1. Clothes – Wear Layers! Take it from me it gets hot in those pokey labour rooms and it gets hot quick! I was unfortunate enough to be wearing a wool jumper with no t-shirt underneath and apparently it is frowned upon if you are found bare chested when the birthing team walks in, especially if your partner hasn’t even got on to the bed yet. If your partner is having a water birth you may be able to cool yourself with the water from the pool but I wouldn’t recommend doing this during the final stages, the water is not at its best.
2. List all the great reasons about having a baby – this is essential for when the tough gets going, all kinds of profanities will be flying your way and even questions about why you even want a baby will be raised. You need to be on hand with supportive comments and reminders about all the great things that parenthood has in store for you. When I say supportive comments, chanting ‘YOU CAN DO IT’ is unlikely to improve the situation.
3. Music – A lot of hospitals/ birth centres will allow you to play music in the background during the birth to keep a nice calm environment. Make sure you have a pre-organised play list that is appropriate for the situation as if you end up using your work-out music it could set a very different tone. Would you want your baby being pushed out to The Prodigy – Firestarter?
4. Food and Drink – Depending on the hospital/ birth centre you may or may not be able to bring your own food in during the labour. It’s worth checking beforehand and even if your partner isn’t allowed food during the birth [due to pain relief] you will need your energy. These things can go on for hours even days, an energy drink here and a chocolate bar there will help keep you going. I wouldn’t suggest bringing a three course meal but quick snacks are a winner. You may even be able to sneak your partner the odd jelly bean!
5. Get to know the staff – be friendly and introduce yourself to the staff that will be working whilst your partner is giving birth. If it is a particularly long labour you could go through several shift changes. Also bear in mind that during the labour unexpected things may happen and you are more than likely going to be emotionally charged, the staff around are trained to deal with all situations and they deserve to be spoken to as you would want to be spoken to. The staff are likely to be a lot more lenient to your requirements if you are friendly.
6. Protection – Depending on your partners temperament I would suggest taking along some protection as things can get a bit hairy. If you have a Dog Trainer suit or a leather glove used for training birds of prey I would recommend taking it along, if not an oven glove will help. Try to persuade your partner to cut her nails before the big day and maybe wear a gum shield during the labour. If you have hair that is of grabble length then cut it and if you have any visible piercings take them out. You could end up with half an ear as a result of a purposeful swipe.
7. Tissues – Apart from the obvious reason being you will need tissues as you and your partner are likely to be very emotional when you first see your new arrival[s]. The other reason is if you become almost hysterical like I did then it’s a good idea to have a tissue to hand. If as a result of the sudden rush of emotion you realise you have propelled snot over a nurse, I would suggest you try passing it off as piece of flying shrapnel from the umbilical cord – not guaranteed to work.
8. Camera – You must not forget the camera and more importantly make sure it’s charged. There is nothing worse than going to take the very first photo of your new arrival[s] only to find out you forgot to charge the camera. If you have forgotten, then please refer to point 6 about protective clothing – you will need it! Get as many photos of the birth as you can although ask your partners permission first as to what level of detail she is comfortable with. The whole thing becomes a bit of a blur and it’s great to be able to piece it together and look back over it once it’s all calmed down.
9. Be Open Minded – I think this is the most important point as you and your partner will probably have a birth plan or an idea of how you want the birth to go but it doesn’t always go to plan. The staff may offer you alternatives that you hadn’t considered before and its always worth listening to these as they do this every day and have experienced all types of complicated situations. You may have also discussed pain relief with your partner and what her preferences are, if so be sure to discuss the ‘what if’s’. As she may change her mind if the birth becomes more difficult than expected. You may even face such riddles as ‘I know I told you I didn’t want pain relief and to persuade me not to have it and that I also told you I would say this and not to give in to me, but I WANT IT!’
10. Enjoy it! – Although at times it will not feel enjoyable and you may feel like a rabbit in headlights, but YOU are part of the birth as well, it’s an experience to be shared so get involved! You may not be doing the pushing or going through the pain but your partner will be relying on your involvement and support to get her through. Even if your partner ends up going in for an emergency C-section keep reminding yourself and your partner that you are minutes away from seeing the reluctant new arrival. All the hard work is nearly over and everything will be forgotten when you see your little ones face for the first time.
Although my ten tips are light hearted and not supported by any medical authority I hope that in all seriousness you can take something away from this that will help on the big day!