Written by: Steven Petter
So, you survived pregnancy! Well done, I bet you’re feeling pretty pleased with yourself and at the same time the worry of what is about to come may be scaring you, well don’t worry its the same for all new dads, the miracle of birth is fast approaching and as those days count down you should be getting prepared
The first and most important rule of being a dad during birth, don’t worry about what might go wrong, you need to be as calm as you can be, enjoy the experience and let the experts do their jobs. The second big rule is, be prepared for everything, from making sure you have credit on your phone to making sure you have petrol in the car, it all needs to be done so you are ready to go at a moments notice. In your partner’s pregnancy guide given to her by the hospital will be the number to ring when she goes into labour, put this number in your phone and make sure it’s easy to find, you will probably call it quite a few times before they actually let you bring her in to hospital. Know your route to hospital too, there’s no point rushing to the car in a panic just to wait ten minutes for the sat nav to take you the long way round, know where it is and know where the entrance to the maternity unit is too.
Once contractions start remember it may be a long time before things really start moving, your natural instinct will be to take her to the hospital straight away but leaving it a while means that you are in the hospital for less time and that the nurses can focus on priorities in the birthing unit.
Cups of tea, a relaxing bath, paracetamol and a cuddle can all help to relieve the pains of contractions, you are officially a deputy nurse and now it’s your job to look after the special lady in your life. Help to time the contractions, the midwife will often give you a set time between contractions before you go to hospital so sit with your partner and time each contraction with them. Finally the time comes when you are on your way to the hospital, you make you way and arrive at the entrance, within minutes your partner is in a bed and you are by her side, this is normally where the reality of it all sinks in and you start to panic but rest assured all is fine and you are with the experts now.
Treat yourself to a coffee and get ready for a tiring few hours, your job is to help your partner relax as much as possible, talk to them, tell them to breathe and give them water when they want it, as the contractions get closer together and the pain gets less bearable help with gas and air and don’t be afraid to call a nurse if you think your partner needs some relief.
Time now for the actual birth, you’re surrounded by nurses and everyone is rushing around looking out for your family, it’s natural to feel a bit useless but you’re not, being there holding your partners hand and helping them to breathe through it makes all the difference. Depending on how easy the birth is will change the experience for you but don’t be afraid to ask questions and keep reassuring your partner that they are doing really well. There may well be a lot of screaming and shouting, just remember, the more effort she puts into screaming the less effort she is putting into pushing when the time is right, mum can get very tired very quickly so try and keep her calm by talking to her and helping her breathe right.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before you hear the first cry, the first of many to come, and the best noise you will ever hear, normally they will give baby straight to mother for an early hold so they can bond, this is also a very important time for you, touch your baby, smile, laugh, cry, whatever feels right just go with the flow, and as soon as you can give baby a cuddle yourself. If it’s the first time you’ve held a baby then you might be a little scared, but don’t worry, you will get it right and if you’re not sure then ask the midwife to show you how to hold baby.
Your doctor can give you more advice about what you can do to support your partner during birth, don’t be afraid to ask and the last and most important rule of being a first time dad, enjoy it!