How To Be The Best Labor and Delivery Assistant

My sister just had a baby. Her name is Valentine Greer and she’s 7 lbs of pure awesomeness. I didn’t think I’d get to see her birth, but the one night I was staying in town, my sister saw fit to go into labor. So there I was. Getting a call at 1:30 a.m. to come to the hospital and assist her. Gosh! Labor is so intense. There was a lot of freaking out, yelling, and trembling involved . . . until her husband told me to pull it together.

So now that I’ve experienced one labor and delivery (I don’t count my own), I think it’s only right that I share my wisdom with the rest of the world. Here’s some tips for everyone out there who might one day be asked to be IN THE ROOM as a baby is being born.

#1: The drive there. This is your chance to drive any way you want to. When I was in labor, my husband drove like Yoshi in Mario Kart, dodging and spinning and laughing in a high pitched voice. I did not appreciate this, I’d much rather have more of a steady but fast Ryan Gosling-esque experience like in Drive. Actually, no . . . maybe it was just that I wanted Ryan Gosling to drive me? I don’t remember. Anyways…

[insert obligatory picture of Ryan Gosling]

This is your one chance to go fast and furious. To be the ultimate transporter. To be like Jason Bourne and race your car backwards through traffic. Because if the police stop you all you have to do is shout, “MY SISTER’S HAVING A BABY!” At least, I think it works that way.

#2: Labor starts out pretty slow. There’s the sudden rush of excitement when the water breaks and you rush to the hospital, but then things get pretty boring as the heavy contractions don’t start until later. So this is when you step in and liven things up. Some fun activities during this time are:

-playing basketball with the birthing ball, using a trashcan strapped to an IV as a hoop. This works especially well if there are several laboring mothers with you in the hall, because then you can form teams.

-set up video game consoles and play some games to get the mother’s adrenalin up. Postal 2, Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, and Madworld give some precious background ambience as the child enters the world. Sometimes the mothers might want to play, but usually the real entertainment value is watching the ladies screaming at their husbands to stop playing and get back to the labor room. Sometimes this excitement is enough to get real heavy contractions started, and I’m surprised more Doctors don’t recommend this method.

-have a spicy pepper competition between the laboring mothers. Whoever eats the most peppers gets first dibs on the big jacuzzi.

-hire a clown. Or rent a bouncy house. However, I suggest asking the mother first which one she wants, as you don’t want to waste your money on both, just in case she doesn’t like bouncy houses or clowns.

Bouncy Houses. Clowns. Always Fun. Better yet . . . a clown bouncy house!

#3: When heavy contractions begin, this is when things start to get intense. if you don’t concentrate on relaxing, you might lose it altogether. So if the groaning is starting to wear on you, just turn up the music. If the screams make you lose your cool, jump into the jacuzzi for a bit (if there’s a laboring mother in there just ask if you can share or something). If the constant walking is making you tired, eat something (note: don’t offer the mother anything to eat because she’ll probably vomit it up later and the meal will be wasted). But most importantly, don’t freak out. It would most assuredly not be good for the mother to see you freak out. Anyway, she’s probably doing this enough for the both of you.

Labor is starting? Hold ON!

#4: Listen and obey the mother’s every word. If she wants a blanket, give her a blanket. If she wants you to knit her a blanket from toilet paper, knit her a freakin’ toilet paper blanket! If a second later she wants you to take the blanket off and burn it in the trash can, then burn the darn thing. If she doesn’t like your perfume, change clothes (if you don’t have extra clothes put on a hospital gown). If she wants you to massage her left big toe, do it. If she hates the color in the hospital room, paint it. If she wants some warm, fresh goat milk then go milk a goat! Basically, obey her orders as if your life depended on it. Because you never really know what a laboring mother is capable of. And also, because you love her.

#5: Do NOT say what you are thinking. They call it the miracle of birth because there seems to be no physical way this baby is coming out.

Saying: “You’re doing great!”   Thinking: “How the heck is this going to turn out? I know anatomy but . . . it might as well be pulled from her belly button . . . how is this going to end well?!”

Saying: “Take a deep breath and push. You’re almost there.”   Thinking: “This baby better be the size of a pickle or this is gonna get really messy.”

Saying: “I see the baby’s head!”   Thinking: “Oh my gosh this child doesn’t have a face. I’m seeing a head and no face!”

Saying: “Oh wow.”   Thinking: “Aaaaaaaaaaaagh. It’s cranium is made of jelly bones!”

Saying: “IT’S COMING.”   Thinking: “Don’t lock your knees. Think about drinking a cold beer on a beach. This is incredible but I’m going to faint.”

Saying: “You did it! Beautiful! What an amazing baby girl!”   Thinking: “Totally purple skin. Wrinkly scrunched face. Big head, little legs. She’s going to have a hard time in Jr High.”

But then the Doctors wipe up the baby and she takes deep breaths and the baby skin isn’t so purple and they are lying skin to skin and the air seems to glow with pure life and joy and you’re crying and saying how much you love them and the world and then you give the nurses kisses and chocolates and then collapse in a puddle because your adrenalin just ran out.

#6: After the birth, you are not done yet. CARBS! Bring the new mother a lot of carbs. Anything she wants, this first meal is important and should be memorable. My sister asked for “something with a lot of carbs” so I made her a roasted strawberry, dark chocolate, and brie sandwich. I thought it fit the bill.

Click for Recipe

So there you go,

good luck in the most intense and rewarding experiences of your life. Now begins the best part: giving that new baby a thousand kisses and whispering “i love you” in her hair. Also, baby breath. Can’t beat it.

Picture by Maria Casteel

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