The big day has arrived and you are pulling up to the front door of the hospital. Your partner is in labor, huffing and puffing every three minutes.
Parking illegally in the “No Parking” zone, you could not care less. If you don’t get her into the labor room, you are going to be delivering your first child, alone. This is a scary thought. Fortunately the last contraction just ended and she is talking like a normal person…at least until the next one. You help her out of the car, taking her bag and usher her into the entrance. Grabbing a waiting wheel chair, you move quickly down the corridor. You now wish you’d taken the tour of the hospital and delivery area since then you’d know exactly where to go.
Entering the Labor Floor, a sense of relief hits. You made it! No heroics necessary, no back seat birth, reinforcements have arrived. Once the staff is aware of your arrival, you sit at the end of the hall while they prepare a room. Three more contractions make you and your partner anxious. Why aren’t they taking her into a room? STAT.
Relaxing is out of the question. Your partner is nervous and in pain. She’s already experienced labor at home and you want help NOW.
Despite the outward indifference of the staff, they are preparing a room and taking note of your partner’s behavior. The nurses can tell by her behavior if delivery is eminent. Mercifully, you are escorted to a “birthing room” where your partner changes into a hospital gown and is hooked up to the fetal monitor. This machine registers the frequency of your partner’s contractions and the baby’s heart rate.
The nurse/resident/or your obstetrician does the first internal exam-Can you believe that she is just three centimeters. Seven more to go! You are informed that it will be HOURS before the baby is born.
You have a choice to make. Does your partner want to walk/shower or go home?
• Going home –This is a tough choice. Your partner is pretty uncomfortable and it isn’t going to get any better. While it might seem more comfortable at home if you’re just going to be waiting, you, the new dad, will be taking on a load of responsibility. You’ll be doing a lot of coaching and breathing before you come back to the hospital, most likely in the next six hours.
• Shower/walk. Sometime being in the hospital, knowing professionals are nearby and checking on the baby and your partner is enough for now. Sure, your wife is going to be having contractions and pain, but you have each other and more confidence. Walking might help speed up the labor and a shower can ease some labor discomforts. Give it a try.
Next week, the choices on pain management.
– Dr. Craig Bissinger