Judging by the fact you bothered to open this article, you’re going to ace it in the delivery room. Now let’s pair that winning attitude with a few practical tips for the big day.
You may not feel that useful right now, but the delivery room is your time to dig deep. If you listened up in birthing class, or even read a thing or two about what happens during labour, you’ve probably got a good idea about what’s expected of everyone else in that delivery room. From the doc, to your partner and even your baby, it seems like everyone is clear on what their job is. And by the time you’ve read this article, you will be too.
You’re expected to:
Step 1 - drop everything and get to that delivery room. Put down the delicious burger, walk off that eighth green, and tell Nigel the spreadsheet can wait. Unless your partner has instructed you otherwise, once they’ve gone into labour, there is nowhere else you should be. And don’t show up empty handed. Read up on what you should pack for the hospital. Here’s a tip, bring your swimmers in case she wants to hold onto you in the shower.
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Know your stuff
The car ride to the maternity ward is not the place to be learning the difference between stage one and stage three labour. Chat to your partner about her birth plan, and make sure you can recite it hand to heart. You probably don’t need your own plan, but having a few tricks up your sleeve will help your game. Like putting your hands to use and giving your partner a massage.
Handle all comms
Ahh communicating with the in-laws - difficult at the best of times, let alone when your partner is 10cm dilated. Send an update or two throughout to keep them sane, but for the most part, put your phone down. Needless to say, no work calls while your partner is dilated and refrain from updating your Instagram story.
Get out of the way
No matter where you choose to sit or stand, chances are you’ll be in the way at some point or another. The staff will let you know when to move, and when someone charged with safely delivering your baby says jump, by George, hop to it. Use this as your cue to go get more chips from the vending machine or use the bathroom. And please, please, please - refrain from ‘trying out’ her pain relief gas. Especially if you just had a tuna sandwich and forgot to pop a mint.
Your aim is to keep her focused and calm - which can seem ambitious when the baby is crowning. Moral of the story, respond to her cues. While that massage you gave her may have done wonders in stage one, by stage two labour, just the shadow of your hand on her skin may send her up the wall. Same goes for what comes out of your mouth. Your role as cheerleader may get old, and sometimes silence is golden. Don’t sulk in the corner if she swears at you, chances are it’s time to adapt your strategy.
Be her advocate
That birthing plan she clung to on the ride to the hospital is a flexible play-by-play. It’s your job to ask questions if things are veering from it. But equally, if plans go out the window, help her stay calm. Your partner may not be in the best state to make difficult decisions, so be ready to step in if the situation calls for it. Don’t be afraid to ask for an anesthesiologist, or for her doctor to be paged.
If things take an unexpected turn, stay calm. If your partner needs an emergency c-section, now is not the time to fall apart. It’s your job to hold yourself together, or, at the very least, put on your best poker face. Exude that calm energy, let her hear your familiar voice and reassuring tone.
Labour is exhausting, and 32 hours in, you may feel the overwhelming need to yawn. Don’t. Remember those all nighters you pulled back in the day? Whatever you do, don’t complain to your partner about how tiring this all is. In fact, don’t complain about anything, especially how sore your hand is from her squeezing. It’s time to rally, you’ve got this.
Look after yourself
There’s a whole room dedicated to looking after your partner and child. When it comes to you, you’ve only got yourself. Don’t be that person that passes out and pulls the nurse’s attention off their partner mid push. Bring snacks (and mints), take a break if you need it, and in lieu of a drip, keep those fluids up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or squeamish, step out of the room to compose yourself. When you come back in, focus your gaze on your partner’s hands or face, not what’s happening below her waist.
This is one of those rare moments in life in which selfies are warranted. Though probably not while she’s 10 centimetres dilated. Take your role as chief photographer seriously. Chat to your partner beforehand about when she’s comfortable for you to take photos. Watch your angles, and make goddamn sure your battery doesn’t go dead. Get ready for that Kodak moment when your partner finally meets your baby.
Don’t underestimate your role in the delivery room. You’re there to support your partner through one of the most incredible and challenging moments in her life. And when that baby has made its entry, that’s when you’ll really be put to use. We’ve got you sorted with the best ways to burp, bath, change a nappy, repeat.
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