Do you know what? Your partner has already done a lot of the hard work to ensure things go smoothly on the big day – and no doubt you have helped too. There are, however, a few practicalities that you’ll need to have sorted for the moment your partner goes into labour:
Firstly, a quick reminder that, if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to give your employer at least three weeks’ notice of when you intend to take your paternity leave, possibly in writing. Of course, you cannot know the due date for sure, but keep your boss and HR department up to date of any developments that might lead to an earlier birth.
Get the right contact number
This is the first point of contact for your midwife or the hospital where your partner is booked in to have the baby. It’s highly likely your partner would have committed this to memory, so make sure you do too. Put it in your mobile, write it by the phone, whatever it takes.
By now your partner – and hopefully you – will be used to the hospital where your baby will make his first appearance but do you know the best way to get there? Is there a shorter route or one more likely to be blocked by traff ic at certain times of the day? Do your research and test them out!
Where do you park? Do you have to pay? There might be special dispensation which the midwife may mention at the antenatal classes. Ask if not. You may have a certain period of time before you have to pay. Then make sure you have the right change in the car that you do NOT touch until the big day.
Always make sure there is enough petrol in the car to get you to and from hospital. Check the oil regularly and triple make sure you haven’t left the lights on – anything to minimise the chances of breaking down en route to hospital.
No car? Or in case of emergency? Or if you’ve had a drink?
Keep a handful of reliable cab numbers in your mobile – and keep this charged at all times!
The hospital bag
Perhaps the most important thing to do in the run-up to the due date is have a hospital bag fully packed and waiting near the front door for you to pick up on your way out of it.
The Third Trimester: 28–40 Weeks
Your partner will probably be sorting this out well in advance according to her preferences but in case you have to sort a bag in an emergency, then don’t forget the following for her:
▶ The birth plan and maternity notes – keep these notes at the top of the bag as you’ll need them first when you arrive at the maternity unit
▶ Dressing gown, slippers and socks
▶ Nightdress or T-shirts – comfortable to wear in labour
▶ Massage lotion or oil in case she wants a massage during labour
▶ Lip balm as lips can get dry during labour
▶ Anything special the birth plan requires, such as a birthing ball.
Inflate in hospital – you may want to pack a pump!
▶ Hair clips and/or bands if your partner has long hair
▶ Pillows – the hospital may not have enough. A special cushion
that she uses is a nice touch.
▶ Mobile phone and charger (hers and yours)
▶ Digital camera in case the phones don’t suff ice (and spare SD cards!)
▶ Things to keep her (and you) entertained: books, magazines,
▶ If you’re bringing CDs to play during birth, check the ward has CD
players – if not, pack your own. These days it’s probably better
to use MP3 players – less to pack!
▶ Drink and snacks to keep you refreshed – enough for both of you
▶ Hand-held fan or water spray to cool her down during labour
▶ Swimwear if she is going into a birthing pool – feel free to pack your own too!
▶ Bendy straws to help her drink during labour
▶ Comfortable shoes for you – you may be doing a lot of pacing
▶ Change of clothes and going home outfit
▶ Her toiletries bag – make sure she keeps this fully stocked and you don’t forget things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner to help her feel human again after
▶ Other things to remember for aft er the birth include: leaflets on breastfeeding given at the antenatal classes and accessories like nursing bras, breast pads, maternity pads (a few packs), eye
masks and earplugs to protect her from a noisy, bright ward. Also a change of knickers – old, cheap knickers or even disposable ones.
▶ And for the baby you’ll need: two or three sleepsuits and vests, baby blankets, nappies, wipes, muslin squares, socks or booties, a nice going home outfit and a hat and jacket for a colder day.
Oh, and make sure that car seat is all ready in the car!
Suffice to say, you may need two bags – maybe a bigger holdall (don’t make it too heavy) and a rucksack for the smaller items. Be organised and maybe pack larger items like pillows or birthing balls separately – but don’t forget them!
Make the most of any extra time
So everything’s sorted and it still feels like an eon that you have been waiting for the baby to arrive, right? The due date has come and gone and it’s increasingly uncomfortable for your partner for all manner of reasons. My only advice would be to make the most of any extra time that your baby is allowing you to spend together doing simple couple stuff like enjoying a meal together and watching a whole film uninterrupted (well, apart from a few toilet breaks). Oh,, and sleep, although, sadly and somewhat unfairly, this also becomes increasingly uncomfortable for your partner to manage.
Rest assured, parenthood is just around the corner.
Extracted from Pregnancy for Dads-to-Be: Everything You Need to Know from Conception to Birth by Adam Carpenter, published by Summersdale 2016. £7.99. Available from amazon.co.uk