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This is a question Doctors, Nurses, Dentists and Hospitals

Tingtwatter asks: Ever been on the receiving end of some quality health care? Tell us about it

(, Thu 11 Mar 2010, 11:49)
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Advice for surviving childbirth
8 months 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 your newborn slips out like a lubed-up eel. Others will go to the toilet with stomach pain, look to see the damage they’ve caused to the porcelain, and realise they have given birth in the process. This will not happen to many woman though. Some woman 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 tosser, 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 woman 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 you’re 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 fell like they might. This is where you can offer a few words of support. Do not shout ‘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’.
(, Fri 12 Mar 2010, 11:12, closed)
Been on the wrong end of the bed twice.. I think it left a lasing mental scar!!!

(I am a father of 4, the last 2 came out through the sunroof, which is a slightly more pleasant experience (well, for the father anyway!!)

Even that 'one every minute' program on the tv brought me out in a cold sweat like some sort of stress disorder!!!
(, Fri 12 Mar 2010, 11:21, closed)
Got the T shirt

Also: do not confuse the midwives by arguing whether childbirth is harder than rock climbing (she thought it wasn't), do not try and cut the cord with your own knife, and don't say "Christ, I'm glad I'm not the one doing that".

I wept buckets, the big hard bastard that I am. LittleScars yelled once, and then gummed my finger with manic enthusiasm.
(, Fri 12 Mar 2010, 11:27, closed)
Take plenty of spare change. Those bastards in the car park WILL clamp your car for going 15mins over the time on the ticket even if you turn up in full scrubs and face mask to ask them not to.

Might also be worth either getting a taxi home, or calling someone to come and get you as when you're that mentally buggered your mind is not on the job of driving.

I pulled the car door to and proceeded to drive 25 miles home with the door open and the interior light on.

If you get tired and decided to have little lie down, tell the midwives where you're going to do it as you'll have switched your mobile phone off and sooner or later you'll be wanted back on the scene.

84 hours of labour... approx 10 hours sleep.
(, Fri 12 Mar 2010, 11:41, closed)
Oh, the memories :)
(, Fri 12 Mar 2010, 11:42, closed)
All noted...
First one for both us due in October. I'll be 43, the Mrs will be 38. Bricking myself.
(, Fri 12 Mar 2010, 12:42, closed)
Was only a year ago, but I couldn't remember half of this. Forgot I cut the cord, the squid ref brought it all back. Pretty much had the same experience as this, but did it at home. Still haven't got round to getting the stains off of the bed frame. Oh, cleaning the birthing pool out the day after was fun too!
(, Fri 12 Mar 2010, 13:42, closed)
This is half the problem.......
I'm guessing I'm going to make some more enemies here and this reply not specifically directed at the poster, but .....Let's face it, men don't give birth...women do.
Using a bowling ball and sphincter as an analogy is just plain wrong. You poo out your arse it's designed for it, generally poo is much smaller than a human infant. Vagina and associated canal is specifically for childbirth.
It's a process that has been going on for millions of years.
In order for women to get on with their lives, (as they have done for millions of years) men need to stop all this sooking and feeling sorry for them ,love them , yes, but this constant pandering just because they are carrying a child is crap. Now, I'm not suggesting that your own child is anything less than your whole world, but girls, get a grip. Yes you may be pregnant, yes it is most likely uncomfortable, more often than not , it was your choice to exercise your right to try and make another one of you, the rest of the world need not suffer just because you're a bit hormonal right now.
I don't know the figures, but there would be hundreds of thousands of women giving birth every day, a large proportion of which, would do so without medical assistance, and certainly wouldn't have some poor bastard by their side catering to their every whine and whim.
All I am trying to say is "girls, you have it pretty good compared to most, stop treating your men as if they owe you just because you did something that comes naturally". Just be the best mother you can be, let him be the best father he can be.
For the record, I have 4 kids, 1 emergency C section, 2 planned C section (1 epidural, yes was present while they sliced my wife and pulled out kid), and 1 natural, I was there for all of them, and also am guilty of all of the sins of the above rant,that's why I speak out now.
Now I'll just wait for the acid replies.
(, Sat 13 Mar 2010, 5:22, closed)
excellent advice there sir
*passes cigar*
(, Sun 14 Mar 2010, 22:45, closed)
Bless ya, that's lovely that is.
Best get the missus to teach your kid English though.
(, Tue 16 Mar 2010, 8:29, closed)

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