Hi there,

Can I just ask everyone here whats the best ... and worst ... things their partners can do during childbirth?

We are having a home birth in 4 and a bit weeks (or less) and, looking forward to the delivery, I'm trying to be a rock for my wife as it;s her first kid and she is pretty nervous ... though she won't admit it. But all is well on course and seems healthy.

My problem is, I tend to lose it a bit when people I love are in pain and I want to remain calm and zen-like for her sake ... and my own.

I've been reading the books and watching the videos and going to the scans, etc. But I know from my first two kids birth's (previous relationship) that that all goes out the window when the birth pangs appear. Granted, they were hospital births and were, thank God, very, very quick and smooth, but things were out of your hands and, I confess, I fainted the first time.

So, I was wondering if you would be kind enough to give me some of your wisdom when it comes to your partners role when the fun really starts in a home birth.

And of course I'd like hints from the men folk in these here parts.

Thanks.

Ronan

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Ronan,
My son was there for both of the home births of his daughter's- Sunny 5 and Annie almost two and I was blown away at the calmness that he had. Annie, the last was born in a birthing tub at home and Sunny the oldest cut the cord. Please e-mail her at nhirsch@myhealthybeginning.com she has helped deliver other babies and is the best. She is so calm and can really help you. She has a magazine that is a must have: myhealthybeginning.com it will be going nationwide next year and she has so much to offer as far as raising children and she has lot's of Dr's etc that add to the magazine. Ask Nichi to have Chad give his take on the birth's.

Blessings,
Jackie
What your wife is gong to have, that she would not have in a hospital birth setting, is constant attention and support from her midwife. This should take some pressure off and allow you the space to leave the room, and take a breath should you need to.

If you can afford(find) a doula this close to delivery, that may also be a good idea. She would be 100% prepared and able to focus on your wife, taking the pressure off you to feel you had to push yourself to stay in a situation that was emotionally difficult to handle.

If you can't find or afford a doula, is there a trusted friend or relative who is supportive and comfortable with your choice to birth at home available to come as well?

I hope that you don't think I'm suggesting that being your wife's sole form of support is out of your realm of ability, I don't. But I do believe very strongly that this experience is as much yours as it is your wife's, and being able to enjoy it, and experience it in a way that is completely comfortable to you, is extremely important. Having someone there to relieve some pressure from you may be exactly what both of you need, and it may help your wife to relax knowing that you will be relaxed too.

Good luck, and when it comes down to it, the two of you will do great with or without the extra support. Homebirth may seem scary because we've been told that birth is a scary thing, but I think you'll find that it is MUCH more calm, secure, and relaxing then your previous birth experiences.

PS We are having our third birth, but first homebirth in April, and my husband is a little scared too. I think in some respects, it goes with the territory. We are protective of the people we love and we want to keep them from harm and pain. Try to remember that what your wife is going through is not harmful in any way, and as painful as it can be, the more relaxed she is, the less discomfort she will feel. Helping her to focus on what an amazing thing her body is doing, may also help you focus too.
Ronan, how lucky you are! It sounds like you are already present and open minded about the birth, which is great.

I think one thing to do is think about the different kinds of pain. At the end of birth pain, you get a baby, which is the ultimate present. At the same time, the pain can be different than any other, and you don't know how long it is going to last, which is the biggest challenge, in my experience.

Ina May Gaskin writes about "taking one contraction at a time" and that is probably one of the most helpful statements about birth. It might be helpful for you and your wife to talk about what might be scary-- if you know she's avoiding it maybe you can set a timer and suggest you have "30 minutes to talk about the difficult stuff" before, just so it's not something she is holding in.

My husband says, "less can be more" in terms of verbal support ;-) I remember my doula reminding me that women have asked for pain to "stop" since the beginning of time. That is part of the reaction.

All the best wishes for an amazing experience. Please come back and tell us about it!
Thanks for your help everyone ... sorry we haven't gotten back sooner ... work is crazy and we queued for hours tonight for the H1N1 shot. Thankfully the rain held off but it's coming down hard right now.

I'll write back more in a bit ... some potentially worrying test results from the 35th week bloods but I'll not get into it until I chat the mid-wife tomorrow.
I won't give any suggestions, instead I'll just say All the Best, YOU CAN DO IT!
I really just wanted my husband with me, nothing more. I knew he didn't know much more than I did, both times. But just having him to hold on to meant the world. You know what else helps though? Honesty. Please tell your wife if you have to pee, or let somebody know if you need to eat. There was always this nagging thing in my head that I didn't want him to feel like he couldn't take a break if he needed it. Not for long, cause I needed him. But still, talk about those things with your wife. I wanted my husband to be able to freely give his attention to me, not to feel like I was demanding the impossible.
Hello Ronan,

Though I am a woman, I would like to share some thing with you if I may.

All of the preparation you have been dedicated to will remain with you as you are relaxed and focused. So whatever you need to help you get to that place do it. PANIC is what NOT to do.

If you can simply remember that rule, your love for your wife and coming child will guide you through the birthing process as you listen to her needs and try to help her stay relaxed and focused as well.

All the best in birthing to you and your wife! Be blessed.

BirthCO.org is for Birthing Communities. Get your invitation today!

Vanessa
These comments are really helpful and informative. Many many thanks to everyone.

We got over our "scare" and the blood pressure is back to normal. We are both very nervous about the birth but really I feel it's going to be just fine. We just can't wait to meet the wee guy.

And Emily, we are doing a water birth. Couldn't I just go pee in the pool? Ha ha. Just kidding.

R
Ronan-

We have two amazing home-birthed boys, and the biggest thing I needed from my husband was to just be present. The thing is, no birth is the same as the first, or the last, and our needs may change. When our last son was born, I remember asking Jay to talk to me- tell me he loved me, tell me we were going to be holding our baby soon, etc. Sometimes, I just needed him to let me lean on him. The key (for us), was not having any preconceived expectations, other than being there. I didn't know specifically what I was going to need, so I couldn't prepare him ahead of time. I also asked him not to be offended if I asked him to be quiet ;) Best wishes to you!
Thanks Carrie. I have already bought my thick skin especially for the big day/night. We are discussing the mood/ambiance/music etc at the moment - hopefully I can help to prepare the house and not mess that up too much - I do get a bit forgetful. Ha ha. Our mid-wife says people she has worked with have given birth to everything from Heavy Metal to Mozart. Oh it's all very exciting.
p.s. Ronan, you are not a bit lowly....

(and we forgot the music, both times)
Hey there,

Things have been hectic here, looking after the baby and the Mrs and trying to get back to work. I got M into a bath and finally get a chance to write an note and tell people thanks for their kind words and thoughts after M and I welcomed our baby into our home. It was the best of times, it was the worst of time. Truly.

M had a very quick labor. Her waters broke at 2.50am and the baby was born at 11.31am, delivered by yours truly into the world ... all 7Ibs 5oz and 21 inches of him.

M had just finished her five finals the week before and luckily had had a chance to rest up ... a little ... before the labor. Drug free childbirth takes it out of you and thank God she was rested ... although we didn't sleep that night at all.

During labor, she was in and out of the shower to the bath to the water birth to the birthing stool and was in good enough humor between contractions. I was getting a LOT of abuse but given the circumstances I didn't take it personally ... some day I'll get my own back ... ha ha.

Once M approached the final stage of labor, the baby's heartbeat kept dropping during contractions and the mid-wife decided we would be best to have an ambulance outside just in case he had difficulties when he arrived ... but no sooner had the ambulance pulled up than he was born. Such a beautiful perfect boy. He came out crying and kicking like a mule. I helped him the last step of the way and caught him as he came out and handed him up onto M's chest. I had been himmimng and hawwing about doing that but at the time it felt so natural and I'd not trade that experience for gold. I also cut his cord ... no going back no big fella.

Unfortunately after a few moments we noticed M was hemorrhaging quite badly and the mid-wife administered a few shots to curtail the bleeding. We got the baby cleaned up and and his Mum gave him his first meal as breast feeding makes the uterus contract, lessening the blood flow.

90 minutes later and M was still bleeding although the mid-wife reckoned her womb had contracted properly and the drugs had done their job. We decided to get her on a drip and ride it out and see if it would clot itself before calling the ambulance ... although at this stage I was very concerned and would have been in the hospital ages ago ... but ... M is made of tougher stuff than me and wanted to stay with her new born son. Moments later, as I was chatting her on our bed, she turned gray and started passing out. We contacted the ambulance again and tried to keep her conscious until the paramedics arrived.

10 minutes later we are in the ambulance on the way to hospital, M being monitored all over the place but conscious and in good form with her vitals stabilized. We got her into the maternity word at the hospital when she started to pass out and convulse again. They put a blood pressure monitor on her and it was 50 over 39!!! Had I know then what I know now about what those numbers signify I would have been a lot less calm. Immediately really loud alarms started going off all over the ward and seconds ... and I mean seconds ... later, doctors were rushing in with gowns and masks on shouting at each other. The nurse told me to keep talking to M or words to the effect of "she might not make it" while the doctors pushed drug after drug and shouted "stat" after each order .... I shit you not, they say stat in real life too.

A lady doctor got between M's legs and saw that she had gotten torn during delivery. In the process she had ruptured an artery in her birth canal and that was what was bleeding, not her uterus ... though that had ruptured too but was under control. The blood had sat inside her when she was being transported and when they moved her in the hospital a clot came away and the blood rushed out with a huge drop in Blood Pressure.

The reason she had torn was because with the baby's pulse dropping the mid-wife wanted to get him out quickly. Normally with home births you are less likely to tear but in this case we had to take aversive action and Mwas only pushing for 10 minutes instad of the normal 3-4 hours.

3 units of blood later and she was looking pretty good. They kept her in overnight and I stayed with her, feeding the wee man every two hours to feed. By the time we got to sleep it was Wednesday night.

So, I'm writing this on the sofa at home with the wee man looking up at me as he doses in and out of sleep. He is only a week old and I love him so much. He never cries unless he is hungry ... he just makes strange faces and those gassy smiley faces ... oh, and very, very, dirty nappies ... so we need to set an alarm clock to get him out of his cot to eat during the night ...the wee pet doesn't make much of a fuss.

M is coming around, thinks she can take on the world and falls out with me for being a bastard and making her lie on in bed. She is back to law school in two weeks so needs all the rest she can get ... and why doesn't she take the rest of year out? Well, I asked that too.

I think what happened just served to make me realize that all our connections to each other is fragile at best. I'm really lucky to have my entire family in my life ... as well as my friends. Things have worked out so well for us and while we averted disaster on this one, it was also a blessing in disguise. I learned a lot about my wife and how strong she is and learned a lot about myself ... while I was never so scarred in my whole life I didn't feel at any moment that I couldn't be beside M when she needed me most. Lesson learned. Next time God, what do you say we make it a little less dramatic?

Thanks again.

R.

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