- Antenatal classes
- Father’s role
- Home delivery
- What you will need in hospital
- Onset of labour
- When to go to hospital
- Admission routines
All the antenatal clinics hold classes preparing parents for the birth of their baby. They also aim to support parents in receiving the new member of the family and maturing towards parenthood.
The purpose of the antenatal classes is to get the mother and father to take an active part in the birth, to make the delivery as favourable an experience as possible for the mother, and to ensure that the baby arrives in good condition. If they are to act in the optimal way in the course of the birth, both mother and father must know exactly what is happening. In particular the classes aim to teach e.g. the breathing technique and muscle control.
Giving birth to a baby demands a lot of muscle work and thus a lot of oxygen. The mother must therefore be able to relax in order to conserve her energy. Command of the method makes the birth quicker and less painful.
Most hospitals let the father take part in the delivery. Some provide that he has attended the antenatal classes.
During the birth it is the father’s job to support his wife and act as her psychological “coach”. He can massage her aching back, supply her with drinks, wipe away the sweat and remind her to relax. Since the birth usually takes several hours, the father’s presence creates a sense of security and keeps the mother’s spirits up.
According to fathers who have seen their babies born, it is a tremendous experience. And it certainly makes them appreciate all the effort that goes into the birth. They feel closer to their babies if they have seen them born. The feeling of belonging together as a family is also enhanced.
Not all families can or want to have the father present at the birth, however. Decide what you are going to do in good time. Some hospitals allow some other relative or friend to be present instead of the father, but not all.
Giving birth is a natural event and it should take place in as quiet an environment as possible. The baby and the mother play the leading roles throughout and their welfare is important. Not all hospitals are able to arrange a ‘soft’ delivery, so many mothers have asked whether they could give birth to their baby at home. This is, however, difficult in Finland because help may in an emergency be too far away. And the risk cannot always be predicted. Finland can boast some of the lowest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world, precisely because so much attention is paid to safety in Finnish
hospitals. Rather than concentrating on home deliveries, it would be better to improve the hospital facilities so as to make greater allowance for families.
Many hospitals have in fact already done this, and families can express their wishes in advance. The mother can choose the position in which she wishes to give birth, and she is allowed to walk around during the delivery. Many hospitals have delivery chairs, rocking chairs and paddling pools. The time spent in hospital has got shorter, and out-patient deliveries are possible. The mother can then go home straight after the baby is born if all has gone well.
Pack the things you are going to need in hospital in good time.
Remember to take with you:
- your maternity card and any earlier ones
- the form from the clinic giving your personal data
- your sickness insurance card
Don’t forget your toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, and other such personal items, and a nursing bra. You can if you wish wear your own dressing gown and nightdress while in hospital.
Some hospitals may expect you to pay on being discharged. Your partner can bring you the money and the clothes to take the baby home in the day before you are discharged. The baby will need a vest, pants, shin, baby stretch, nappy and nappy plastic, bonnet and sleeping bag. If the weather’s cold, it will also need a woollen cardigan or jacket.
Labour begins with the show, i.e. when the mucus plug at the mouth of the cervix comes away. Sometimes the first sign is when the waters break, either gradually or in a rush. Another sign is that the contractions get stronger, more frequent and regular. Inserting a drip can induce labour.
If this is your first baby, go to the hospital when:
- each contraction lasts 45 seconds
- the contractions are coming at regular 5-10 minute intervals
- they have been going on for two hours.
If this is your second or later baby, go to hospital when:
- the contractions are regular and
- they last for at least 30 seconds.
Naturally the time will also depend on how far you have to travel. If the previous delivery was quick, you can expect this one to be quick, too. Go immediately if the waters break or if you have any bleeding other than the show, or you have acute pain.
The following procedures will probably be carried out on admission.
First you will be weighed and washed and asked to change into hospital clothes. You will then be given an enema, as an empty bowel gives the baby more room. Your pubic hair may be shaved off. Your blood pressure and pulse will be taken and your urine tested for protein and glucose. An external and internal examination will be made to determine the baby’s size, the size of your pelvis and how far the cervix is dilated.