So you’re at the hospital. You’re prepped and good to go. Ready for the next level? Here’s a couple of tips that may help get you through the birth and hospital experience.
During the hospital stay
- Take it all in, and document your journey. It’s definitely an experience, so take some time to absorb the sights, sounds and smells. If your memory isn’t that sharp, take some photos and/or videos. In part one, I suggested to bring a DSLR or other camera with video recording capabilities. If you don’t have one on you, your smartphone will do. Surely you would want to have a visual record of your baby’s first forays into the outside world. There are professional birth photography services out there, but if you’re on a budget, just DIY. If you can, kindly ask the midwife to take a few snaps. For both of my sons’ births, the midwives were willing to help out. Just hold off on the awkward family photos though. And with video? I don’t suggest you try to recreate the Alien chestburster scene (don’t watch if squeamish).
Treat photography and video recording of the event with discretion and tact. Some ideas for photos and videos you can take are:
- Baby and mummy’s first cuddle. Extra Pokemon Snap points for you, dad, if you can get baby looking into mum’s eyes for the first time.
- When baby is being weighed, cleaned, Apgar’d (your baby’s first physical exam).
- Cutting the cord (framing your shot to keep the gore and private bits off screen is very important with this one). You’ll need someone else to take this shot, because camera in one hand and scissors in the other does not sound like a good idea to me. No missing appendages, pls.
- The whole family with midwife/wives and obstetrician. The baby delivery crew! (Remember, shortest at the front, tallest at the back, and the front row seated with closed fists on knees…)
- Be prepared to do a lot of waiting. Birth is not as quick as they make it out to be on TV and in movies, especially if this is your first child. My dad and brother followed us to the hospital for our first child, expecting to be able to see him straight after the birth. Little did they know that the lil guy wanted to come out 14 hours after we got to the hospital. Being cheeky for tito and lolo even before coming out. Well played son, well played.
- Learn as much as you can. There is a wealth of information available on how to take care of your baby. Why not make use of the classes, advice from midwives, and other hospital staff and services? When you leave the hospital, you’re on your own buddy. And don’t leave everything up to mum. I believe dads should have a stake in all of this.
- Everyone has an opinion. Do your best to filter out what works for you and your family. Try to stay tough-skinned when faced with criticism and a billion different suggestions on simple things like how to change a nappy properly or feeding your baby. You wife or partner will be bombarded with breastfeeding advice from midwives, nurses, doctors, friends, family and the internet. As a new mother, she’ll need all the support you can muster.
- Be nice to the hospital staff. They’re people, not slaves. I know it’s common sense, but a little courtesy goes a long way in making a great hospital experience, especially at a time where you and your new family can feel a little vulnerable.
- Don’t count on being taken care of. For my first son’s birth, I wasn’t allowed to stay overnight. Luckily at my second son’s birth, the hospital allowed me to stay. There was facility for my meals to be delivered with my wife’s, but at our cost. It’s likely your new eating spot will be the hospital cafe, otherwise you’ll have to leave for meals. Cash can come in handy when vending machines and parking machines become your new best friends. If you can get family and friends to bring supplies for you during their visits, that would be awesome and very helpful.
- Be mindful of your guests and visiting hours. It can all get quite overwhelming for you (and for the other families staying in the maternity ward!). You might get to a stage where you don’t want your loved ones hanging around. Just be honest and let them know if it’s too soon to visit. Your priority is your new family, look out for their needs first, particularly your wife or partner. Let her rest. She’ll need it. Your family and friends can suck it up and understand if you need space. Also when they do visit, please kindly ask them to keep the noise down. There are other visitors around, and there are other sleeping mums and babies (and dads!) that could do without the added commotion. When you’re on the receiving end of excessive noise, you’ll understand what I mean.
- Get as much sleep as you can. Because you’ll need it for the next level of parenting. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Missed part one? Check it here. Stay tuned for part three!