7. You Should Also Know
Your Labor Coach
Your labor coach may be one of your most
valuable assets during labor and delivery. He (or she) can help you
prepare. He can be there to support you as you go through the
experience of labor together. He can share with you the joy of the
birth of your baby.
Baby can come at any time. When your
little one decides to make his or her appearance, be sure you take care
of some things your partner might forget about. If she works outside
the home, be sure to call her workplace and let them know she’s at the
hospital. Find out if she has any appointments or plans you may need to
change for her. Ask her what might need to be done at home to finish
preparing for baby’s arrival.
In most instances, your partner is your
labor coach. However, this isn’t an absolute requirement. A close
friend or relative, such as your mother or sister, may act as your
labor coach. Or you may choose the services of a doula. Ask someone
ahead of time; don’t wait until the last minute. Give the person time
to prepare for the experience and to make sure he or she will be able
to be there with you.
Not everyone feels comfortable watching
the entire labor and delivery. This may include your partner. Don’t
force your partner or labor coach to watch the delivery if he or she
doesn’t want to. It’s not unusual for a labor coach to get lightheaded,
dizzy or pass out during labor and delivery. On more than one occasion,
coaches or partners have fainted or become extremely lightheaded just
from talking about plans for labor and delivery or a Cesarean delivery!
An important role
of the labor coach is to make sure you get to the hospital! Work out a
plan during the last 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy so you know how to reach
your coach. It’s helpful to have an alternate driver, such as a family
member, neighbor or friend, who’s available in case you can’t reach
your labor coach immediately and need to be taken to the hospital.
Before going to the hospital, your labor
coach can time your contractions so you’re aware of the progress of
your labor. Once you arrive at the hospital, you both may be nervous.
Your coach can do the following to help you both relax:
• talk to you while you’re in labor to distract you and to help you relax
• encourage and reassure you during labor and when it comes time for you to push
• keep a watch on the door and protect your privacy
• help relieve tension during labor
• touch, hug and kiss (If you don’t want to be touched during labor, tell your coach.)
• reassure you it’s OK for you to deal vocally with your pain
• wipe your face or your mouth with a washcloth
• rub your abdomen or back
• support your back while you’re pushing
• help create a mood in the labor
room, including music and lighting (Discuss it ahead of time; bring
things with you that you would like to have available during labor.)
• take pictures (Many couples find
photographs taken of the baby after the delivery help them best
remember these wonderful moments of joy.)
It’s all right for
your labor coach to rest or to take a break during labor, especially if
labor lasts a long time. It’s better if your coach eats in the lounge
or hospital cafeteria. A labor coach should not bring work into the
labor room—it shows little support for the laboring woman.
Many couples do different things to
distract themselves and to help pass time during labor. These include
picking names for the baby, playing games, watching TV or listening to
Talk to your healthcare provider about
your coach’s participation in the delivery, such as cutting the
umbilical cord or bathing baby after birth. These things vary from one
place to another. The responsibility of your healthcare provider is the
well-being of you and your baby—don’t make requests or demands that
could cause complications.
Decide ahead of time about who needs to
be called after baby’s birth. Bring a list of names and phone numbers
with you. There are some people you may want to call yourself. In most
places, a telephone is available in the labor and delivery area, or you
may be able to use your cell phones.
If you want to be with your partner when
friends or relatives first see the baby, make it clear. In most
instances, you need some cleaning up. Take some time for yourselves
with your new baby. After that you can show baby to friends and
relatives, and share the joy with them.
Some couples choose to bring
young children to see the birth of a new brother or sister. Ask your
healthcare provider’s opinion ahead of time. The delivery of the baby
might be exciting and special to you and your partner, but it may be
frightening to a young child. Many places offer special classes for
older siblings to help prepare them for the new baby. This may be a
better way to help your older children feel they’re part of the birth
Vaginal Delivery of Your Baby
We have already covered Cesarean
delivery in Week 37. Most women don’t have to have a Cesarean
delivery—they have a vaginal birth.
There are three distinct stages of labor,
as we’ve previously discussed. In the first stage of labor, your uterus
contracts with enough intensity, duration and frequency to cause
effacement and dilatation of the cervix. The
first stage of labor ends when the cervix is fully dilated and
sufficiently open to allow the baby’s head to come through it.
The second stage of labor begins when the
cervix is completely dilated at 10cm. Once full dilatation is reached,
pushing begins. Pushing can take 1 to 2 hours (first or second baby) to
a few minutes (an experienced mom). This stage of labor ends with
delivery of the baby. One study showed women who were able to bite down
on a mouth guard had a significantly shorter second stage of labor than
women who didn’t use a mouth guard. Some experts believe a woman using
a mouth guard can push harder and, therefore, shorten the second stage
The third stage of labor begins after
delivery of the baby. It ends with delivery of the placenta and the
membranes that have surrounded the fetus. Delivery of the baby and
placenta, and repair of the episiotomy (if you have one) usually takes
20 to 30 minutes.
Following delivery, you and the baby are
evaluated. During this time, you get to see and to hold your baby; you
may even be able to feed him or her.
Depending on whether you deliver in a
hospital or birthing center, you may deliver in the same room you’ve
labored in. Or you may be moved to a delivery room nearby. After birth,
you will go to recovery for a short time, then move to a hospital room
until you’re ready to go home.
You will probably stay in the hospital 24
to 48 hours after delivery, if you have no complications. If you do
have any complications, you and your healthcare provider will decide
what is best for you.
Studies show if you wait about
3 or 4 minutes before cutting the umbilical cord, the extra blood
flowing to your baby increases his or her iron levels for the first 6 months of life.
8. Exercise for Week 40
Stand with your feet slightly apart and
your knees soft. Cross your chest with your right arm. With your left
hand, gently push your right elbow toward you. Pat yourself on the back
for a pregnancy job well done! Hold stretch for 10 seconds; repeat 4
times for each arm. Provides a good stretch for the upper back.