Blokes don’t belong in the birth room!
“Blokes don’t belong in a birth room – shoot me for being un PC but as far as I’m concerned … It’s womens’ work!!” – Yes, this really was a statement made by one of our clients when we first met him and his pregnant wife.
Were we shocked? No, not at all – in fact if anything we were really impressed by him – because he just came right out and said it. For him the idea of being at a birth, unable to protect his partner from the strains of labour and unable to “mend” the situation on her behalf was totally bewildering and scary.
BUT at least he vocalised his concerns, discussed them with his partner and arranged for us to be able to offer her 1-2-1 emotional and physical support throughout the birth.
Another one of our dads announced during our first full planning visit that he had been traumatised during their first childs birth, and really didn’t know how he was going to cope for this one.
BUT at least he had flagged up his fear during pregnancy and as a team we were able to support both him and mum. During one intense period of labour I asked him to come over to hold his wife’s hand and with encouragement he was able to do just that. She reported afterward that it had meant so much for her to have that fleeting contact – enough to rally around and keep going.
Many of our guys book us to entirely replace them for the birth. Sometimes they have work commitments which mean they cannot guarantee being at home around due date. Other times they have chosen to stay at home and look after their older child in order to avoid as much disruption as possible before a new baby is bought into the birth room.
BUT they don’t expect their partners to go it alone, and a well meaning sister or mother may just not be what they are looking for. So they purchase our birth support services so that we can get to know their partners during pregnancy – enabling us to offer individualised and loving support during labour in their absence.
Sometimes women ask us to be their doula purely to support their partner. In previous births they not only had to work their way through birth, but had to care for their partners as well because he was obviously distressed by the events and circumstances of birth, and they felt they had to “mother” their husbands through birth, rather than being nurtured themselves.
BUT at least they recognise that weakness and ask us to support the man, so that he can then support her.
It has to be said that the majority of our male clients not only attend the labour, but are amazing in the birth room. They bring a unique love and understanding to their partners that we cannot attempt to mirror. In most scenarios, our role is to support them – freeing them up to support the labouring mum. By offering him reassurance from a trusted face, he can relax and “release” any fears or concerns, allowing him to be totally present with his partner – just to hold her hand – stroke her hair – sway her in his arms, whatever she needs from him in that moment.
I repeat a Mantra continually during our antenatal classes – a man can make or break a birth.. If he is relaxed, educated and confident he can support his partner to achieve the birth she hopes for – but if he is nervous, scared or feeling dis-empowered he can “rub off” on the labouring mum and rob her of her belief in birth. (See our blog “Blokes in the birth room”)
Our job is infinitely easier when both mum and dad want to be together throughout labour – but seriously – if either of them have concerns about being present then honesty is truly the best policy. No man should be forced to attend a birth just because “it is expected” and no woman should be asked to go through the most intimate experience in front of her partner if she isn’t comfortable with his presence. This honesty isn’t a negative reflection upon their relationship – in fact it is a reflection of their ability to be honest and open to each others needs.
Are you pleased your partner was with you in labour?
Was your partner simply amazing in the birth room – what did he bring to the experience that made it so much better?
Or was there room for improvement in his attendance? What did he do that didn’t help?