You won’t be able to carry the baby, work through the contractions, or push out the baby; the mum-to-be is going to do all that.
But there’s something you can do – and do brilliantly. And that’s getting her to the hospital.
Oh yeah, that’s where you are going to shine.
She’s going to feel like Taylor Swift in a limo, thanks to the smooth ride you’re offering.
Your part in the whole birth thing is arguably limited (not too limited, because dads can do loads to help in the birth centre), but you definitely need to excel at this ‘getting her to the hospital’ thing.
10 Top Tips For Driving Your Labouring Partner To Hospital
Let’s start by saying you’ll never get the credit you deserve for this heroic journey. Nobody ever includes details of the drive to the hospital on the birth announcement cards; the focus is all on mum.
However, if you mess up the journey, if you take her to the wrong hospital, or stop for a cheeky drive-thru on the way, you’ll never hear the end of it.
Here are 10 tips to help you win the title of World’s Best Chauffeur to Labouring Women:
#1: Plan Your Route In Advance
Your partner probably won’t want the voice of the sat nav disturbing her calm while she’s trying to focus on contractions. And she definitely won’t want you to be fumbling with a map.
Plan your route in advance. The best route will depend on the time of day, so check whether certain roads are better to avoid during rush hour. Also check for planned road works and road closures which might affect your route.
#2: Make A Checklist
Everybody makes mistakes, but labour is not the time for you to make them. You don’t want to have to utter the words ‘Oops, I forgot the…’ to a woman, mid-contraction, as she looks around for something (read: somebody) to squeeze to distract her from the pain.
Make sure you have absolutely everything you should have. Again, you won’t get any credit for this, but if you forget something, everybody will hear about it.
Talk to your partner in advance about the things you’ll need to take with you on the day. Write a checklist and display it near the front door – somewhere you won’t be able to miss it. You’ll have quite a lot of things to remember, such as:
- Hospital bags
- The car seat for the baby
- Phone chargers
- Your partner’s hospital notes
- A bottle of water for the car journey.
#3: Be Ready To Go
As soon as your partner reaches 37 weeks, you need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Make sure the car is in good working order, with a full tank of petrol. Nobody wants to have a contraction at the petrol station.
Have your hospital bag in the boot, and a bag of loose change in the glove compartment, ready to pay for hospital parking.
#4: Don’t Go Too Soon
You should encourage your partner to labour at home for as long as she’s comfortable.
Labour progresses better when women feel safe and relaxed, so it makes sense to stay home as long as possible. Labour can take a while, so you don’t need to rush to the hospital at the first contraction.
Encourage labour to progress by walking, dancing and staying upright. That means encourage your partner to do those things. Obviously your dancing will have little effect on the labour, although it might amuse your partner and distract her from the contractions.
As a general rule, you should go to the hospital when the contractions are:
- Lasting about 45-60 seconds
- Coming every five minutes
Before you set off, call the hospital to tell them you’re on your way. Let them know how frequent the contractions are, and how your partner is doing, so they know what to expect on your arrival.
If anybody else is joining you for the birth, ring them and tell them you’re heading for the hospital and they can meet you there. Whether it’s doulas, best friends, mums … whoever is supposed to be there, give them a call before you set off.
#5: Don’t Forget Anything
Remember that checklist you wrote? Well, now is the time to read it. Check it, re-check it, and then check it again.
Once you’re sure you have everything you need, it’s time to usher your partner gently out of the house and into the car. This is a big moment. When you walk back into the house, you’ll be parents.
#6: Cover The Seat
You might want to do this discreetly, so as not to offend a woman who’s about to push a baby out of her nether regions, but it’s worth putting a towel or a puppy training pad on the seat.
It’ll probably be fine, but it makes sense to put something down just in case there are any leakages.
#7: Let Her Choose The Radio Station
Now might seem like the perfect time to listen to the game, but it’s really not. You might also like to listen to that metal band you like but, again, no!
Now is the time to do whatever your partner wants. Whether she wants to sit in total silence, or put on a hypno-birthing track, or crank up an R&B station, just go along with it.
#8: Drive Carefully
Remember, labour can take a while. You don’t need to break the speed limit to get to hospital. You have plenty of time. Drive carefully. Stick to the speed limit, obey the road signs, and generally drive like you’re taking your test.
Since her uterus is contracting, your partner will probably appreciate it if you take it slowly over speed bumps, brake gently, and avoid swerving round corners.
If you don’t, then expect to have a few expletives thrown your way.
#9: Don’t Panic
Do not panic. Your partner’s labour will progress better if she can stay relaxed and calm. To do this, she needs to be surrounded by relaxed and calm people. Make sure you’re one of them.
Remember, she knows you really well, and she can tell when you’re worried. Take a deep breath, relax, and get ready to be the world’s most amazing birth partner. You’ve got this.
#10: Tell Her She’s Doing Great
For some women, labour stalls when they make the journey to the hospital. Keep your partner calm and relaxed by reassuring her during the journey. Tell her how great she’s doing, how proud of her you are, and how you can’t wait to meet the baby.
The next time you get in the car, there will be a baby in the back seat. What your partner needs right now is to feel loved and supported, so make it happen.
Don’t say this out loud, obviously, but also remind yourself that you’re doing a great job, too. When you pull up at the hospital, give yourself a pat on the back (but not literally, obviously, because that would be annoying)
Then get ready, because you’re about to become a father.