Preparing for the birth: The hospital tour and Braxton Hicks contractions
Well, that escalated quickly. Week 36 has already been and gone.
Ahead of going into labour, there’s an option to have a tour of the hospital’s facilities, which is exactly what we did last Tuesday (9th May).
The idea behind that is to get an insight of the process that will take place on the big day, preventing us from charging in blind.
Instead we can charge in with our eyes wide open.
Firstly, the parking at Whipps Cross is diabolical. On the day of the tour I had to drop Jenna at the labour wing entrance and then set off to park. It’s an exercise that won’t be repeated if she’s in labour, as I’ll adopt the Sean Paul approach (and stick to my girls like glue).
Could you imagine? “Back in a jiffy, love, see yourself in.”
I wasn’t the only one that set off alone to park, but I was seemingly fortunate as I made it back on time for kick-off. One poor sod arrived to the tour 15 minutes late due to parking woes.
The midwife guiding us recommended expectant parents get a cab or lift if possible, which doesn’t strike me as ideal. She said she even has trouble parking and leaves her car off-site.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed it’s time to make that drive in the dead of night for our pick of parking bays.
Inside the labour wing
We found that a security guard will take on our details on arrival – presumably making sure Jenna doesn’t just have a football under her top – and grant us access to triage. That’s where we’ll check in with the midwives and where two options are presented – the birthing suite or the labour ward.
We’re fortunate that the pregnancy has been without complications, thus we’re able to request access to the birthing suite.
Led by midwives, the birthing suite has private rooms equipped with birthing pools, beanbags, loos, showers and limited medical equipment to make the environment one of peace and tranquillity.
And as much peace and tranquillity as possible is needed to help mums-to-be build up oxytocin, a hormone that helps encourage contractions and birth.
By comparison, the labour ward has a combination of doctors and midwives and comes with a more clinical appearance and traditional hospital atmosphere. It’s complete with machines and doctors who can assist, should any interventions be required, such as pain relief with an epidural and so on.
For me, visiting the hospital was hugely useful. As the one responsible for getting Jenna and Bump there safely, it was definitely not to be missed, as I now feel confident in the knowledge I’ll know the protocol to follow when the day comes.
For Jenna, while it was useful, she admitted it was somewhat overwhelming. It hit home for her that we could be there any time soon, so understandably nerves set in.
Those nerves will surely intensify for the real thing, so I’ll be ready to help her stay as calm and secure as possible, or even be there to get sworn at – all duties, I’m told, a dad-to-be is to embrace.
I previously mentioned reading The Expectant Dad’s Handbook to prepare myself and what I learnt from that was enhanced by our two antenatal classes a couple of weeks ago.
When people ask how I’m feeling, whether I’m nervous or not, the truth is I’m hyped. I’ll probably have some nerves of my own to deal with on the day, but my primary focus will be to get my two girls to the hospital so they’ll take a back seat.
As Jenna’s Braxton Hicks contractions, or Tonis (as in Toni Braxton) as we’ve come to call them, intensify, it’s not just getting her ready for the birth, but me as well.
Whether it’s rubbing her lower back – something I can now thank Jo the midwife for, after making us practice the move in front of the antenatal class – helping her with breathing or getting a hot flannel to ease the pain, these are all getting me warmed up too.
After all, it’s only a matter of time before I’m reaching for the stopwatch and putting them into practice for real.