Labour – Part Two

So, now we were at hospital and we made our way slowly up to the birth centre. A midwife(maybe – I didn’t know at this point who was who) let us in and we were asked to sit and wait for a while. It seemed like an eternity but was probably 20-30 minutes before someone came to get us and took us to a side room. There my wife was assessed by the on-duty midwife whilst I tried to help make her comfortable and get through the next while.

This room was a normal room as far as I recall. No fancy birthing bed and no pool, either. The midwife did her checks and my wife was 5 cm dilated. So yay, we didn’t need to go back home and labour was properly established. This relived me massively. I believed we would be given the delta between contractions but I still worried we’d be sent back as we weren’t far enough along. By now it had started in my head, and the car journey was such a hassle for my wife that I really don’t think I could have taken a knock-back!

castor-oil

Castor oil. Can help induce labour but really it’s here because Google wasn’t helping my ‘icky birth’ search and this looked cool

I made the room as comfortable as I could. I put on some hypnobirthing background music, I got some food ready and some drinks. I was helping my wife stand, sit, lie as she wanted (mainly the former two – lying was bad as that would not help the labour now would it? Gravity is your friend…). I was doing as much as I could think of too help, and responding immediately to her needs. She was focused on labour; I was focused on making that as comfortable as I could.

My wife mentioned to the midwife that she had wanted a pool. So this was going to be setup for us, and would take a while. In the meantime we stayed where we were and periodically upped the Tens machine, did various hypnobirthing exercises and let the midwife check us from time to time. In a couple of hours we moved to 6 cm dilation. Not the pace we’d hoped for but still good progress.

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Yep, a birthing pool. Move along…

As part of this labour started to get real. I don’t want to go into details nor do I need to. But being a very intense biological event it puts stress on the human body. I knew this. I had accepted it. My advice to any man is accept, expect and deal. It’s reality and part of the birth of your child. It is not icky, scary or anything else. You need to be there for your wife/partner. Get over it ahead of time, or straight away. You frankly do not matter. If you pass out and fall over? That’s where you’ll stay. And you’ll be no help to the Mum nor will you see the birth. Pull yourself together, man.

The Tens machine’s limitations were starting to show. Gas and air was requested and provided. I avoided trying any which must be the first time in the history of man that the male birth partner has not partaken. To be fair even had I wanted to (I was focused on helping, not getting air-drunk thanks very much) there wouldn’t have been much time. Contractions were between 2 and 3 minutes and that gaseous cocktail was needed elsewhere…

mayo

Believe it or not my search term for this was ‘midwife dilation’. The mind boggles.

At that moment, around 7, the pool was ready and we moved rooms. I gathered what I could and the midwives/assistants helped with the rest. Oh, and my pregnant wife of course! I think the birthing pool, and what I guess is act III of our labour can come in a third post…

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Our First Antenatal Class – ‘Earlybird’

So this past week my wife and I attended an NHS antenatal class, named Earlybird, for first-time parents to let them know what to expect. First thing’s first – I did not get surprised, blindsided or shocked by what we covered. This is a good thing. It shows I have some grasp on the reality and gravity of the matter, but also have done some decent reading and research despite the fact I haven’t a pile of Dad books on my desk. The internet wins clear to all 😉

It was a useful couple of hours to be honest. A bit of biology which did help me better understand the organ movement my wife is going through, in relation to the baby’s position and so on. How this can vary from Mum to Mum was quite intriguing as a scientist.

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This is antenatal. It also fits with my wife’s expectation that her tummy button will flip. Cool, no?

There were a few Mums and not quite so many Dads there. But we were split up at one point to see what the Mums needed to be comfortable, and what the Dads could do to make the Mums comfortable. We came up with an amazing list. We win. Here’s what I can remember from it:

  1. Pregnancy pillows
  2. Reach for stuff / lift heavy stuff
  3. Listen, nod and say yes a lot
  4. Do housework
  5. Comprehensive catering
  6. Don’t try and fix things
  7. Emotional support
  8. Body image concern alleviation
  9. Massages
  10. Leave space as needed
  11. Man time (to refresh ourselves to ensure tip-top condition for our wives)
  12. Placeholder for when I recall the other 3…
awesome

Us Dads-to-be were. Honestly, every Mum is. Especially my Mum-to-be.

All good stuff, huh? We were awesome. The lady running the class was very impressed. It was a good morning. Makes me eager for the proper NCT course closer to birth. But let’s not rush things, huh? Lots to think about between now and then 🙂

Auntie Dee? Nope, Anti-D

I pretty much assumed I hadn’t heard correctly the first time. I knew I didn’t have an Auntie Dee (I could have misheard about my Auntie P.. to be fair) but couldn’t quite believe that Anti-D was what they were calling it. This essential thing for pregnant women with a particular blood result. Anti-D, it sounds like the kind of thing made up for film or games.

But no, it’s very real and very, very important. My wife’s early-stage pregnancy blood test results confirmed she is Rhesus negative. Being Rhesus negative is far less likely than being Rhesus positive. Being Rhesus negative can lead to your baby suffering from Rhesus disease. This means the baby could be aneamic or jaundiced at birth. Not good.

rhesus

Being Rhesus positive does not mean you’ll turn into this happy chappy

As it is less likely you’re Rhesus negative than positive, it’s most likely the baby will be Rhesus positive. This in itself isn’t a problem but it can lead to sensitisation of the mother, which in turn leads to her blood producing antibodies which can cross the placenta and cause the aforementioned Rhesus disease.

As mentioned, sensitisation needs to occur first. So this issue is more of a problem on second and third pregnancies (and so on) but it’s best to avoid the issue. Hence the injection of Anti-D.

bigneedle

Look at the size of that thing (that’s what she said)

Anti-D is an immunoglobulin, or antibody. It’s basically a chunk of protein critical in any immune response. So fairly common for all of us. But this one’s special. Anti-D helps remove any Rhesus positive blood cells before they can cause sensitisation. How awesome is that? It’s like sending in the top marines to take out the baddies before they’re even an issue.

Anti-D is given routinely to Rhesus negative ladies at or around the 28-weeks mark but also if any bleeding is experienced, or invasive procedures carried out. So if you had amniocentesis you’d get some, or if – like my wife – you have some problems which upon investigation show a small haematoma present, you’ll get it. Spoiler: It hurts!