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Posted Mar 16 2011 12:00am
Pregnancy Tip: 5 Things Men Should Know Before Their Partner Goes Into Labor

From my experience as a labor and delivery nurse I have found that there are few things that seem to never cross an expecting father's mind before the big day. So to aviod some potential labor & delivery mishaps here are just a few of my tips for soon-to-be dads.

1. You Need to Eat and Drink – A Lot.

This seems obvious, but you wouldn't believe how many men either forget to eat, are too anxious to want to eat, or just fast out of sympathy for their epiduralilized partners who are not allowed to eat. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse that you can do for yourself than go hungry while your partner is in labor. The reason for this is that keeping something in your stomach and staying well hydrated will help protect you against an untimely fainting episode. I don't care if you think that you're not a “fainter” or this will never happen to you. Even the hardiest of men have been known to hit the floor at the sight of their partner bleeding or their baby being delivered. Even I, as a nurse who sees blood every day, get woozy watching my husband get a needle prick. Keep in mind that many hospitals close their food service at night so if your partner is up all night in labor, undoubtedly at some point you are going to be hungry. Be prepared by stocking up on food in your room by bringing with you to the hospital some satisfying snacks such as nuts, sandwiches and fruit. Trust me, you're not going to want to run out to McDonald’s in the middle of the night and risk missing the birth of your baby. Even a half turkey sandwich and a glass of OJ is enough to keep you going for several hours. So, if you don't think you will remember to eat, designate someone around you to remind you.

2. Wear Shoes and Keep Your Camera On Your Person
Scenario: You are sound asleep on the couch while your partner is in labor with an epidural. The nurse suddenly bursts into the room after noticing something wrong on the labor monitor,. Suddenly an emergency button is pushed, people come running into the room and before you know it your partner is being whisked away down the hall for an emergency cesarean section and someone is yelling at you to follow. You will not want to waste moments scrambling for your shoes and camera. If you don't have your shoes on you won't be allowed into the OR and if you don't have your camera you will miss those precious few photos immediately after delivery. So, don't get stuck without your camera and your shoes.

3. Don't Get Hung Up on the Cutting of the Cord
If you don't wan to cut the cord, don't feel bad about it. I can't tell you how many men I have asked whether or not they are planning on cutting the cord and they suddenly look very uncomfortable, look sideways sheepishly at their partners, and say “I'm not really sure”. It's OK if you don't want to cut the cord. The baby goes through a biological process when they are delivered which jump starts their own circulatory-respiratory system. If the cord was never cut it would still eventually stop supplying blood to the baby and the baby will continue to breath on its own. In other words, its not a vital part of bringing a baby into this world. Rather, it is symbolic gesture which is traditional for fathers to take part in. If this doesn't appeal to you the doctor will have no problem snipping the cord for you. It won't make you any less of a father. Furthermore, if you are one of those guys who it does really means a lot to you to cut the cord you need to be aware that there are some circumstances where this may not be possible. For example, if your wife has a caesarean or if your baby has passed meconium (the first stool) before delivery then the doctor will likely cut the cord. If this happens to you, don't get hung up on it. Your baby will not hold it against you. And of course, if want to just "wait and see" thats OK too. I have found that most men, if not all, wind up cutting the cord anyways when the time comes. ** A note about cord cutting: It's really not as bad as it sounds. When the doctor delivers the baby he or she will place a cord clamp on the cord to stop the blood flow. Then the doctor will place another clamp a few inches above this clamp and then in between is where you will be asked to cut. The double clamping prevents injury to the baby, provides a clear indication of where to cut and prevents blood from flowing out once the cord is severed. If you want to see a video to prepare yourself you you can click here .


4. You Need to Make Your Wife Eat To Prevent the Grumps
Does your partner get grumpy when she is hungry? Does she plan on an epidural? If you have answered yes to both of these questions then you need to keep in your car and any other place reachable some satisfying snacks for your partner for before she gets to the hospital. Once a woman has an epidural, she is not allowed to eat or drink anything until after the baby is born. This could mean hours of fasting which often makes women very grumpy. This can potentially be avoided by feeding your wife a meal before she goes into active labor and/or some small but satisfying snacks (ie: peanut butter and crackers) before she get's an epidural. Keep in mind that once you get to the hospital there may not be any time to get the snack in so try to feed her before you arrive or while on the way.
5. Under No Circumstances Do You Sleep or Leave If Your Wife is Laboring In Pain
Don't be that guy who takes a nap or leaves the room while his wife is in labor with pain. Unless it is an emergency you should be awake and by your partner's side as long as she is uncomfortable. In a study done on 500 women it was found that “The continuous presence of a support person reduced the likelihood of medication for pain relief, [forceps or vacuum] vaginal delivery, cesarean delivery, and a 5 minute Apgar score less than 5. Continuous support was also associated with a slight reduction in the length of labour. Six trials evaluated the effects of support on mother's view of the childbirth experience...in each trial the results favored the group who had received continuous support.” However, with that being said, as long as your partner is comfortable and napping, you are encouraged to nap as well.
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