Dad to be: What a dad needs to know about labour

What a dad needs to know about labour

Dad to be: What a dad needs to know about labour

You and your wife have arrived at the third trimester and you are beginning to admire that bump. On the other hand, the due date is now very much visible and you are beginning to count the days to that crossed one on the calendar. What concerns you is the labor? Have you been getting nightmares of missing it all and not being with your wife when she needs you the most?

First of all, the dad-to-be has to remain calm! It is absolutely necessary for you to be calm and collected in the time till your wife goes into labor and the best way to do so is to keep yourself informed. Read up all there is to know about labor and discuss it with your wife.

What is labor? Labor is the sequence of contractions leading to the birth of the baby.

What happens before labor starts? Your wife may feel the following signs, but she may feel unsure of whether she is really in labor or not. This may go on for hours or days, as you wait for clarity regarding the labor. Here’s what she is probably feeling:

  • Niggling contractions that come and go
  • Urge to the use the toilet and empty the bowels
  • Backache
  • Moodiness
  • Loose motions

How to comfort your wife in the waiting time?

First the bump, then the anticipation, and now these physical signs of labor – you bet your wife is going to be uncomfortable and that’s why, snappy and moody. Here’s what you can do while you play the waiting game with her:

  • Help her soak herself in a warm bathtub, or take a shower. Maybe, give her warm bath if possible.
  • Watch her favorite feel good movie with her.
  • Spend time with her, chatting, talking, cuddling, whatever makes her feel better.
  • If she is up for it, take a nice walk around your home.
  • Offer her some of her favourite snacks or meal

Early Labor

What’s happening in your wife’s body? This is the beginning of the labor and in this stage, you are likely to be with her at home. She may feel regular contractions lasting about 30 seconds every 5-10 minutes. She is also probably really excited of the time finally coming, but anxious about the labor.

During the early phase of labor, you wife is likely to talk to you during the labor, ask to hold your hand and smile in relief between contractions.

What to do when your wife is in labor?

When your wife is in labor, help her get more comfortable using these tips:

  • Remember that an upright position helps the labor progress and aids in smoother delivery of the baby. Remind her the same.
  • Try to keep her comfortable in an upright position by offering her a hot water bottle or massaging her back.
  • Encourage her to use her breathing techniques.
  • Offer her some protein rich snacks and drinks.

Active Labor

What is going on in your wife’s body? By now, your wife is in a lot of pain with the contractions coming more frequently and in with stronger intensity and for a longer time. This is because the cervix is now dilating and the uterus is clenching during each contraction. Your wife’s waters are likely to break.

By now the contractions are lasting for 50-60 seconds every 3-4 minutes.

What will wife do at this stage? She is probably focusing on getting as comfortable as possible to distract herself from the pain. She may not be able to talk coherently, and may stop talking coherently when the contractions start. She may become dreamy and spaced out at the end of the contraction.

What to do? This might be the best time to take her to the doctor/maternity hospital. Call your doctor in advance so the team is ready and prepared for your arrival. The doctor will examine your wife to check for the dilation and may ask you for the general idea of the frequency and duration of the contractions before reaching the hospital, the time when it started and so on.

If you are going to be present in the delivery room, comfort your wife and tell her to look forward to the baby. She may not want to look at you, or worse, she may scream and abuse you. Don’t take it personally, she is only channelizing her pain.

Transition to Second Stage of Labor

What’s going on in your wife’s body? This is an extremely exhausting phase for your wife, but closer to the baby’s arrival. It is likely to last upto an hour for the first baby, and a few minutes for your second baby.

If the waters have not broken yet, there are likely to break now. The contractions will be stronger, longer and more frequent. Your wife is likely to feel the need to push during the contractions. Remind her to only push as the contraction starts and relax when as the pain descends. Repeat whatever the doctor says, if you think she has not heard. Don’t ask her any questions, but answer any questions on her behalf. Wipe her face between contractions so that the sweat doesn’t irritate her while she pushes.

Note that she may not want you to be with her during the delivery. She may want to cope with this pain on her own. It’s not personal, it is just a matter of how a person deals with pain.

Second Stage of Labor:

What is happening in your wife’s body? This is the moment you and your wife have been waiting for. This is stage where your wife pushes the baby out of her body. As a result she will face a strong urge to push during the contractions. She is also totally exhausted and feeling a strong burning sensation as the baby’s head emerges.

What will your wife do? She may scream louder with the pain of crowning, and then she may feel really emotional at the birth of the baby, or she may just fall asleep out of exhaustion.

What will the doctor do? The doctor will check the baby’s heartbeat as it takes birth and your wife’s vitals between and during contractions. The doctor will also encourage your wife to push during the contractions. Once the baby is born, the doctors will hand over the baby to the pediatrician for immediate examination and cleaning up.

Third Stage of Labor:

What is happening in your wife’s body? After a short break, the uterus will contract to push the placenta out. The contractions may not as strong as before, therefore your wife may not face as much effort while pushing.

What to do? Encourage your wife for just one final push. Now it’s time to celebrate and finally meet the new arrival!

Take a lot of pictures. If your wife has fallen asleep, let her take rest. Meanwhile, get acquainted with the new baby. Take a lot of pictures.