A quick guy’s guide to going to the hospital (for the birth of your baby) – Part 1

I thought I might put together a few quick tips for guys who are preparing for the birth of their baby at a hospital, because that’s where mine were born and I would assume yours too. 😛 

Part 1: Get ready!

Before your baby arrives

  • Prepare your leave arrangements from work. Get this sorted as soon as you know the due date of your baby. Hopefully your employer will allow some flexibility regarding your baby’s birth and will allow you to take leave that is convenient for your arrangement. I was fortunate enough to be able to take annual leave as a buffer time before both my sons were due, and then parental leave was set to begin on the day my sons were born.
  • Pack your bags. There are many resources out there for what mums should pack, but what about dads? On top of what mum and baby need in their bag/s, I suggest the following items should be in the dad bag:
    • Smartphone. You’ll want something that can make calls to the hospital, at the least. And if you’re Gen Y like myself, you need to have something with internet access so you can satisfy your need to feel connected (and it will probably also cover the next few points too).
    • Handheld gaming console, tablet, or other form of portable electronic entertainment. If your partner is having a long labour, you probably want something to do (when you’re not comforting her or helping out, of course). My Nintendo DS came in handy. You could go low-tech and bring a book, too.
    • DSLR or other camera. Capture everything, from the mundane (room number, hospital food) to the awesome (your child’s first fist pump and cheeky grin). HD video FTW, in these moments.
    • Cash and loose change. Both vending machines and parking machines like to eat them.
    • Battery chargers for EVERYTHING. I packed 2 for my iPhone and my wife’s, one for the NDS and one for the Canon 7D.
    • Panadol and a bottle of water. Because.
  • Have a loose plan of how it’s going to happen. Think about the possible scenarios and what you will do when it all goes down. What will you do if your partner is giving birth and you’re at work? Plan your transportation routes. Allow time for traffic.  Know where you need to park at whatever hospital you’ve booked to go to, and where you need to go once you get there.
  • Be prepared to wait a while. A long while. First babies tend to want to hang out in the womb for quite some time. During the birth of our first son, my wife and I hung out at home to endure the contractions. We passed the time by baking (and enjoying) some brownies, and Tetris battled for a couple of hours on the Wii. Almost 24 hours passed from when the contractions started to when my wife was admitted to hospital (FYI – you’re only supposed to come to the hospital when the contractions are close together and last a while. Look it up, or ask the maternity ward for their exact contraction-admitting specs). Another 12 hours later and our first son was born. Our second son was born in a much shorter time span (20 hours or so from first contractions) so we only got to play Professor Layton and the Unwound Future for a while.


    You hold the baby like so.

  • Make sure your vehicle is in top condition. Check your fluids and top up as necessary. Check your tyre pressures as well as your spare. Check your battery’s health. Check your headlights and other bulbs. As much as possible, don’t be running around with an empty fuel tank even if you’re lucky enough to have a very fuel efficient car. Prepare some epic hospital journey tunes, because it’s an epic journey. Also pack some plastic bags and towels in case of “emergency”. And don’t forget to get your baby capsule/car seat installed. My tip? Pay to get it installed professionally, so you can replicate what they do in case you need to move the baby seat in the future. The installer should explain to you the best position and settings for your vehicle.
  • Get as much sleep as you can. Because you’ll need it. Trust me.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!