When it comes to labour and birth, 99.9% of the focus is understandably on the mum-to-be. After all, she is the one doing the majority of the hard graft during the childbirth process. However, it’s worthwhile giving the tiniest bit of consideration to the birth partner who will be right by her side. They are a vital, yet often over-looked, cog of the labour machine. Whether that’s boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, parent, sibling, best friend or Janine from no. 12 who takes in your online deliveries when you’re out, this person will have a key role in proceedings.
From the first contraction through to baby arriving safely into the world, the birth partner is there to provide both practical and emotional support during labour.
As such, the birth partner wears many different hats. They’re the planner, the implementer, the cheerleader, the translator, the enforcer, the hand-holder and the back massager.
As a two-time, birth partnering veteran myself, there’s a fair bit I’ve learnt – and way too much I’ve seen – along the way. So, to be the ideal birth partner you need to:
Do your research and know your stuff. Get to know the birthing plan, fill the car up with petrol, figure out where to park, know where to go in the hospital etc.
Try to stay calm. You may be screaming on the inside, but don’t let it show on the outside. Losing your head isn’t going to help the situation.
Be there for her
Your role is to do anything and everything she asks of you. Don’t moan or complain, just crack on and do it with a reassuring smile.
Think about what you say
This isn’t the time for jokes, wisecracks or stories about Steve from Accounting. Stick to encouragement and support. If you don’t know what to say, then keep quiet.
Remember the bags
In the panic that is getting out of the house and to the hospital, make sure you pick up the hospital bags by the front door.
Speaking of hospital bags, let me expand slightly. I use the plural because making up separate bags for each person (you, mum and baby) makes it easier to find what you’re looking for when at the hospital.
Let’s assume that mum and baby’s bags have been packed, so we can forget about maternity pads, nipple cream and witch hazel, and instead focus on the birth partner’s bag.
You’re unlikely to know how long you’re going to be at the hospital, so it’s best to take everything you think you’ll need just to be on the safe side. This is by no means definitive, but it covers the essentials:
First, you’ll need your mobile phone and charger. That probably goes without saying in this day and age, but it’s worth spelling it out because without it, how are you going to make those late night phone calls to close family, post the obligatory ‘welcome to the world’ update on Facebook or get an ‘in labour selfie’?
Whilst we’re on the topic of photos, and assuming it’s what has been agreed with the mum-to-be, you’re likely to be the unofficial photographer and videographer capturing the wondrous experience. For most, the aforementioned camera on the phone will do, but there might be some other kit like a digital camera, a camcorder or an action cam you need to remember.
Next, you’ll need money. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to quickly dart off to the shops to buy something that’s been forgotten or purchase a much-needed coffee when the 36th hour of labour hits. However, don’t just bring a card. Make sure you have plenty of spare change, particularly when it comes to paying at the machine for the hospital car park.
Depending on the hospital and on the situation, you may end up staying the night. Take a spare pair of clothes (hoodie, t-shirt, trousers, socks and boxers) and your own toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, contact lenses etc.) just in case they’re needed. As you’re likely to be sleeping in an uncomfortable chair, a travel pillow and blanket are also useful additions.
Entertainment is also a good idea, although make sure it isn’t intrusive. Your primary role is one of support, but there’s also a lot of downtime and hanging around. It might be a book, a newspaper or a crossword, or alternatively something on your phone like a game, music or TV shows. If it’s the latter, remember your headphones and keep in mind that hospitals are notorious Wi-Fi black spots, so download everything in advance.
Lastly, you’ll want to pack some food and drink. I’m not talking about a full-on picnic or a three-course meal, but just a little something you can quietly tuck into if needed. You’re unlikely to be provided with anything by the hospital and on-site cafes are only open at certain hours, so it’s best to bring something with you.
Original article: https://www.babycentre.co.uk/blog/first_timers/hospital-bags-for-dads/