Many thanks to @muckyshroom for this little gem.
Get involved in the birth experience, but not too much
I wrote a post last month which included a description of our first ante natal class. To cut a long story short, at the start of the meeting the stunningly attractive midwife (by now I would have shagged a lamppost) wanted to go round the room to get introductions. The expectant mums gave their names, a brief background, their hopes for the future and their concerns about birth and early motherhood. The men in the room were not asked to contribute.
This pretty much summed up my experience of pregnancy.
I suspect any dads reading this will also have experienced the 'foreskin at a Jewish wedding' feeling during scans. Was I expected to be there? yes! Did the medical staff actively include me in the process? no!
At HD we don't want this situation to continue. So this post is specifically for all the dads out there who are about to enter the birthing room with no information other than what their partner has given them. And we all know how selective that can be! Mrs Hapless only informs me about 1 in every 8 pairs of boots she buys. So you have to assume this ratio applies to all partner generated information. Your partner will tell you that 'it was all in the booklet'. That's just cunning female trickery as she knows full well you don't read instructions.
So here we go. HDs top tips for surviving labour:
- Whatever you do, don't have your baby at the Heath Hospital in Cardiff. It would be much less stressful to give birth in a crack den on an Albanian housing project. It's a nicer environment and there'll be less chance of developing infection.
- At some point prior to the birth, observe your partner having a poo. Seeing this in the comfort of your own home will prepare you for the inevitable evacuation when pushing.
- Do not under any circumstances attempt humour. Medical staff have heard all your jokes before, however well constructed, and they have no sense of humour. When my first child was born I told my wife he had 11 fingers like the rest of her family. This resulted in a flurry of counting.
- Before the birth your partner will make you promise certain things. Agree at the time but under no circumstances carry them out. Suggesting quietly that "you said you really didn't want an epidural" will go down like a mug of sick.
- Get some DVD box sets from the library. These days you can't go in to hospital until the baby's head, shoulders and arse are visible. Your partner will be much happier if she knows you have something to do while the contractions get closer together. I got through two series of The West Wing.
- Take several books. On telly, babies fly out like a canon ball. In reality, labour can equate to at least two John Grishams or seven Jeffrey Archers.
- Check the credentials of the medical staff. During my son's birth the clueless midwife handed proceedings over to a student doctor who happened to be passing. It was only afterwards that I considered the possibility that he was in fact an escaped mental patient. Although he did do a fine job.
- Avoid certain phrases during the process. These include "what in the name of Christ is that?" and "nurse, is this normal?". I would also suggest staying away from "hurry up love, the Welsh game is on in an hour".
- Make sure you have input on the birth method. If your partner wants a home birth you will be the one who has to tidy up before everyone arrives, and clean your cream rug afterwards. If you go for a water birth you will see your perfect little baby rise majestically to the service. However, she will be accompanied by blood, urine, placenta and poo. If there is a choice I would suggest a c section. Your partner may feel she has missed out on the experience but it will preserve pelvic floor integrity for when she finally agrees to a bit of sexy time three years later.
- Take out a bank loan. People tell you having kids is expensive. To this day the most I have spent was at the hospital. A cot and pram might seem steep but believe me it is nothing compared to the cost of a week's hospital parking, coffee and pasties the price of gold.
So there you have it. HDs top tips for surviving labour, for dads.
One final tip. Under no circumstances film the event. It might seem a good idea at the time but where exactly are you planning to show the recording? No one else will be able to see it without vomiting and you and your partner will spend the rest of your life trying to block the experience out of your mind.