A Childbirth Cheat Sheet for Expectant Families: A Delco Delivery Nurse Breaks It Down
Although the anticipation and excitement during pregnancy runs high for the whole family, it can sometimes be hard for fathers, partners, grandparents or co-parents to find their place in the birth experience. Without carrying the bundle of joy, themselves, they might feel a little unsure about how to forge a meaningful bond with the baby. It’s a problem that plagues every expectant family at one point or another, so we sought the advice of delivery room veteran Lori Mancuso, RN-C, BSN. For the past 30 years, she’s worked in Delaware County Memorial Hospital’s maternity wing (she’s seen a whole lot of labors!) and knows all about delivery roles, as well as the dos and don’ts of baby prep. Here, she shares the best ways to support mom and fill an essential role during the birth experience.
Childbirth classes are a must.
“Educating yourself is the best thing you can do before the baby comes,” Mancuso says. By that she means attending birthing classes, reading parenting and baby books, and researching tips and tricks—the more you know, the better. “I’ve found that everyone in the delivery room is less scared and less anxious when they know what to expect,” she says. “Birthing classes teach you the gamut of what can happen and will put you and your partner on the same page before the birth.”
Prepare the baby’s room together.
“Often, the fact that the baby is coming doesn’t feel real to anyone but the mother,” Mancuso says. “Do anything you can to make it feel real.” She suggests preparing the baby’s room together, taking part in the registry and shower, picking out the furniture, decorating the room, and nesting. “Everything shouldn’t fall just on mom. Taking part in the prep work will make partners feel a bigger part of the process.”
Encourage healthy eating habits.
Cravings are a common occurrence during pregnancy, which is normal. However, sympathy weight gain and excessive overeating are a big no-no in Mancuso’s book. “It’s awful how people eat unhealthy foods while pregnant,” she says. “If you encourage her and eat healthy with her, you’ll both benefit, as well as the baby.”
Bond with baby before the birth.
Mancuso encourages talking to the baby, playing music, feeling for movement and keeping track of kick counts. “Babies can recognize voices, so sing or talk as often as possible,” Mancuso says. She also suggests going to OB/GYN appointments as often as possible. “Seeing the baby on ultrasound and hearing the heartbeat will transform this from a surreal experience to your reality.”
Pack fun distraction tools.
“I always tell expectant families, this is not the express train,” Mancuso says. “If mom is being induced, it sometimes can take up to two-to-three days to have the baby.” She suggests partners bring cards, games, music, movies—anything fun to distract moms-to-be before active labor starts. “Take the time to relax, chit chat, and enjoy this time together, just the two of you,” she says.
Put your phone down and help her push.
“One of the biggest pet peeves I see a lot in the delivery room today is cellphones,” Mancuso says. “Put your cellphone down and help her push!” Sitting next to her, rubbing her back, talking her through the pain and helping her find a focal point to breathe through it are all great ways to do your part in the delivery room. “Just be present,” Mancuso says. “You can text everyone and send pictures later.”
When in doubt, ask the nurse.
“Don’t be afraid to ask your nurse questions,” Mancuso urges. “It’s easy to get flustered in the delivery room because women might say or do things that are not normal behavior for her. It’s important to keep in mind that she’s in a lot of pain. Ask your nurse for guidance.” Nurses can explain anything you want to know about the baby or mother’s health, what stage of labor she’s in, and ways to help mom breathe or deal with contractions. “Ask away,” Mancuso says. “That’s what we’re here for.”
For more information on Crozer-Keystone’s full-service maternity care, click here.This is a paid partnership between Crozer-Keystone Health System and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio