Going into Labor

My wife’s water just broke…

by Joe Kita

The first thing you need to understand in order to handle this situation is what just happened. The baby is inside an amniotic sack that’s filled with fluid. As labor intensifies, each contraction of the uterus compresses this already-stretched-to-the-limit sack and eventually, just like with a water balloon, it bursts. How long it’ll take for the baby to arrive afterward is anybody’s guess. If your wife has given birth multiple times then the skids have been greased, and it could be as soon as 30 minutes. But if it’s her first baby, it could be hours. Assuming it’s the latter, here’s how to react:

Take your own pulse: That’s right. In order to help your bride most, you need to remain calm. “There’s no reason to panic,” notes Bryan Wood, MD. “Neither the baby nor the mother is in danger.”

Call the doctor: Report what happened, her overall condition, and the time between contractions. Then ask where to go. If you’re in a big city and your obstetrician works at multiple hospitals have these addresses pre-programmed into your GPS. The last thing you need is the additional stress of getting lost. (Honey, should I have turned left at Arby’s?)

Don’t forget the overnight bag: Hopefully, this will already have been packed. If not, throw in her nightgown (not the bustier), a robe, an iPod, a change of clothes, and any essential toiletries. While you’re at it, pack a bag for yourself (minus the nightgown).

Cover your car seats: A plumbing problem, whether it’s in your wife or your bathroom, is rarely a once-and-done thing. The leak may continue. So lay towels on your fine Corinthian.

Position her accordingly: If the contractions are coming quicker and it looks like she might deliver sooner than expected, Dr. Wood recommends having her lay down in the back seat with a pillow under her head. And whatever you do, don’t hit any potholes.

God’s speed, son.