4 Tips To Ease The Stress of Labor & Delivery

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.

Photo credit: Zazzle.com

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

Photo from blog.clarity.com

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.

Credit from bbc.co.uk

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!


About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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10 Responses to 4 Tips To Ease The Stress of Labor & Delivery

  1. Not only take several copies of your birth plan with you, give them out and go over them with the people you plan to have with you so any questions can be dealt with before the big day.

    I actually assigned different “tasks” to people and named someone OTHER than My Guy as an advocate on the off chance something went wrong. It may have been over kill but when I first set up the plan, I was planning a home birth with a midwife. No drugs, no medical intervention would be immediately available outside of the oxygen the midwife carried, and our faith in the response time of 911. Granted the midwife and my mother were both practicing RN’s. And while I made a few adaptions when I delivered in hospital, the basic plan remained the same for all four births.

    The doula is also a great idea, one of the advantages to having a midwife is that she acted like a doula for a lot of the process. We’re still friends with ours. Having her to call when the baby blues hit was lifesaving. Even if I KNEW why I was feeling the way I was, even though My Guy and family were supportive, having her was what I needed. (I wonder what the statistics are for postpartum depression? I only had it after the first and even then it was mild compared to some I know.)

    We also collected cord blood, donating rather than storing it. It’s such an easy process it surprises me more people don’t do it. Of course the options out there have increased tenfold to what I had for my first. I spent almost a month just locating a place. Over a decade ago a lot of hospitals weren’t doing it or if they did, you had to deliver when the Red Cross rep was there. Once I found a place we had to send medical histories and be approved. Then we were sent the collection kit. (In the end the collections at home were easier, with more collected, than the hospital collections, one of which ended up not happening because that wee beastie decided to make his appearance at 4am, LOL)

    Cook and freeze as many meals as you can before hand. The food family and friends bring is wonderful and special but sometimes you really just want that comfort food that you and your guy turn to time and time again.

    I feel like I’m writing books to all these comments, LOL. You know you can pick my brain via email any time 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I love your comments, Raelyn! It’s so funny, I had an entire section of this post on prepping food but I decided it made the post too long and cut it for a different post. I’m sure glad your comment put some of it back in. 🙂


      • I’ve got a whole prep system down, LOL. Definitely deserves its own post because it can be used for other times too. For example, a couple years ago, my father broke his ribs a week before my mother was do to go in for hip surgery. I went up there for about six weeks so Mum wouldn’t have to postpone the surgery. The last two weeks was all about food prep! I staged crock pot meals by bagging the ingredients, cooked casseroles, etc. and stocked their freezer. There are a lot of times I wish I was that coordinated on a regular basis 🙂


  2. Please do post about your husband’s packing list. As of now my daughter’s husband doesn’t think he can be in the delivery room. We are proceeding as if he is going to be able to do it but chances are good even if he changes his mind I will still be in there with them just in case.

    I hadn’t really thought that far ahead about a packing list but now I’m really interested to hear what it might should include.


  3. I second Angela’s request about your husband’s packing list! One of our pre-planning activities was a phone list of immediate family members and a few friends. Then we designated someone to make the calls about baby’s arrival. That way we didn’t feel obligated to reach out to people when we were in recovery mode and enjoying those first few precious days–and we weren’t too upset when we didn’t get cell service in the maternity ward!


  4. I’m so glad these days are in the past. Although I have to admit that my labors were super speedy (5 and 3 hours). 🙂


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