So here you are, it’s been heading for you like a steam train since the conception! To get you prepared and help get you through childbirth, I have put together a guide for Dads.
When you first realize your other half is pregnant, the birth actually seems far away. The time moves slowly because you can’t wait for the scans, and make sure they are healthy to announce the pregnancy to friends and family.
Then you get to 30 weeks, and BAM, in an instant, you are in the hospital ready to rock and roll. Where did those 7-10 weeks go!
Childbirth Tips – How I Got My Experience
Let me tell you some facts about my son’s childbirth:
- It lasted 72 hours.
- I slept for 15 minutes.
- My wife did not sleep.
- I had a cold.
It wasn’t the best of births, to say the least! I am not sure, to this day, what kept us going for 72 hours without sleep. To think of the energy she must have used, and it must have left her absolutely shattered!
That is the main reason I never mocked her as I helped to lift her battered, swollen body into a warm bath when the birth was over. It was also the reason I never mocked her as I wheeled her in to in the Hospital Cafe with a full bag of urine leaning on her arm.
Oh, wait…I actually did mock her for that.
Anyway, I digress, the last 6 hours were the most painful for her, and the last hour was the most distressing.
The Distressing Last Hour
Baby’s heart rate dropping, wife feet swelling, pain relief failing, and I broke my headphones!
Then we are told, ‘he is stuck; we need to get you to the theatre.’
So I scrub up and do my best to look like George Clooney before heading into the theatre where a gaggle of Doctors surrounds my wife (Is that the collective noun?).
As time goes by, the baby’s heart rate drops significantly with every contraction. His shoulder is stuck.
‘McRoberts,’ they shout as two people grab hold of my wife’s legs and ram them back towards her head. Forceps go in, but no baby yet!
They shout it again, the legs get pushed back, and my wife’s face looks a mess! There is snot everywhere!
The baby is born!
He spent about 4 seconds on my wife’s stomach before being rushed away, leaving my head spinning and my wife as high as someone at Woodstock.
It was a few minutes….which felt like a few hours before I heard the cry!
After 8 days in intensive care, he was released, and we took him home.
They are not all like that, by the way. Some are much better, and some are much worse. I am just grateful it had a very positive outcome.
How Long Can Childbirth Last?
How long is a piece of string?
Prepare for anything.
My wife took 3 days to give birth to my son. 8 days later, a friend did it all within the hour.
Who knows…..but as long as you are prepared, you will be fine.
Your Job – What You Need To Be Doing During Childbirth
Let’s face it, childbirth is tough for us men, but we still have the easiest part to play.
Stay cool – you are the rock.
Your partner will need you to be the man, she will need you to be strong, and she will look to you for reassurance.
Even if you have no clue what you are doing, and this is also new for you, look in control. Your energy needs to portray confidence that all is still cool.
Be a Jack of All Trades
For most of the labor, you will be a general dogsbody.
Can you get my [INSERT RANDOM ITEM] out of the bag, please?
Where is the [INSERT RANDOM ITEM]?
Ask the midwife for advice, if you can, without your partner hearing.
Confidence could be shattered if you ask a stupid question in front of her!
Out of the 3 days of labor, I am pretty sure I spent at least 80% of the time entertaining her. Laughter is the best (natural) medicine.
75% of that entertainment was mocking her insane ramblings due to the painkillers she took during childbirth! It worked, though.
Don’t be bullied
Just because you are not going through the pain, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on helping or being part of it, just because the midwife tells you.
It is a HUGE life experience for you.
I have heard stories about midwives telling the partners to ‘sit down in the corner and keep quiet.’
No chance, this is my life experience, and I am getting involved.
Take Photographs and Videos
Your partner will hate you for doing it during the birthing process, and you are likely to be verbally abused!
Even if she says no, sneak some in. This is a big moment in life, and she may want to look back on it. I have videos of my wife swearing at me during the pain of multiple contractions! Then when I showed her, she was disappointed that I did not record more!
What You Can Expect When Your Wife Is In Childbirth Mode
Ah man, you have no idea!
Literally, anything can happen.
Childbirth can take you from waddling around a hospital, bored senseless, to clearing up sick because she thinks her waters have broken and begins panicking! Then a hospital worker enters the room ‘Can I get you anything to eat’….now really isn’t a good time! This all happened within 30 seconds.
Throughout the whole 72 hours of childbirth, I managed about 15 minutes of sleep. Something inside keeps you going!
Don’t even think about sleep.
Many TV shows or movies portray a woman in childbirth to be a complete she-Devil. Maybe I got lucky, or maybe she was just too high to give me any abuse. The most aggressive she got was when she was too hot and demanded to be cooled down.
I poured some water on her head.
What Type Of Birth Will It Be?
I am going to run down the basics of a natural birth v a cesarean.
Your intentions may be for one or the other, but you have to keep an open mind!
This is a classic birth. The baby starts in the womb and ends up squeezing out of a place you hold dear in your heart, then you both start crying. The baby is in shock, and you are mourning the destruction.
There are a large number of phrases that you need to be aware of for natural birthing but let’s stick to the most common:
Common Terms For a Dad To Know For a Natural Birth
Meaning: The baby is presenting feet first instead of the head.
Translation: This is gonna hurt, worse than normal.
Meaning: If you look in-between her legs, you can see the baby’s head.
Translation: You can look, but don’t laugh.
Meaning: The size that her cervix has increased to let the baby out.
Translation: No real translation, 10cm is called ‘Full dilation’.
Meaning: An incision the Doctor made to wider the ‘exit.’
Translation: They cut between the vagina and anus to make the hole bigger. I call this a vaganus.
Meaning: An instrument used to assist the delivery.
Translation: They are gonna grab your baby’s head and yank it out.
This can either be booked in before childbirth, or your partner may be rushed away for an emergency cesarean if something unforeseen was to happen during childbirth.
A cesarean is where your partner is taken to the theatre, numbed from the waist down, cut open, and out pops a baby.
Because they have to cut through stomach muscles, you will need to offer your partner a lot of help and support for 6-8 weeks after the operation.
In the event of a pre-booked operation, you will be able to attend the theatre with her. If it is an emergency, they like to keep you out of the theatre.
Seriously, how nerve wracking is that?
Stages of Childbirth
Throughout the entire stage, the midwife will be checking ‘dilation.’
What is dilation? What is checked?
During childbirth, your baby’s head has to squeeze through the cervix (The lower part of the Uterus). A woman’s body will release hormones to open the cervix in preparation for the build-up to childbirth.
Dilation is how wide the cervix is.
The midwife or Doctor will perform their check and make a note.
They are keen for your partner to become ‘fully dilated,’ where the cervix is 10 cm in diameter.
It is then that the baby is loaded up like a cannonball, ready to be fired out.
This is where your partner’s muscles are tensing up and releasing to squeeze the baby out. They are pretty strong, so I hear!
2. Waters Breaking
This is the release of the amniotic fluid from the womb.
It is getting serious now!
The final countdown has begun.
When the fluid has been released, your baby is much more susceptible to infections, which is why they are keen to get things moving when the waters break.
3. Fully Dilated – 10 CM
Boom – the journey through the birth canal is here!
Childbirth Pain Relief
There are several things you can do to help your partner through childbirth.
Not all of them have to include drugs, although they are the most effective!
Some folks will want to avoid drugs for pain relief because they want a totally natural birth.
My wife was one of those people.
Until she felt the pain, then she turned into a ‘GIVE ME SOME DRUGS‘ type of person.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
You can buy your own TENS machine. They are good for birthing pains and other muscle pains to use them after for your bad back!
Birthing Exercise Ball
These are basically the same as a generic exercise ball. Make sure you get one that is strong enough to hold the weight of a mother expecting a child!
You do not want to be responsible if the thing breaks. Anti-burst is the way to go!
You can learn some massage techniques that will help to ease the pain of childbirth.
Just bear in mind that if you do a fantastic job, she will know how good you are and will want more massages in the future.
If you are not cool with that, practice being ‘OK’ and massage to relieve pain!
Common Drugs for Pain Relief During Childbirth
Like I mentioned above, some want it natural, then opt for drugs! So what kind of drugs are on offer to the glowing mother to be?
1. Gas and Air (Nitrous Oxide and Oxygen)
This is very common and is administered through a face mask or tube.
Remember to get her to take a breath from it as soon as the contractions start. It can take a few seconds to work.
Gas and Air does induce some crazy talk – seriously. This had my wife making up a song about Bananas, it wasn’t a great song, but I knocked the score up to make her feel better.
Strong pain reliever injected into the buttocks.
The pain relief lasts from 2 to 4 hours. It can make them feel sick and lethargic, and it is not available too close to the end of the birth because it can induce respiratory depression for the kid at birth.
This takes away feeling from the waist down.
What Happens After The Baby Is Born?
First, they need to get the placenta out, which is a bit like giving birth all over again, but a bit easier. Most of the time, this will happen naturally, but they sometimes have to give a small injection to help it out.
If everything has gone well, the baby will be checked over, and you will need to answer a few questions….regarding feeding, etc.
As soon as your baby has been seen feeding and has been to the toilet a few times, it is time to check out and go home!
The childbirth journey has ended, and your journey as a Dad begins.
Common Terms For a Dad To Know After The Birth
Meaning: A green discharge from the baby’s bowels.
Translation: Your baby has had its first dump. This can cause issues if it happened in the womb and will be treated with antibiotics.
Meaning: A white discharge from the breasts at the start of milking.
Translation: This stuff comes from your other half’s breast before the milk. It has all the things your newborn will need for a few hours, at least.
Childbirth is both extremely rewarding and extremely tense in the same measure.
When it is all over, and assuming it has gone well, you are given this child, which is now yours to look after and protect.
Almost immediately your aspirations change.
When I speak with expectant Fathers, their primary concern is the lack of sleep they will get during childbirth and during the first few months of being parents.
I can honestly say this will not be anywhere near as bad as you are expecting.
The fun takes away the tiredness! Fun and beer.
If you are due to go through childbirth soon, I wish you good luck and good health!