This is a key part of your preparations, so make sure you know what you’re doing. Follow these tips and you’ll be relaxed and in total control.
Learn your route
Make sure you know exactly how to get to the hospital. The last thing she needs is for you to be driving round in circles pretending you know where you’re going. Then make sure you do a couple of practice runs – once during rush hour just to see how long it takes at the busiest times. If the hospital has more than one entrance make sure you know which one you need and where to go once you get inside.
Check for roadworks
As it gets nearer ‘the time’ keep an eye out for roadworks. You’re going to need a Plan B route just in case they’re suddenly digging up the road.
This is your car’s big moment. It’s never going to win the Monaco Grand Prix or star in a Hollywood car chase so don’t let it down. Make sure you’ve got all your stuff up to date – tax, insurance and your licence - and most importantly, fill it up with petrol. The good lady is unlikely to laugh at the irony of running out on the way to hospital, and much more likely to cause you the sort of injury which will ensure you never get her pregnant again.
Fit the car seat
So two of you went in the car to the hospital. Three (at least) are coming back in it and a newborn is neither the shopping nor a football kit bag – it can’t be slung in the boot or left on the back seat. So remember to fit the car seats a week or so before the baby’s due. There’s nothing quite like trying to fit a baby seat for the first time in the hospital car park while the wife and baby stand there in the rain. This is guaranteed to stress her out and make you unpopular (and with good reason).
Book your driver
If someone else is driving, like a relative or friend, make sure they have their mobile switched on at all times and know when you’re ‘in the zone’ and likely to call them. There’s no point in your best mate volunteering and then when you ring him he’s also ‘in the zone’ – the sambucca-induced one that comes just before the burger and blurry minicab ride home on a Saturday night. This is important stuff and you need someone reliable.
When the moment arrives
999 – No, no, no
When she says it might be time to go to hospital, don’t reach for the phone and ask for an ambulance. She’s having a baby, not a heart attack. If you do have concerns that things aren’t going to plan, call your doctor or the labour ward at the hospital (you’ve got those numbers written down somewhere and plugged into your mobile, right?).
Get her into the car
Calmly get her and the bags into the car, talking softly and telling her everything is going to be OK. There’s no need to rush it and she needs you to be supportive and in control right now. And while you’re at it, turn the car stereo off – she’s unlikely to be relaxed by your mix of Eminem and Metallica.
Her waters have broken!
Don’t worry if her waters break. This is not a sign that the baby is about to appear in the next couple of minutes. Phone the labour ward and ask for their advice. They might ask you to come on in, or stay at home and wait for the contractions to increase. You could clean it up and run her a bath though, couldn’t you?
Empty the piggy bank
If you’re taking your own car be aware that hospital car parks can be incredibly expensive – remember to move the car if you get a chance. Telling her you had to sell the house to get enough money for the car park will not go down well at this stage.
If you’re going into a central London hospital remember to pay the congestion charge if you go through the zone. It’ll be the last thing on your mind but if you don’t remember to do it it’s a £60 fine.
It’s not a race
You don’t need to be Lewis Hamilton. In the vast majority of births, there’s plenty of time to get to hospital and you don’t want the most memorable picture of the day to be the one taken by the speed camera.