The Hospital: What to Expect
Many hospitals, especially newer maternity wards, are much more family-friendly than in years passed. More and more hospitals are making accommodations for new dads, such as bigger recovery room beds for both the new mom and dad, or even more comfortable cots so new dads can sleep in the room with his new family.
And more nurses and doctors are getting used to dealing with the expecting dads … but there are still some healthcare professionals who will do and say things that are focused on the mother, not on both of you. Don't take their actions personally; make it clear you will be participating in your child's birth (and most likely they'll adjust to your presence). You are an essential part of the delivery process—not only for your partner but for you baby, too.
Going to the maternity ward to deliver a baby is a lot better than going to the emergency room, fortunately. You'll still have paperwork to fill out, of course, but the chairs and environment are often much more comfortable.
Once your partner is admitted, here's a rundown of what to expect:
- You'll get a room where she can lie down (assuming she isn't ready to give birth right at that moment!). If you're going in for a scheduled C-section, your partner will be prepped for surgery (and you will be able to wait her with her, too).
- Your partner may have a fetal monitor strapped around her belly at this point and soon your room may fill with the sound of your little baby's heartbeat. If you're going in for a planned C-section, your partner will also have an IV fitted.
- Your healthcare provider will check to see how dilated your partner is and will keep checking up on her until she's fully ready.
- Your partner may begin to experience some intense contractions. This is where you can help her with her breathing to manage the pain and be there to support her emotionally with lots of love and attention. (If you're having a planed C-section, you'll need to step away for a few minutes while your partner is moved to the surgical room. You'll be asked to put on scrubs and a sterile mask while your partner receives her epidural is gets situated. Then a nurse will bring you to her and you'll be able to sit with her during your baby's birth.)
- Once your partner is far enough along, she will be moved to the delivery room where she will give birth to your beautiful baby! (If you're having a C-section, you'll stay with your partner throughout the delivery. Then when your baby is born, you'll be able to watch her go through her Apgar tests, cut the chord, and stay with her while your partner's incision is closed. All three of you will be united in a recovery room while your partner's anesthesia wears off (generally, your partner won't be allowed to hold your baby until she can wiggle her toes).