Welcome to Risky Baby Business, the Saturday column about babies and parents. Today we’re going to talk about some tips that can make the birthing process easier, particularly for the new dad.
If you are a high-risk pregnancy, you will most likely be delivering in a hospital. I have friends who are fierce about most things, but you push them through the doors of a hospital and they are likely to pass out in a puddle of stress on the floor. Hopefully neither you or your birthing partner suffer from “hospital anxiety.” If you do, it’s best to get it out in the open long before the birth.
What are some other steps you and your guy can take to minimize the stress associated with delivering a baby. Let’s face it, the majority of men are a little afraid of childbirth, at least the first time. They’ve been told their wife is going to be in pain and they can’t do much but hold her hand and breathe with her. Or so a lot of them think.
A “big picture” guy is a treasure in the delivery room. All a woman can focus on during the birthing process is what’s going on inside her body. But her birthing partner can focus on her, her breathing and what’s going on in the room.
Your childbirth partner needs to be someone who can keep his or her head. A partner who’s gonna crumple at the first sign of pain or screaming or blood is not who you want to be alone with during delivery. You need a birthing warrior, which brings us to our first tip…
If you think your partner’s going crumple, enlist a back-up.
Seriously. Line up your mom, your sister, your BFF. Get yourself a back-up because you want someone to keep things organized while the beautiful chaos of birthing is going on around you. You don’t want someone who’s going to out-scream you or stress you out.
What are some easy “back-up” things you can do in advance that will ease your stress?
Hire a doula
What is a doula? Here’s a great definition from DONA International, one of the oldest, most respected organizations for doula resources:
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
With the amount of post-partum depression I had, I wish I’d known more about doulas providing post-pregnancy support. It might have helped me survive those first 6-8 months with a lot less emotional upheaval.
I don’t know how much doula’s cost but everyone I’ve spoken to who had one raved about the experience and DONA International will tell you everything you ever wanted to know.
Pack the hospital bag(s) wisely
There is a chance that you’ll be running out the door at a fast clip when the baby comes, especially if you’re a first timer or at high-risk for birthing complications. They want you at the hospital, being monitored, much sooner than other new moms. My husband’s packing list was so amazing I’m thinking of making it into its own post. He worked on it for several weeks. However, for general tips about what to pack, click here.
Make a birthing plan
Most obstetricians will provide you with a birthing plan document if you ask them for it. Certainly it will be in your packet of information if you attend a birthing class or take a hospital tour.
Your birthing plan is your way of ensuring that your wishes are carried out, even if you cannot articulate them during the birthing process. They are taken very seriously these days by hospitals.
Note: Remember to have several copies of your birth plan in your hospital bag. Don’t assume your labor and delivery team will have it just because you submitted it with your hospital paperwork.
Items that might be on your birth plan?
- Any food or drug allergies you (and your birth partner) have
- The name of your regular or high risk OB
- Your specific wishes about epidurals, drugs and Cesarean delivery
- Whether you wish to use a birthing ball or have a water birth
- How many people may be in the delivery room with you (and who they are)
- If you need the delivery team to gather cord blood
This last one was extremely important to my husband and I because I have Factor V Leiden, a genetic mutation of the #5 gene that promotes the formation of blood clots.
There are more than 70 diseases and cancers that can now be cured with the use of cord blood, but the thing I really cared about is the research being done on fixing defective genes with the help of cord blood. There is a chance my daughter will inherit Factor V. With the current research, there’s also a chance that it can be fixed.
I’ve suffered so much with Factor V that we decided cord blood was a must-have bit of insurance. We spent my hubby’s entire bonus check on a cord blood plan from PacifiCord. To give you a ballpark for this, we paid for the gathering kit and 20 years of storage in advance and it cost about $3,800. (There are monthly plans that are reasonable if you don’t have this saved up front).
I wanted the delivery team to get as much cord blood as possible. Because of our birthing plan, they knew why this was important and they got DOUBLE the usual amount for us. This is a priceless gift they gave our daughter. If she doesn’t use it, some day she can sell it for a down payment on a house or for college expenses.
For everything you ever wanted to know about birth plans, click here. I’ve provided a link from a Labor & Delivery nurse who blogged about it in great detail.
While I was very happy at the time that I did most of the above, the thing that made me feel the most secure was that my husband and I were in this baby thing as a team. Together we felt as ready as you can ever be to do something you’d never done before.
My honey went to all the appointments, classes and tours with me and read all the same books. He made sure I took a lot of naps in those final weeks, bought me breakfast on the way to our induction appointment at the hospital, and did surveillance on the door while I drank a bottle of Ensure after 12 hours in labor with no food. Having him be my “wingman” during my pregnancy made me feel like I could handle anything.
What are some of the pre-planning tips you’ve heard of or experienced that seemed to help new parents-to-be? I’m considering a whole other post on tips for when baby comes home so all suggestions are welcomed!