Hopefully you're refreshed after that beer intermission. If those few beers killed a few too many brain cells. We finished Part 1 of the antenatal class with 'After Birth' and what normally happens then with skin-to-skin, first feed etc.
We'll pick it up from there shall we?
After all that's said and done with the birth and delivering the placenta, there might be a few things still left to do. This might involve a few sutures due to a episiotomy, (which I'll get to in a minute).
What's important to know, particularly this moment in time with Covid restrictions, for us partners. Is to make the most of the time you have with your partner after birth. As soon as she's brought back to the Post Natal ward. I'll have to leave and the next time I'll see my wife and baby will be in a few days time to bring them home.
Now, I've my fingers crossed that things might change between now and April but I'm getting my head around this reality as best I can ahead of time.
How Can We Help As Partners?
At this point Aisling the Midwife talks about what we can do as husbands/partners. My aim is to provide Physical, Emotional and Information Support. This means having the birth preferences to hand and being a voice for my wife that may not be thinking clearly at the time for obvious reasons.
The antenatal class then talks about instrument delivery which can happen. These are forceps and Ventouse and it's definitely a good thing to bring up in case I got a shock if I saw someone grab a set of forceps.
Instrument delivery so you're aware gents are usually used if there is a suspected or confirmed fetal compromise. The use of the instruments would be performed by an Obstetrician, when your wife/partner is 10cm dilated and the baby is in the birth canal. The baby's position will dictate what instrument they use and a Pediatrician will always be present for this type of delivery.
Just in case you're wondering who all the other people in the room are.
Other things to be aware of
If you hear the midwife say they are performing an Episiotomy, don't worry this is just a small cut. This is done to help baby come out a little more easily should a suspected or confirmed fetal compromise arise.
Planned C-Sections make up 16% of births in Ireland. A planned C-Section could be recommended for a few different reasons but essentially you'll be given a date and time of when to come to the hospital and so your wife/partner can give birth to your baby. Husbands or partners can only join their wife/partner when she is walking down to get the section. Just so ye are aware lads, ye won't be going in until right before.
Un-planned C-Sections count for 15% of births in Ireland. There are a number of reasons again that a C-section would be chosen ahead of a vaginal birth. Things like a confirmed complication or delay in 1st stage, issue with heart rate or blood sample with a low Ph.
Induction of Labour counts for 30% of births and happens quiet a bit for first time Mom's. Generally, you are induced if you're overdue 10 days. Gestational diabetes is another reason too. Your wife/partner will be admitted to hospital and a Prostaglandin (hormone for birth) gel given. You won't be able to go in lads, with the restrictions until she is in established labour. (between 3-10cm)
Another Anagram to keep in mind with decision making around giving birth, BRAIN.
Risks - (What are they?)
Alternatives - (Is there any?)
Intuition - (What's it telling me?)
Nothing - How do I feel if I did Nothing e.g if you didn't have the conversation with your wife/partner.
I tell ya they do love an Anagram does Baby Academy Ireland.
4th Trimester & Breastfeeding
Now, at this point of the day I was feeling sleeping after lunch. But more coffee was had and it was time to concentrate on Breast Feeding.
As you may be aware, us men cannot breast feed. So, this isn't an excuse to just zone out on this section. It's good know the basics and how to help & get involved.
There is couple of types of Breast Milk you might hear. Colostrum which is (Day 1-3), Transitional Milk (Day 1-14), the Mature Milk which is made up for foremilk & hindmilk.
Aisling then demonstrates the different positions for feeding and also shows the size of baby's tummy in the early days. Every baby is different and some will feed for more than others.
As you may expect lads this section is very much centred on your partner obviously as the class goes on to talk about timing, bras, what it will feel like and so on.
Oh and there is a lot of talk about Nipples. A lot of talk about nipples.
Had someone asked me to chose the first word that came to mind after that class... Nipples!
Winding the baby was next on the agenda which I've been thinking could be my job in the whole feeding process. Aisling demonstrates how to hold the baby in different positions for winding, how to rub and tap and to give a decent tap too. You keep the baby Upright as gravity helps with digestion and the tummy is open, then rub and tap.
She also mentions giving baby a Vitamin D supplement as we get fuck all sun in this country. You'll be giving it to baby every day for a year and you just rub the drop on the inside of their cheek. Do not put it in the bottle I'm told.
The class does cover Formula feeding also and talks about the ratios needed for mixing bottles, the temperature and also covers how to sterilize the bottles too.
Leaving the Hospital
Before you're wife/partner can leave the hospital they'll have a Postnatal check with the Midwives. If they've had a C-section they'll be reviewed by a doctor, given any prescription needed and a plan for any follow up appointments are made.
Baby will get a little NCT before they leave too. They'll get a Pediatric Exam, Hearing check and Hip Check.
Your wife/partner is advised to wear clothes when leaving that she wore around the 24-28 week mark. Just if you're wondering what to pack or bring with ya.
Now this is a golden rule when going anywhere with a baby. Baby should be dressed in one layer more than you, with a hat and 2-4 layers of a cellular blanket. That can be one cellular blanket folded over 4 times just fyi.
The class quickly covers fertility after giving birth and that your wife/partner could be ovulating 2 weeks after wards. However, they advise to not get jiggy with it for 6 weeks and longer again for C-Sections.
They also talk about how to spot Baby Blues v Postpartum Depression which is hugely important. There is obviously still a hormonal imbalance but I as the partner need to be aware of the signs and recognise if it's just a Bad Day or a Bad 2 weeks.
The main thing is Talk!
Baby First Aid
On this topic, I hope to fuck I never have to use it but it's good to know what to do in case of an emergency gents. I think it's a great addition in a class.
Signs that your baby is doing well or not are things like are they: Feeding Well, Sleeping Well, Settling Well, Wet/Dirty Nappies and Gaining Weight.
Now should you be concerned about a high temperature its anything above 37.8 degrees (Normal is 36.5 - 37.5). If you record a high temperature on your baby, if it's before 2 weeks call the GP/maternity hospital and after 2 weeks call a GP/Children's Hospital.
Signs a baby isn't well I learned is, if they are not settling which is, if they are hungry, too hot/cold, overtired, unwell. Change in habit of bowel movements. Couple weeks old and having less than 6 wet nappies a day and not feeding efficiently.
Now this may never happen to anyone, but if baby is unresponsive, not breathing or struggling to breath. Call 999 immediately. An ambulance can take up 30 minutes, so know your eircode.
The Anagram they say to remember while you're waiting on the ambulance is, DR ABC. Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and CPR.
Your job is to identify if there is any immediate danger. If there is a response, to place the baby in the recovery position which Aisling demonstrates. If there is no response make sure you have called 999 and never leave the baby alone.
Check the baby's airway for Vomit, blood or a foreign object. If you do see something tilt baby to the side and get it out. If there is noise coughing, let it come naturally I learned but if it's silent coughing you'll be giving baby back blows between the shoulder blades with your hand hitting and moving away. As well as administering chest thrusts.
Lastly, if CPR is needed. It's 30 chest compressions with your first 2 fingers really quickly followed by 2 rescue breaths.
There you have it lads
There is a lot more covered in the actual class and I can't recommend the Baby Academy Ireland Antenatal class highly enough. They also send you a recording of the class along with resources like 'what to pack in the hospital bag' etc.
It's a long day, but it's very clear and straight forward, which is the job. You'll come away feeling like you're that bit more prepared for what's to come in a few weeks time. I certainly do. I feel more knowledgeable about it all, relaxed and that will translate to my wife when she's in labour.
For now though? Time to crack open another beer, get finishing jobs around the house and get working on that birth preferences list.