Lessons from the Delivery Room
Because I’m a bit sleep deprived, I’m gonna do this in list format. This is by no means an end-all-be-all guide to baby delivery and the first few days, but merely my observations and a few tips I think might help out new parents (especially dads).
- Packing extra clothes for dad is arguably more important than packing clothes for mom. Many blogs recommended bringing comfortable clothes for mom to help make the hospital feel more like home, or to feel less embarrassed about wearing hospital gowns and mesh underwear. They warn that these clothes will be ruined. That much is true; they would be. Alexis personally didn't want any of her things ruined, and I promise any modesty you might have as an expectant mother will be thrown out the window in the delivery room. As a dad, however, you’re probably not going to want to leave mom’s side. Everything I read recommended bringing a change of clothes for dad. I recommend bringing four. I needed clothes, and had to send people to fetch them for me.
- Bring your own pillows and blankets. The ones in the hospital suck pretty bad.
- If you’re breastfeeding (or helping mom breastfeed), ask to speak to a lactation consultant as soon as possible. I promise you, they will help ease your nerves about this new ritual that will consume so much of your life. Have them show you all the holds, how to get the baby to latch, how to burp, etc. Ask any and all questions you might have. Have them critique you and mom on your feeding technique, and support techniques. It made a world of difference, and eased us into breastfeeding in a way that we both felt confident in our abilities.
- Have the nursery take the baby as much as possible. Sleep as much as you can. You’ll need it, and you have a lifetime ahead of you with your child.
- Set firm boundaries with grandparents and visitors ahead of time. They’ll want nothing more than to hold the baby constantly, but the stimulation can be a lot for a newborn. Let people know what you expect of them. They’ll get plenty of time with the baby. If you can, limit visitors in the hospital.
- BE PREPARED FOR A C-SECTION. We went in fully expecting to have vaginal delivery, and all signs pointed to Alexis having a normal labor and delivery. Some last minute complications required her to have a c-section, and we were completely unprepared. Do your reading. Take a class. Even if you are dead set on having a vaginal delivery, it’s good to be prepared for contingencies.
- Epidurals are awesome.
- If mom needs pain meds, get her some pain meds.
- As a dad, be supportive to mom, even if she’s being difficult. Pamper her, and cater to her whims. It’ll make you a hero, and make everything go smoothly.
- In our classes, we were told it’s good for dad to do skin-to-skin, but it was hardly more than a mention. I didn't want to do it in the hospital, due to some stupid modesty I had, but when we got home I tried it, and it’s pretty amazing. I think it’s the first moment I really connected with my daughter. As Alexis puts it, it’s like baby crack. I really wish they would put more emphasis on this for new fathers.
- On that subject, skin-to-skin is great, especially for mom.
- Find a video called The Happiest Baby, and watch it before delivery. Your pediatrician probably has it. Just trust me on this one.
I’m sure there are things that I meant to have on this list that I've forgotten. If more comes up, I’ll write an addendum.
By David Farmer (my beloved husband)