help make sure it is executed properly by the medical staff. BUT if things start going wrong, listen to the doctor. The doctors will try to talk to your wife, but she might not hear it all, so simply help by repeating what the doctor said and ask her for her input. You do NOT need to make decisions for her, unless she gives you permission to do so.
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