It's normal to feel a little jittery about your impending labor, especially if it's your first baby. Try not to keep your feelings bottled up: share anxieties with your partner, since you might find he's in need of reassurance, too. If you have specific concerns, call your doctor. She'll be used to handling these worries and will be able to put your mind at rest. Find ways to occupy your mind, even if it's just doing crosswords, since this will stop you from worrying.
There is so much variation in the time taken to complete the first stage of labor that for one pregnancy a woman might be in labor for days, whereas a subsequent labor might be a matter of hours.
As your partner's primary support, you have the difficult job of trying to take charge, exude calm, and give emotional and practical support. Don't hesitate to call the doctor for advice-a short discussion with her may help you to gauge how far through the first stage your partner has progressed. You must allow plenty of time to get to the hospital and you should be familiar with the route well beforehand . There may be periods when your partner is not lucid, but you will know what she wants better than anyone else. It's therefore your role to advocate for her and to engage with medical staff when she can't do so herself. You'll also know how to reassure and encourage your partner in the right way.
You'll need to support her in whatever position she chooses to use during the second stage -when she's delivering the baby-and provide lots of encouragement. In the third stage, once the baby is born, you may cut the cord and might be holding your new baby while the placenta is delivered.
Generally speaking, if you're having an uncontrollable urge to push, then that's the point where it may be too late to reach the hospital before your delivery. If you did find yourself in this situation, call your doctor who will advise you. He or she may arrange to send paramedics to you for the delivery of the baby. Or you can contact the emergency ambulance services yourself and follow their advice while you wait for their arrival.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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