|SeattleBirthNet: Just for Dads!
Childbirth Education and Labor Support for Expectant Families
Start Here with correct directions to
the hospital or birth center if you
have any doubt about how to get
there! Print out the directions at
least 2 times and put them in your
glove compartment and a copy in
your wife's "hospital bag".
The Low-Down on Timing Contractions:
Birth is a rhythmical process. You will sense an increase in intensity and duration during labor. You do not
have to time every contraction. You will however, need to time some of them so that you can give the
information to the hospital nurse or provider when you call to let them know she's in labor. The nurse or
provider will use this information to help you make a decision about when to come in. You will want to get
as much information as possible to give them. Use this equation:
When you call you will want to say, "My wife is in labor. Her contractions are ___minutes apart, lasting for
___seconds. She is ______during contractions and _____between them.
Let's break that down.
Her contractions are ___minutes apart. You get this number by asking her to tell you when her contraction
is beginning. You time from this second until the beginning second of the next contraction.
Lasting for ___seconds. Write down what time she says her contraction starts and ask her to tell you when
it goes away. This length of time will fill in this blank.
She is ____________during contractions. Is she sweating, breathing hard, breathing slowly, panting,
grunting, groaning? Use as many words as describe her state. Add your own in as well.
She is ____________between contractions. Is she resting well, drinking plenty of water and eating lightly,
uncomfortable, nervous, crying, panicky, happy, sleeping? Use as many words as describe her state. Add
your own in as well.
When you call in, stay calm, make your statement using the formula above, and write down whatever
directions you are given. Know that however calm and collected and brilliant you normally are, it may all go
out the window when labor begins and you are focused on helping your partner and excited about the
nearness of meeting your child.
If at anytime you feel something is not right, or your partner feels something is not right, do not hesitate to
call 911. Listen to her and listen to your inner voice. Labor is intense and dramatic but a healthy part of a
woman's life. Ask for help if you are not sure.
I've seen everything from a dad drive down the street with the hospital bags packed into the car and his
partner left on the sidewalk, to dads who are so overwhelmed by the sight of their loved one doing this type
of work that they can't remember a thing. And of course the calm and collected dad who manages to do
everything just right. Protect yourself and your reputation by writing everything down and forcing yourself
to move deliberately.
MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: YOU WILL ARRIVE ON TIME TO THE HOSPITAL. DO NOT ENDANGER
YOURSELF, YOUR PARTNER OR YOUR UNBORN CHILD BY DRIVING TOO FAST. IF SHE NEEDS TO
DELIVER HER BABY IN THE CAR, LET HER HANDLE THIS EVENT BY HERSELF UNTIL YOU CAN PULL
SAFELY OFF OF THE ROAD (DO NOT PULL TO THE SIDE ON A FREEWAY!! GO TO THE NEXT EXIT
AND GET SAFELY OUT OF THE TRAFFIC). WATCH THE ROAD AND NOT HER.
If all is well and you can labor at home, do so for as long as possible. How long is that? Until she feels
ready to make a move to the hospital or birth center. Check with your provider who will ask you to come in
when she reaches a point where her contractions are every so many minutes apart AND lasting so long.
Different providers have different times they use so find out what yours wants.
Do you have a question you want to ask?
Read about Dads and Doulas
Click Here to learn more about laboring at home before you head to the hospital or birth center.
Be an informed consumer--know what to look for, what to ask for, and how to say "no". If you forget
everything else, remember that when the nurse or doctor wants to intervene in the normal process of birth
in any way you can ask 4 questions:
1. Is Mom OK?
2. Is Baby OK?
If the answer to both of the above is "yes", move on...
3. What are our options? Define the benefits and risks of both
4. Can we have 10 minutes to talk about it privately?
Be a knowledgeable Dad! What does research say about birth? Read these articles.
The Stork may not help deliver your baby but you sure can! Here's all the tips and tools you'll need
for a great start to supporting your partner during this amazing time...