It's been about two months since the Baby Academy Ireland first opened my eyes firmly to what's in store for me when the baby arrives. That image of the first nappy still haunts me and also the fact it's 16 weeks until I will see one live in person.
Besides all that, it was time to dive head first into a full on day of learning about Labour, Delivery, 4th Trimester & Infant feeding and Baby First Aid.
I'll start by saying lads, it's a long day, a great day of information, but a long day nonetheless. You'll be wrecked after it all, a beer might be needed. At least we had a Cork midwife in Aisling to guide us through the day.
There is a bit of housekeeping to start off, finding out about the others on the course and when everyone was due. Then it's straight into it gents. First up, Labour.
Something ye should know is that from the 36/37 week mark, the baby will become "engaged" into the pelvis. So, around this time Braxton Hicks contractions can be a bit more prominent. Ya remember them being mentioned in 'Friends'? Anyway, they are described as 'non painful' muscle contractions. I'll just have to wait and see if my wife is made of tougher stuff than Rachel.
After explaining that a baby born after 37 weeks is referred to as full term and anything before 37 weeks was premature. It was time to discuss waters breaking.
It's bull shit what we see in movies lads. They don't just burst, destroy the tiles in the kitchen and send you in a panic to get to the car packed up and to the hospital in record breaking time. Also, it's not always a lot of water. Often just a trickle. So, don't expect your other half to explode like Old Faithful the Geyser.
Aisling described what colour normal waters' should be and showed examples in jars. The water should be clear, light pink or cloudy white. With out the aid of the pictures. I couldn't help thinking it looks like Pink Lemonade or a Smirnoff Ice. And then came the first Anagram of the day. COAT!
COAT will be important gents so remember it when your partner's waters do break. Take note of everything, as when you call the hospital, the midwives will ask you for this information so they can figure out how far along your partner is and if you need to come in or not. You don't want to sound like a complete dope and be like...
"Eh, her waters broke there like. Colour? Sure I wasn't paying attention. Let me go ask"
C - Colour of the Water
O - Odor of the water (Should be a neutral smell)
A - Activity of baby
T - Time Waters broke
Have pens handy or write it in your phone. There is two keys things to remember around all this.
First, if your wife/partners waters break before 37 weeks. That is a premature baby. So, get the fuck in the car and over to the hospital.
Second, if the waters is a green/blue in colour. That's meconium (basically the baby has made a poo). And I'll repeat myself, get the fuck in the car and over to the hospital.
Early & Established Labour.
Early labour, how can I describe it for ye lads from what I learned. It's like warming up for a match. You're at the pitch but just not quite ready to kick off. There is some massage needed, some walking around, some friendly banter, changing positions, eating and hydrating.
Your wife/partner will have irregular contractions at this point. She's warming up. Early labour is 0-3cm dilated. The moving around, massage and top class dad jokes can help to relieve these contractions.
Now every pregnancy is different but Aisling the midwife explained that your wife/partner will dilate 1cm per hour. You need to be at 10cm to give birth. So, if you're partners water just broke, you'll make it to the hospital in time no need to panic or have any fear of having to deliver your baby on the Sarsfield Road roundabout.
I know you've all heard these stories of people being in labour for 72 hours or some mad number like that. Technically that could be true, but it's not 72 hours of legs propped up screaming every profanity under the sun at the person who put this baby inside me!
It's more likely that they are in early labour for a 65 of those hours, then everything moved along a bit quicker once they got into established labour. So, your wife or partners water could break. She could be in early labour and be able to labour at home. All you have to do is keep her happy and comfortable. Keep her relaxed and make sure that oxytocin (the happy hormone) is flowing through her veins.
Established labour is 3-10cm dilated. The contractions now have a bit of umph about them. Also, they will not stop now or slow down until the baby arrives.
How do you know your wife or partner is in establish labour and it's time to go the hospital? Big questions we as partners all want to know.
I know, first thought. Some sort of strange Football team formation. Why isn't the midwife not playing a 4-4-2?
But it's not.
It's 1 contraction every 5 mins and lasts for 1 min. You can get an app to track it. If that's what's going on, game on! You're off to the hospital.
Now I was delighted to hear that partners can be in CUMH with their wife or partner when they are in established labour under the current restrictions. So, from 3cm on. Happy days gents, we can be in there for more or less than 7 hours to support. Better that than sitting in the car. However, when your wife arrives at the hospital first. She will have to go in on her own first, get examined to establish she is 3cm or more dilated and is brought to a room. Then you the husband/partner can enter.
Aisling talks about what your wife or partner will feel. Where the contractions will be, that she might get face flushes and that they might be more talkative.
Our job is to support them, comfort them, make sure they eat and drink enough. Need to keep that bladder empty by urinating more as the baby needs space to pass by. Time for another anagram, UFO.
This is a little anagram to help with pain relief which is Upright - Forward - Open. Keep your wife upright, make sure she opens her knees when sitting and move so that gravity can aid in moving the kid down further.
As the contractions start to build towards delivering the baby. Let's talk pain relief. You have Natural, Pethidine, NOX and the Epidural. Now this is something ye as a couple have to talk about before hand and if ye have any preferences or not. I'll run through the options but read up on it as it's important fellas. You need to know what your partners preferences are as she may have other things on her mind at that time.
So, Natural is just your breathing, adding some heat, massage, positions, TENS and stuff like acupressure & aromatherapy. Basically, everything she'd normally need or want when she's dying with a hangover.
Pethidine is an opioid pain med injection. Used in early labour up to 4-5cm and last 2-4 hours. It comes with anti-sickness as some experience nausea from it and it does pass through the placenta. Hence why they don't give it after 5cm as it can effect the baby a little. Keep in mind that you'll have to have 20 mins of heart monitoring before you can have it.
NOX is nitric oxide and is available pretty much everywhere in the hospital. You can take it from 3cm dilated on, it's fast acting and wears off quickly. It does not pass through the placenta and some experience the spins from it. It's also mobile.
Now, this was the moment Aisling did her best Darth Vader impression while demonstrating how to use one. I immediately thought about having a bash off the NOX when the baby arrives and being able to use the line "I AM YOUR FATHER".
Right, everyone has heard about the epidural and you often hear people say. No need to be a hero, take the drugs. But it's not as simple as a quick injection and away you go.
An epidural is a regional anesthetic guys. Which means once given. Your other half is going nowhere and is staying in bed until all is said and done. As she will be numb from the waist down essentially.
It can be administered between 3cm-10cm. However, it's not a quick process. Your partner will have to be monitored and be able to sit comfortably for 20 minutes while everything is being prepared. It doesn't pass through the placenta but as I said, they'll be bed bound, need a urinary catheter, and continuous fetal monitoring.
There's a lot there to take on board and I hadn't even had my second coffee for the day. It's a lot of information but it's needed. The plan is for myself and my other half to sit down and talk about all the options and start working on our birth preferences list this week.
Now, throughout the class Aisling had this red balloon. She demonstrates what the contractions looks like on the womb with it and what fully dilated looks like.
I'll tell ya this, I fucking hate that sound of crunching balloons. Makes my skin crawl. But anyway, time to man up and learn about delivering this baby, you've hit the 10cm mark.
Delivery can take anything from an 1 hour to 90 mins. This can vary obviously. But essentially you're there fully gowned up etc. for the length of a football or rugby match.
Contractions are 45-90 seconds long and about 4-5 minutes apart. Each contraction is pushing the baby further down the birthing canal.
Now, another myth busted that the movies or TV has led us to believe. Once the baby crowns, you stop Pushing???
In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary... Come again?
I was like, she can't be serious. She was! Your partner stops pushing and starts trying to blow out a thousand candles in bid to break a Guinness Book of World record or something.
Time to listen to the midwife and follow their lead. They know what they're doing. The baby is nearly here and every little blow is one step closer they keep saying.
After birth, your partner isn't quiet done and has to birth the placenta. There is also delayed cord clamping to allow as much blood and nutrients to enter baby. Then it's time to do some skin on skin, put baby to breast, first feed or whatever ye as a couple decide to do.
Often times a woman gets an injection of oxytocin to birth the placenta, it just helps to speed that process up. Just in case your wondering why the nurse has the injection ready and is heading for your wife/partners thigh with it.
So, your baby will have it's first feed within the 1st hour, so I found out. If this child is anything like me, they'll be looking for food straight out the gate.
"Alright lads, how are ye? Listen, we'll chat in a minute, I'm starving here. Lob me that boob there will ya? I'd murder a bit of Colostrum"
The baby gets an exam and check up of course. Get's their tags and a little injection of Vitamin K more than likely while they're having the first feed. (You can give baby Vit K drops for the first year instead, but it sounds like a lot of hassle if you ask me. Get the injection is what I'm thinking, they won't feel it and be one and done. It's one less thing to worry about when you get baby home).
Right I've been banging on for a bit, trying to get as much info in as I can. Me thinks you need a break for a beer. I could have done with a beer break at the time as there is a lot of info to take on board. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I talk about the things that may arise during delivery, C-sections, the 4th trimester and baby first aid.