Advice for Surviving Childbirth

17 Jul

Just over a year ago, my partner gave birth to our first child. Neither of us were truly prepared for the experience, it’s both a beautiful and disgusting thing at the same time. I feel I should write down my tips for survival for any fathers-to-be, who don’t know first-hand what really goes on:

– Labour is boring. Very boring. Some women are lucky; they feel a slight twinge, push, and the newborn slips out like a lubed-up eel.  This will not happen to many women though. Some women can be in labour for up to 4 days. If you’re one of the lucky ones, like me, labour may last about 13 hours. However, be prepared to sit and wait for what seems like an eternity. Be prepared to watch your partner go through pain like no other, whilst you sit there helpless, offering meaningless words of comfort. Men, think. If you had a bowling ball making its way out of your sphincter, would the words ‘You’re doing really well’ make the experience any easier, or the pain more bearable? Of course not. My advice to you is to (try and) stay calm, sit still, and not to say anything. This all goes out the window however, if your partner demands you speak to her. This brings me onto my next point…

– Whatever she wants you to do, make sure you do it. The whole childbirth experience will be made a lot easier if you listen you partner. If she wants you to rub her back, rub it; even if she has got sick coming out the side of her mouth, that she gently covers your face in every time she speaks and/or breaths. Don’t fuss over her though – they’ll be hell to pay. I found taking a packet of cigarettes helped my experience somewhat. When the pain got to much, I simply nipped outside for a quick fag until I was felt able to return to the firing line. Once you’ve calmed yourself, return to the delivery room, wash your hands, and continue to remain silent. If your partner calls you a wanker, smile and say ‘I know I am darling’. Do not quip, ‘I will be for a few weeks, won’t I?’

– If you don’t like blood, try not to be brave and watch the midwife insert any tubes into your partners arm. You will feel lightheaded. On the upside, it isn’t your own blood. On the downside, it gets a lot worse than this. On a similar note, do help your partner to the toilet if she needs it. Don’t, whatever you do, look into it once she’s finished.

– If you can, make sure you eat before you leave your home and take food to the hospital with you. Both of you will need energy for this experience. Sandwiches and fruit are the easiest options here, it’s probably not best have a curry beforehand.

– Listen to the midwives. I was lucky; I had 3 fantastic women around me who were reassuring and calm throughout. The midwife will know what she is doing – she does it every day. Don’t question why she is fisting your partner, even if you mean it as a joke. Don’t say ‘can I have a go’ and don’t ask you partner if ‘it feels nice’ or ‘can I try that once you’ve recovered?’. The women will gang up on you and make the experience even more difficult. Don’t panic if you and your partner are left alone for a while. If it wasn’t safe, the midwife would remain with you throughout. You need time to talk and be shouted at, alone. One last thing, don’t ask ‘Is it nearly there yet’ after just 3 hours of labour. Oh, and when she says, ‘You are 3cm dilated’ don’t ask what the equivalent in inches is. Listen to that advice and it should be enough to get you on the good side of your midwives. You need them; remember that.

– Gas and air is your friend. Help your partner hold the device and watch as she transforms from a raging beast, into a docile little burrowing creature that wants patting and stroking. I found the gas and air also helped me deal with the situation. I was spaced out, but in a good way. Use this to your advantage. You can now get away with your ‘funny’ comments. Like all good things though, do not have to much. It is not funny to ask the Chinese midwife if you can have some noodles. If you feel you are taking a little to much gas and air, return the device to your partner, so she can continue to enjoy the benefits. Apparently, when removing items from a bag and placing them on a shelf, you can look like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever to your drugged up partner.

– For most of the labour process, you should get through on the above. However, when it gets down the real nitty gritty, you’re going to have to be a lot braver. Luckily for me, my partner didn’t need a caesarean, an epidural or any other pain relief – so I can’t advise on that. What I can tell you is nothing prepares you for the next bit; the big push. Take your partner by the hand and let her squeeze the life out of it. Your fingers shouldn’t break even if they feel like they might. This is where you can offer a few words of support. Do not shout ‘Geronimo!’,  ‘Push like you’ve never pushed before’ or ‘I know it hurts but you’re nearly there’. Instead, help your partner concentrate on her breathing, and even count down from one to three, so you are both braced for every push.

– Don’t look down. Whatever you do, just don’t. It’s not worth ruining your sexual appetite over. When the midwife says she can see the head and asks if you want a look; it isn’t worth going right down for a full on up-skirt view. You’re better off peering over from above, and seeing you’re baby’s head appear as if by magic. If you are tempted to venture south, they’ll be both blood and shit. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Remember to keep calm – by this time your body will be emotionally and physically drained, but the euphoric event should be enough to see you over the final hurdle. Your partner will also be tired.

– All going well, your baby should be delivered into the hands of the midwife, and your partner will lay back, exhausted but happy. Feel free to cry. It’s natural. Your baby will have blood on it, but you’ll hardly notice. Look at the tiny feet and hands. Look into your baby’s eyes and watch how it instantly follows what you do. Hold your partner and congratulate her on the magnificent job she’s done. Hold your baby for the first time and feel a feeling which words can truly not describe. If you want to, you can cut the cord. The only advice I can give here is that it feels a bit like squid.

– The worst is done. All being well, you can help the midwife dress your baby. One last tip, do not turn and face your partner during this process. You will see a stingray like creature being pulled from her. This apparently is the placenta. If you do make the mistake of catching a glimpse of this creature, merely look your partner in the eyes, mouth ‘I love you’ and return to your baby.

That should be it. Of course they’ll be a day or two of recuperation. Try and get rest whilst you can, and remember to visit your partner and new baby in hospital. Take a present for both; you’ll get stick if you don’t . Finally, enjoy it. Enjoy everything about the experience. You’ll look back afterwards and say, ‘that was easy’.

PS – Remember to take lots of change for the hospital car park. Robbing bastards.

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