Guys get a bad rap for being inarticulate when it comes to parenting. Thanks to traditional gender roles and stereotyping, we’re often viewed as a breadwinner who spends all our free time and thoughts on work and are nothing more than bumbling idiots when it comes to anything domesticated.
This is especially true when it comes to parenting. One of the easiest ways for you and your partner to break free from this mentality is to get involved in the decision making right away.
It goes without saying, when it’s time for baby to be born, your partner is going to be more preoccupied with pushing a tiny human out than having to explain to the doctor, nurses, and midwives what her birthing plan is.
Your nerves and adrenaline are going to be pumping like crazy, too, but it’s your job to keep your head on a swivel long enough to make sure your partner gets to the hospital, checked in, and has everything she needs to make the birth go as smooth as possible.
Developing a Birth Plan
Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, you and your partner are going to discuss every aspect of delivery; you’ll interview doctors, decide whether or not she wants an epidural, who else will be in the room, etc.
As mentioned previously, your mind is going to be in overdrive when your partner finally goes into labor. Will you remember everything you discussed? Chances are, you probably won’t need to remember everything, but if there are complications, will you recall what she wanted?
To alleviate birth day amnesia, many expecting parents develop a birth plan – a written document which outlines what you and your partner expect during labor and delivery. Many hospitals and birthing centers offer birthing plan forms to help you, but if you’re looking to make your own, here are some things it should contain:
- Does your partner have, or did she develop, and medical issues which may affect the pregnancy or birth?
- What do you want to do if your normal doctor isn’t available during labor?
- What kind of birth are you planning? (natural, water, etc.)
- Besides yourselves, will anyone else be in the room during delivery?
- Does your partner want to stand up, lie down, or walk around during labor?
- What are your thoughts on inducing labor?
- Does your partner want to have any pain medications (if so, which?)
- How do you feel about forceps or vacuum assistance during delivery?
- Do you want to cut the umbilical cord or have the medical professionals do it?
- What do you need to do if your partner needs a C-section?
- Does your partner want to breastfeed?
- Will you or the medical staff give the baby his first bath?
- If you’re having a boy, do you want him circumcised?
These are just a few of the things to consider when writing up your birthing plan. It’s also extremely important to understand that this is just a plan and depending on the circumstances of the birth, you may or may not be able to follow it.
While a lot of emphasis will be put on planning for what happens inside the hospital and after you return home with baby, don’t forget to plan for the trip to and from the hospital. It doesn’t take a lot of work, but it can be easily overshadowed.
If you plan on driving your partner to the hospital:
- Remember to keep enough gas in your tank – you never know when baby will decide to come.
- Use a reliable vehicle. Nothing will create more panic than if your car won’t start or breaks down on the way to the hospital.
- Take some practice trips to and from the hospital or birthing center to make sure you know the way.
- Understand what traffic is like on your route during the high and low congestion times.
- Sometime during the third trimester, install your baby’s car seat and keep your hospital go-bag packed in the car. Hospital Go-Bag Checklist
- Have a back-up driver lined up, like a neighbor or family member who lives nearby, just in case your partner goes into labor while you’re stuck in traffic or too far away.
If you’re unable to drive your partner to the hospital, there are alternatives:
- Call a taxi
If you need to take a cab or other ride sharing service, it’s important to call ahead and see how long it typically would take a driver to get to your home. Ask what the fare would be and whether or not the driver accepts credit cards. Keep the taxi company’s phone number and enough cash to cover the fare somewhere you can access it quickly. If you’re taking the cab home from the hospital, make sure you pack your car seat.
- Have a friend drive
If a friend or relative is the best option for you and your partner to travel, make sure they’re responsible, a safe driver, live nearby, will pick up their phone when called, and understands you may need to go in the middle of the night.
- Public transportation
If you need to take public transportation to the hospital, make sure you have a good understanding of its schedule, routes, and how reliable it is. Keeping exact change readily available for the fare is also important.
- Take an Ambulance
Taking an ambulance is also an option, but will add a significant amount to your final bill. This is the best option if your partner is experiencing complications with labor or it’s unsafe to take another mode of transportation. Call 911 to get an ambulance.
Recognizing the Signs of Labor
Your partner is going to be experiencing a multitude of different symptoms of varying intensity throughout her entire pregnancy. To better understand what she’s feeling at any given week, we suggest taking a look at our week-by-week guides for the first, second, and third trimesters.
At the very end, however, she’s going to experience something that’ll make the last nine months of pain and discomfort completely worth it – the birth of your child. While every pregnancy is unlike any other, some things are always the same, like the indicators that she’s going into labor:
Water breaking – When it’s said that a woman’s water breaks, what’s really happening is the amniotic sac, a fluid filled membrane which has housed and protected your child over the last nine months, ruptures. Sometimes this results is a rapid gush of amniotic fluid which is a clear indication of labor. Other times, the fluid only trickles from your partner, making it more difficult to determine if it’s amniotic fluid or urine.
Painful Contractions – All throughout the pregnancy, your partner will experience little painless contractions called Braxton Hicks contractions. These short-term contractions are her body’s way of preparing itself for the real deal. Unfortunately, the contractions she may experience will be much more painful than the teasers she’s experiences prior to going into labor.
Regular Contractions – The aforementioned Braxton Hicks contractions occur throughout the pregnancy, but only for a short time over an extended period of time. Once your partner goes into labor, her body will begin contractions and continue to do them until baby is safely out of her body.
Taking Care of the Paperwork
Just like with any hospital visit, there’s always a lot of paperwork which needs to be completed. Health history, emergency contact information, etc. Thankfully, many hospitals and birthing centers will allow patients to preregister, fill out, and submit most of this paperwork before either you or your partner step foot inside the building for the delivery.
As you can imagine, this not only saves a lot of time on your arrival, but the last think you or your partner will want to think about on the day she goes into labor is where you put your insurance card or what her mother’s phone number is in case there’s an emergency.