The sentence, “Uh-oh, Honey… I think the baby’s coming” and you turning around and seeing your wife holding herself around the tummy, wide-eyed, is not something every dad-to-be can assuredly say he looks forward to. Especially if you both are out grocery shopping and not anywhere near a hospital! But do not panic. All is not lost…
There are so many things that dads would have to adjust to when their wives are pregnant, especially during their third trimesters. They would be privy to so many changes, from morning sickness, to exotic food cravings, and to mood swings amongst others. Now that she’s almost approaching labour, she tends to get tired easily or starts to become slightly more anxious and apprehensive. On the other hand, your wife may be handling her pregnancy so well, that you start to wonder what all the rest of the men were warning you about initially.
Whatever the expectant mother is going through throughout her pregnancy, dads can help in so many ways to make things infinitely better for the mom-to-be, as well as for themselves. Dad could learn to take over some of the household chores, or massage her lower back, or just give her a foot rub at the end of the day. But what if the both of you were taking a nice stroll around the housing area, or out running some errands together and suddenly she turns to you and gives you THAT LOOK and says, ‘Honey, my water bag broke’? This is definitely beyond the mere massages and little comforts you have been giving her. What do you do then?
Here are some useful tips on what to do next…
Do not panic!
The first and most important thing that you should do is to keep your cool. Sure, it may be a little shocking and worrying for you to see a sudden gush, or a slow trickle of fluids flowing from your beloved, but do not panic. It is all part and parcel of the initial stages of labour.
In general, the duration of the labour process from the moment the water bag breaks up to the delivery of the baby is approximately 12 – 14 hours. The water bag breaking is only the beginning, where it would usually be followed by some fairly mild contractions that will later escalate in its frequency and intensity. These contractions will usually continue for about 6 – 7 hours before she absolutely has to be at the hospital to prepare for delivery. So, rest assured that you do have plenty of time to get to your car, or into a taxi, to take her to the doctor, wherever you both may be at that given time. Try to think of it instead as a sign that your long awaited child is on his or her way! The moment has finally arrived!
Know what it is
Throughout your wife’s pregnancy, your child is comfortably enclosed within a membrane ‘bubble’ in the womb, filled with amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid is a concoction of saline ‘juice’, blood and mucous that acts as a type of cushion around the unborn child against any external bumps or knocks. The fluid helps in maintaining the ideal temperature within the womb, and most importantly, assists in the development of the foetus. The nutrition from food that is consumed by the mother would be passed through this amniotic fluid to the baby. When the water bag breaks, it refers to the breaking of the membrane lining of this sac, leading to a gushing or trickling out of fluids. The most important thing to note here is that the fluids should be clear or have a yellowish tinge to it. If it is greenish or even bloody, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Call your doctor
When the water bag breaks, it would be best to call your doctor or midwife to inform them of the situation. It is indeed a lucky thing to be living in the digital age of mobile and smart phones! You could make the call so conveniently wherever you both are at that particular moment. While you are speaking to your doctor on the phone, he will usually ask you a series of questions like if your wife is having any contractions, or the time in which the water broke and even how much she is dilated by. Answer the questions as best as you can and depending on the situation, he may advise you to take her home and wait a few more hours, or to head straight to the hospital.
If, for some reason, you have left your mobile phone at home and have no access to a telephone, do not worry. Like what was said above, you still have plenty of time to make your way to the hospital. When you get there, explain to your doctor or midwife the situation and they will advise you of what to do from thereon.
Pack the hospital bag, prepare the car
If you are advised to head home and wait it out, you can help her by taking the initiative to pack the hospital bag, if it has not already been done. She can assist by letting you know what sort of things she would like to have with her at the hospital. Generally, a well-packed hospital bag should contain several changes of loose clothing (maybe a sarong, if you have one), toiletries, towels, pads if your wife does not want to use the ones from the hospital, and even a book or a puzzle book to keep her company through the long waits before and after the birth. Some people insist on packing some snacks as well, but that will be up to you and the mom-to-be. You can also go a step further by wrapping a garbage bag around a pillow and place it on the passenger seat for your wife to sit on, on the way to the hospital. This would also be a good time to install the infant seat as well.
If you are advised to get to the hospital directly, you can then prepare the hospital bag (also if it has not already been prepared) and the infant seat after you have safely taken her to the hospital. This would also be a good time to inform the grandparents that their precious grandbaby is on its way. They would definitely not want to miss this momentous occasion, especially if the baby would be their first grandchild.
Enjoy the experience
Rest assured that water breaking is a normal part of the labour process. It serves as a sort of ‘signal’, if you will, that your baby is on its way. The experience of your wife’s water bag bursting in the least expected of places, especially when you are nowhere near a hospital, can be a little nerve wrecking for first time dads. Nonetheless, there is absolutely no reason to worry, as what the other ‘veteran’ dads can testify. Try to be as attentive to your wife during this period as well, as this can help in comforting and empathising with her. This would be one of those unique experiences that not everyone will have been through, or would ever go through in their lives. So take heart and be excited, you are almost a father!