Are we asking too much of fathers at birth? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 59 Old 05-15-2005, 11:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Are we basically demanding that a man go against his biological processes during labor and birth by requesting that he coach, be knowledgeable about the birth process, and advocate for us?

I'd love to get feedback on this article: http://www.michelodent.com/news.php?id=10

Keep an open mind, and really try to let go of your own experience and that of what we've been conditioned to believe is "best".
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#2 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 12:14 AM
 
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I wish I had something useful to say. But, all I can say is that the worst moments of my life were when they sent my ex away (to tell me that baby #1 was breech and I'd need a section) and when they sent dh away (to put in my anesthetic for baby #2).

I'd rather give birth with just dh there than with any other attendants. And, while I've contacted a midwife to discuss the possibility of switching caregivers, I'm none to convinced that I want any women there. I'd much prefer to have whatever people have to be around me be male than female.

In fact...if I trusted my body the way some of the women here do, I wouldn't even consider having anybody but dh present for a birth. I really don't know if that's good for him, though...I think he finds the whole thing very stressful.

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#3 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 12:19 AM
 
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I realize this sounds trite but it totally depends on the man. My dh had no reservations, hesitations or baggage and thus was my strength. He was my only "attendant" except during pushing when the mw helped. He was eduated and aware. Otherwise, I may agree that he could have been a hindrance, distraction, etc.

Truly, I believe this to be so true:
Quote:
an electronic environment tends to make the birth more difficult and has no other effects on statistics than to increase the rates of C-sections.
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#4 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 12:55 AM
 
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Wow, what an interesting article. I have to admit, I really didn't want dh around during labor and childbirth. He wouldn't hear of it, however, and so there he was while I was in some pretty compromising positions. I didn't find his presence helpful at all, and it made me a little uncomfortable. I remember wanting female companionship during my labor, and felt kind of abandoned by the midwife and her assistant, who spent most of the time taking notes. I guess next time I'll get a doula and just have dh start boiling water!

BTW, it's not that I don't love him, and I was happy to have him around as soon as dd was out.

I don't know about the loss of intimacy that Odent mentions. It sounds like he's just speaking anecdotally. It sounds a little simplistic to me.
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#5 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 01:01 AM
 
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The only effect on our sex life was that of recovering from surgery, combined with lack of sleep. There was no sign at all of anything else going wrong. Of course, I didn't labour with dd.

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#6 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 01:09 AM
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I realize this sounds trite but it totally depends on the man
I completely agree...but I will say, that if it seems like the numbers are skewed heavily towards husbands/fathers being a hinderence-- I would wager to say that may have more to do with how childbirth is presented in this society...on every television show (the frantic father acting incompetent and nutty) -- the fact that not many men at all are raised with information regarding women, their bodies, how they work etc...

That having been said, I completely trust my husband implicitly and I believe he will be SUCH an asset to me during labor...however...I will admit though, one of the reasons I decided to go against a UC which we were considering (besides that this is our first baby) was that my husband expressed being uncomfortable with being SOLEY responsible (besides me) to bring our child into the world----especially since he has very little knowledge about it (besides of course, these past months of us learning and educating ourselves together) ....and I respect that, so we will have a midwife...

Anyway, nature or nurture, I don't know, but I would err on the side of nurture... I think the biological need to protect your young would lend itself to a man natually wanting to assist to keep his baby alive...though I feel naturally, women can serve women in a unique, special way men can't---if soley due to the fact that they aren't women and can't give birth...but I think it is way more environment and culture than it is biological....

just my opinion! Sorry, I was so longwinded... I was a Sociology major!!

Of course, an Anthropology major would have a different perspective I imagine!!
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#7 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 01:44 AM
 
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I think that in this particular culture, knowing whether the husband is really an asset or a hinderance is impossible. We've taken birth so far away from nature, and we've changed even how our societies are set up in such a big way that there are too many other factors, I believe, affecting birthing women that the husband factor becomes a very minor issue, if an issue at all. Even in a homebirth, midwives are typically hired, but are strangers, not someone of the community that we're deeply familiar with. Our communities are so large, so disconnected. My mother was my midwife for my first birth and everyone at my birth was a trusted friend. Did it affect my labor? Who knows. My husband was there and having him there was the most important piece of the puzzle. He is for me on an emotional level something very different from a girlfriend or an aunt or grandmother, and by that I mean someone I trust deeper. I guess when it comes to my husband, having him there is unquestionable. He doesn't talk. That job, I suppose is very much for the women. What does he know about what it feels like anyway? But he's there just as something to lean on. Someone to fetch things and provide physical support. I don't think it hinders anything. But then maybe this is supporting the article rather than opposing it. I think I'm confusing myself. My head hurts. :LOL

At any rate, I agree that it depends on the guy and also his scope of responsibility during labor and birth. Coaching, I can see, would be a hinderance for sure. Being there as support though is something different.

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#8 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 02:06 AM
 
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I've read this article before and I find it interesting. It's quite an interesting idea but didn't hold true in my case. Some thoughts follow though.

We have lost our tribes. Humans are meant to be a tribal creature. As such there are things that women in a tribe do and things that men do (there are other divisions also, not based on gender) but having lost our tribes, we have lost our tribal relations with others. I do not as a rule feel very comfortable with women. Complex. Lots of reasons. But there it is. I do feel very comfortable with my dh. I needed someone in labor who could understand what I needed without words. With a look or a gesture would know what I wanted and didn't want and get it for me. In a different time and place I would have had women friends who could have done that. I don't though.

I think perhaps we evolved originally to have women around at birth (and no men) as many mammals follow that pattern. However I think our current society has skewed (and ruined) that pattern.

Even patterns have exceptions though. Growing up we had a male cat who was without a doubt a midwife. Every mama cat in labor had him in attendance.... lol.

Interesting reading and thoughts though.

-Angela
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#9 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 04:30 AM
 
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I think Odent has a point. During my first labour (where I was happily, newly married) I didn't want company. Didn't want to be touched, stroked, or be near at all- and my husband of the time got slight criticism, later, from both my mother and the midwives for occupying himself on the computer whilst I was labouring upstairs. The labour was slow, steady, and virtually painless.
My second labour was with my stillborn daughter. He was clingy, I was in shutdown, and the labour was incredibly painful. Admittedly, this is normal for me once my waters have broken (based on labour the third time) but... I don't know. Draw your own conclusions. And with Isaac, whilst it was a faster (10 hours start to finish) labour, it was very hard work- and again, guess who was "supporting" me? This was at the point that the marriage started to degenerate.
This time round, I have a new partner, and I'm planning on having much more support during labour, should I want it. He knows that I'm not normally sociable during labour, and I think he's prepared to deal with it.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#10 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 05:21 AM
 
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Are we basically demanding that a man go against his biological processes during labor and birth by requesting that he coach, be knowledgeable about the birth process, and advocate for us?
Exactly what "biological process" is being subverted by a father's presence at the birth of his child, knowledge about the process of birth (the very process by which he arrived in the world), and advocating for the health of the mother of his child and his child?

We're not talking about nature, we're talking about culture. I think that is an important distinction to be made. We have language, we have culture, we use tools to construct the buildings we give birth in (whether it be a hospital, an apartment building, or a hut in the African bush).

I agree with much of what annakiss said. If it is a hinderance, which I don't believe it is in most cases, who's to say that our culture didn't create this hinderance?

I also hate the "coach" language that permeates the natural childbirth literature and discussion. I don't need a coach. This ain't a sporting event. I need support, not cheerleaders. My husband's secondary job, after providing me with emotional support, was to advocate for me. That included quelching any cheerleading that might have broken out amongst the nurses. Luckily there was none of that crap during my last two births.

I could not imagine giving birth without my husband there. I didn't like for him to talk to me or touch me, but I needed him there. I wanted him to be there to listen to me breathe and just witness what I was going through. He left the room to go pee when I was in labor with my second child and his absence was alarming. I started to panic for the first and only time during that labor.

I'm very, very skeptical of the author's ideas about the effects of seeing a woman give birth on the sexual relationship of a couple.
Today I am amazed by the great number of couples who split off some years after a wonderful birth according to the modern criteria. What is a "great number"? How can one separate the millions of other factors involved into a new life being brought into a family from the birth itself?

More often than not I heard that the father was in bed, because he had a tummy ache, or a back ache, or a flu, or a tooth ache, or simply because he was "drained", as a mother told me. This is a phenomenon I'm completely unfamiliar with. My gut reaction to this portion of the article is just mean, so I won't share it.

I don't think it is possible or even advisable to let go of my own experience. How else could I evaluate this article, or anything else, without taking into consideration my own experiences? What else do I have?
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#11 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 05:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, Mothra. I think that your feelings on this article were similar to mine when I first read it years ago.

However, having men at birth is a relatively new phenomenon - even in other cultures. I am not saying that a man cannot be at birth. What I'm saying is that men think differently from a laboring woman, and in order for birth to move the hormones correctly, she needs to be "lost" basically in her body. Men do think differently in that most are analytical, nervous around things they cannot control, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mothra
We're not talking about nature, we're talking about culture. I think that is an important distinction to be made. We have language, we have culture, we use tools to construct the buildings we give birth in (whether it be a hospital, an apartment building, or a hut in the African bush).
Ah, but see, the biodynamics of birth are not about culture. Every woman experiences the same hormonal rushes, the same shifts in awareness in labor, etc. So, in essence, the nature of labor and birth is not about culture. Culture has bastardized the natural flow of labor, sure. But, I'm talking about the biodynamic, natural, physiological aspect of birth, not about home vs hospital or attended vs not. I'm talking about the fine orchestra of hormones and the role of the primal brain vs the logical, new brain in birth. It's organic, not about societal expectations.

Ideally, if we really want a world in which there is little violence and true empowerment, we'd recognize the perfect system of the body instead of trying to co-opt "indepedence" and "control" through a biomedical way of thought.



Aside from the sexual point of view (which I don't share), I have to agree with what he's talking about. Biologically meaning that I don't think that many men are clamoring to sign up for childbirth classes or really want to read books about birth. I think that is a woman's invention - and requirement of our partners.

I see what you're saying in some ways, but anthropologically and biologically it makes sense.

I also think that perhaps by having the father EXPECTED to DO during birth, we're totally dismissing his own sacred transition to fatherhood. I think that many men miss out on so much because of this idea that they need to be the defender, coach, and person to help create a good birth experience.

Interesting responses, that's for sure. I'm enjoying this dialogue.
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#12 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 05:32 AM
 
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They didn't come close to addressing the primary issue, IMO... which is that in this highly medicalized and often adversarial birth environment, when your partner is likely to be your 'next of kin' and be in the hotseat to make medical decisions for you... there is no choice really, but to educate him and involve him. My DH did a damn good job, alone with me for about 7 hours. The midwife barely got to our place in time to catch the baby. But I cannot honestly say that the situation did not change our relationship... and maybe not for the better.
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#13 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 05:35 AM
 
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pam, we crossposted. I think until we can rid ourselves of the need for a defender it is hard to dispense of the other (possibly forced) roles. No?
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#14 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 05:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kama'aina mama
They didn't come close to addressing the primary issue, IMO... which is that in this highly medicalized and often adversarial birth environment, when your partner is likely to be your 'next of kin' and be in the hotseat to make medical decisions for you... there is no choice really, but to educate him and involve him.
Word.

Quote:
Ah, but see, the biodynamics of birth are not about culture. Every woman experiences the same hormonal rushes, the same shifts in awareness in labor, etc. So, in essence, the nature of labor and birth is not about culture. Culture has bastardized the natural flow of labor, sure. But, I'm talking about the biodynamic, natural, physiological aspect of birth, not about home vs hospital or attended vs not. I'm talking about the fine orchestra of hormones and the role of the primal brain vs the logical, new brain in birth. It's organic, not about societal expectations.
This is true, but it doesn't speak to the biological process of becoming a father. There isn't a biological process to becoming a father outside of the act that preceeds the birth by approximately 40 weeks, give or take.

I'm tired, but I'll definitely be thinking on this more. I think kama hit the nail on the head, though. I think that the father being a part of the birth is ideal for the mother, it was in my case. I think that a situation that allows the father to be a witness to the event and show love and support for the mother is a good development for everyone involved. There will always be exceptions, but I don't think it is inherently a bad thing. We do lots of things in this culture that more "primitive" cultures don't do and they aren't all bad.
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#15 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 05:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by kama'aina mama
pam, we crossposted. I think until we can rid ourselves of the need for a defender it is hard to dispense of the other (possibly forced) roles. No?
oh, totally. I mean, most women - including those with homebirth midwives or even those with UC births - do not really get to experience the pure intuitive sense of giving birth. There are distractions that keep them in the neocortex (new brain).

I wonder, too, if women's inuition is something that men do not feel comfortable with because their "sixth sense" is more about prowess or hunter type of knowledge? It's starting to sound really weird right now because it's so late at night, so I apologize.

But, yes, in today's birth world, we have to make our partners our defenders. Which is really sad because I think so many of them fail at the role according to our expectations. How can a man be expected to take on such a big power like a hospital and doctors? Should he be expected to? Or are we placing women in danger just by having them feel the need to be defended or on the defensive in birth?

We are so far away from true, primal birth. There are so many directors, managers, coaches, and attendants. Surely this impacts "normal" birth - and could be a reason why so many births "need" further interference/interventions.
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#16 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 05:47 AM
 
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Yes! All so true! I gave birth at home and did get pretty primal... which I'm not sure I could have if I hadn't educated the piss out of my DH before hand so I could sign off mentally and say... "Okay: making decisions isn't my job today except for what I want to have happen/ feel in the next 60 seconds." I really can't imagine choosing a doctor for birth.
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#17 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 06:47 AM
 
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I agree with many points. Men are *not* (instinctively, biologically) birthers. Men just don't *get* it on a primal level the way women do. I don't say this in a male-bashing way. I have a son. I love my husband -- he was an integral part of my births -- but in retrospect, I can see that my need for him during labor was mostly about the need for grounding and support (OK, and backrubs and juice).

I agree with annakiss when she said that we are meant to birth with people we know, and often today our husbands are the only person we know well at our birth. We cling to the familiar when we're deep in laborland.

I know that if I had had a trusted doula at my birth, someone I knew well and was comfortable around, my DH would have been welcome, but I would not have leaned on him as heavily as I did. I found him most annoying during labor. He is a good guy, smart and well-educated, wants to help. Took the classes and read the books. But when I was having back labor and needed him to press really hard right *there* on and off for hours, I felt like I was annoying him, which in turn affected me. He is a fixer, as most men are. He wants to make things better. And he has that mentality of, "What can I do? Tell me what I can do to fix this for you! Do you want something to drink? Here, you're hot! Let me see if I can get the ceiling fan to work for you! Dang, the ceiling fan is not working! Well, then I will FIX IT!!!! Don't mind me, I'm just going to fix the ceiling fan here... ignore the beeping. I will have it up and running soon!" That's what I mean. He was well intentioned, but had no primal knowledge of what I needed. I was hot, but I definitely did not need him climbing all over trying to fix the stupid fan.

Does that make sense? It's early here and I'm only on 1/2 cup of coffee.
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#18 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 08:42 AM
 
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My first initial response just to the thread title was 'yes.' Then I actually opened the thread and read it (and the article).

I think it does sort of go back to the fact that we've lost our tribes. When I had ds, I had a doula, but not a paid one. She's one of my best friends, and it was her that I leaned on while dh ran around doing stuff (setting up the pool, etc.). And then my mom was there, and it was my friend's hands and my mom's hands that I was holding and while I wouldn't have wanted dh to leave, I definitely didn't want him 'coaching' me or anything like that. I can't imagine how I would've reacted during labor if he told me to do any particular thing!

My friend who served as my doula is going to be starting midwifery training of some type soon. I'm hoping that she'll be able to be my midwife next time, since I like these nice big birth intervals. And that idea is something I really like - a tribe of 'my people,' even though I did love my midwife this time, she wasn't someone I otherwise knew, she was still someone I hired. I think that if we had a return to more community, more tribe, then there wouldn't be near the emphasis on the father - but I could be wrong.

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and Brigid Eleanor (11/20/08)
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#19 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 09:07 AM
 
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Interesting question. DH was pretty useless at my hospital birth, but I chalk that up to the fact that neither of us were truely prepared for what needed to be done in order to have a normal birth. We were tired, dealing with an induction and just allowed the nurses to take control of the situation. When my epidural moved and I was in terrible pain, I wanted pressure on my back and DH provided it. He kept wanting to do *something else* to fix things, but all I needed was for him to be that rock - just stay exactly where you are and keep doing what you are doing.

And after DS was born, DH did come down with an awful illness. He was exhausted and drained and I just assumed his immune system just shut down (and all those hospital germs!)

This time we are having a HB and I am not sure what I want his role to be. I don't need him worrying about little things, stressing me out. I will have a doula and hope that she can help give him instructions. I think that will make him happy - do this now - kind of thing. But he has never experienced an unmedicated birth and I am just not sure how best to truely prepare him. Even I was not prepared until I experienced with my doula clients. All the reading in the world isn't the same as the real thing. I really do like the idea of gicing him several tasks to do to keep himself busy and so he can feel useful.

This is an interesting discussion though.

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#20 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 09:11 AM
 
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Interesting article.

Personally I was happy to know that I had a willing, participating partner when I was preparing to birth naturally, and i am certainly glad he was there for both of my c-sections, but for different reasons. We discussed a lot of things about birth before hand, like our sex life, the impact it might have on it, etc. He wasn't going to be the only person "attending me" which probably was a big factor for both of us, there was always the knowledge I would have my sister there acting as a "doula" and that I would have a supportive team of women as needed.

For my last c-section, his presence was not nearly as important as my sisters. In fact, he was just an "observer". I didn't want him caring for me at all, I didn't need him there for me, I needed him to observe and take on a different role. When planning this birth, his role is the same, and he has even offered to give up his role for my best friend to be in the OR because she wants to see a "real live" csection badly.

*If* for say I was/do/try to have a vaginal birth, at this point in my life I would want him to be there, but as an observer.
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#21 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 09:19 AM
 
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My dh was a marvelous Bradley dad. He did all the reading and helped me pratice all my new skills.

Did he hinder any of my births? No, his presence was calming and my labors very quick.

Did this affect our sex life? No. We were back at sex within two and three weeks of natural childbirth. If he found me unappealing, he never let on.

Duration of marriage... married 17 years and counting. Bearing children together has made us more of a team, not less.

I tell folks, a well-trained hubby is all the doula I will ever need.
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#22 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 09:20 AM
 
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My own thoughts are that it depends on each individual father.

It is important to respect and protect his participation in the birth of his child.

My own DH, who did feel it was a personal experience between he and I, appreciated those who interfered as little as possible with our experiences.

I would have liked a doula, but at that time, there were none, at least not in my area. My DH says he would not have minded a doula, if she was a doula who has a quiet presence, and instinctive. I know in the short and arduous birth of our third son, he was grateful for the two L & D nurses who acted as doulas, and essentially "held the space", and kept the door shut while I walked around, stood, squatted, etc, never once offering anything in the way of "medical" assistance, no monitor, no drugs of any kind, not even a hep lock. They taped my birth plan to the door and made sure it was followed.

I don't think we are asking too much from fathers in birth, we just need to remember that like us, men are all different, we should not generalize, we should try to be a "quiet presence" and individualize our care to meet the needs of the mama and her partner.

At least that is what I believe...




P.S. His participation did not hinder the process, I wanted him there and he wanted to be there.

Did not change our sex life at all, I think he wanted more. :LOL

He is pretty good at keeping any "reactions" to himself. The birth process does not scare him.
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#23 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 09:48 AM
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Oh and I just wanted to add too, because I have been thinking about this a lot with the upcoming birth of our first baby.

At the risk of generalizing, I will say that I have observed a culture in which women are taught that it is selfish to express their needs, which creates an environment where they don't express their needs...

When we partner, I feel that sometimes (again, just generally) we naturally assume our partners will automatically know our needs, and be able to meet those needs.....yet often times, while the desire to meet our needs is there---our partner simply doesn't know how---whether that is due to simple lack of knowledge, or to their cultural experience of being taught to be *fixers* instead or nurturers (I am speaking of men particularly)...

A very nice online friend of mine and I discussed this early on in my pregnancy and she gave me a simple, matter of fact piece of advice. She told me:

You need to tell your husband EXACTLY what you need and what you want during this labor and don't feel badly for it, or like he doesn't *love* you less for being as clueless as you are. He WANTS to be there for you, but women often will tell their partners---"I need you to be there for me"...and most men are thinking...okay, but what the hell does that mean???

Seriously, I think it is true. I think a lot of men---again, probably societal, maybe biological...need to have expectations clearly laid out...and I have given my husband the benefit of knowing exactly what I need (or think I will need, I have never done this before either!!) ...to me it is proactive, instead of just being like "I need you to love me" ...(or whatever) ...he DOES love me...he just needs to have a general outline of what exactly to direct that love during labor....and I am okay with that.

I think women have a much easier time helping women (in most areas, not just birth) because we are taught that it is okay to be nurturing and hands on and loving...(it begins with our doll *babies*)

Sadly, men aren't often taught that as a rule
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#24 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 11:04 AM
 
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I'll answer first wihout reading the article, in case it makes me afraid to answer.

My answer is YES. I think it is completely crazy to suddenly expect men, after so many years of evolution going one way, where birth was a female-guarded experience, to suddenly jump in there and know intellectualy and instinctively what to do.

With every birth my instinct was for my husband NOT to be there, but what I was "supposed" to do was somehow expect him to be a fabulous labor coach and partner.

My opinion is that the fewer men (including OB and medical types) who are around a birthing woman, the better.
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#25 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 11:09 AM
 
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oh-- but let me add-- I think the presence of a husband/ partner is vital in the hostile hospital atmosphere. Husbands can be useful if the woman is being mistreated in the institutional setting, functioning as an advocate for her. It can be very scary to be in a hospital alone, surrounded by (male and female) strangers.

but that's a different issue altogether.
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#26 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 11:09 AM
 
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This is a very interesting conversation!
I truly think it depends on the man. I've attended births wehre the dad wanted nothing to do with anything and was greatful I was there to births where I played almost no role because of the father himself. I, personally, do not think it is always impairative for the father to be present for the birth. That's not quite what I meant, let me try again: I think that powerful things happen when a baby emerges and for those moments, I don't think it's so bad for a dad to be there. For labor itself though, I don't think it is necessary for him to be a part for it to be a "normal and good" experience for everyone else involved. I think there are plenty of couples that are strong and "together" that labor and birth beautifully together.

ON many levels I do think we ask far too much of our children's fathers when we ask them to attend births. My husband is the one who advised we get a doula for our first birth. He didn't know what to do and one of the first reasons he cited is because he wasn't a woman and women instinctively know how to care for women. Does that mean he was uninvolved? No, he was exactly as involved as he needed to be. Yes, I joke about how he took a 2 hour nap while I was up walking the halls of the hospital. You know what though? That's exactly what he needed to do to help the birth process along. I was surrounded by women (my mom, sister, and doula and intermitantly a fabulous nurse) and my DH was doing his part in his own way. I was never concerned about him missing the labor, only the actual emergence. I absolkuytely wanted him there but only as much as he wanted to be. Same the second time around. He did what he knew to do and wanted to do during the labor. FOr the emergence, he caught the baby, which he now advocates that all fathers should do

As a doula I sometimes feel uncomfortable asking fathers to do things. Some are very hesitant even though when I meet them prenatally they are very gung-ho "get me in on the action!". It's one thing to say it and quite another to be there in the moment. Most dads seem to know beforehand what role they want during a birth. Some seem rather conditioned to being there. "Of course I'm going to attend my wife's birth, where else would I be?" they say with their eyes when I ask if they plan to attend. Something that seems to work well as a bridge is to find tasks for the dads to do, which is anthropologically speaking a natural thing to do. What I mean by "do" is I find him errands to run, small tasks to accomplish that don't necessarily involve backrubs or labor dancing. They are all willing to run out and get more water or juice, freshen a rag to put on a mother's head, light another candle or two...those types of things.

I know I'm getting a little long... This is one topic I think about quite a bit actually. I think that if a dad is willing to be at a birth, that's fantastic. I don't think that we as a society should make him feel bad for attending or not attending, and we seem to do both. It's conditioned into us over the past few decades. With an increase in the numbers of women seeking doulas, I think that we (as a society) are little by little saying how we want women to attend us when we birth. Dads can be there, but we want women to tend to our needs. I don't think it's a bad thing for dads to be there, to be involved, I just hope they are comfortable with what they are doing. Oh, one more thing: I do think that if we are going to have dads attend births we collectively really need to support them more emotionally beforehand and afterwards, make sure they are fine, "mother the father" so to speak.

Namaste, Tara
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#27 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 11:40 AM
 
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The things I hear over and over are that dad wants to be there, but when mom is actually laboring:

1) Dad panics.
2) Dad is unable to see his wife in pain.
3) Dad sides with the nurses or doctors- against what mom wants.
4) Dad is supposed to run intereference, but doesn't.
5) Dad spends the ENTIRE time running interference, and isn't able to support mom.
6) Dad tries, but does all the wrong things.
7) Dad doesn't listen to mom.
8) Dad isn't flexible/ can't deal with a change of plans.
9) Dad is frightened by the birth.
10) Dad is disgusted/ grossed out by some aspects of birth.

I very RARELY hear of a good experience- even with friends whose partners were very involved, and did a lot of prep before the birth.

I don't know why that is. I hesitate to say that it is inherant in being male, and not understanding birth. Because to say so would also negate women who have not birthed. And I think there is more to it than such a simplistic explanation.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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#28 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 11:42 AM
 
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I totally agree with philomom. I had a bradley-style birth ( I call it Bradley-style because we didn't take classes, but did read and practice from the McCutcheon book), and the midwife and nurse at the birth center agreed that DH would make a great doula!

His calm voice in my ear was exactly what I needed , and we had a fabulous birth. I do think in some ways he was working harder than I was, since I was concentrating on relaxing and getting out of the way of my body doing the work, and he was noticing all the things that were going on, rubbing my back, talking to the midwife on the phone, etc.

We are planning on having this birth be as close to the last one as we can manage it.
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#29 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 12:11 PM
 
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Quote:
The things I hear over and over are that dad wants to be there, but when mom is actually laboring:

1) Dad panics.
2) Dad is unable to see his wife in pain.
3) Dad sides with the nurses or doctors- against what mom wants.
4) Dad is supposed to run intereference, but doesn't.
5) Dad spends the ENTIRE time running interference, and isn't able to support mom.
6) Dad tries, but does all the wrong things.
7) Dad doesn't listen to mom.
8) Dad isn't flexible/ can't deal with a change of plans.
9) Dad is frightened by the birth.
10) Dad is disgusted/ grossed out by some aspects of birth.
That's something I do a lot at a birth, help dad be okay with what is going on. It's hard to see someone you love in pain, especially if they know that that person doesn't want you to do anything to stop it (i.e. give drugs). Daddies need doulas too
Namaste, Tara
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#30 of 59 Old 05-16-2005, 12:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kama'aina mama
Yes! All so true! I gave birth at home and did get pretty primal... which I'm not sure I could have if I hadn't educated the piss out of my DH before hand so I could sign off mentally and say... "Okay: making decisions isn't my job today except for what I want to have happen/ feel in the next 60 seconds." I really can't imagine choosing a doctor for birth.

Yes! Yes! Yes! I agree with this sentiment entirely!

I loved being able to dialogue with my husband for the duration of my pregnancy and explain to him--if this happens, then THIS. If this happens, then THIS. When it was time to labor primally, I was totally "in the zone" and he was there to protect my space.

I agree that it is sad that he had to do that, BUT HE DID HAVE TO. I needed to lose myself in the workings of labor, and unfortunately, I was in a hospital. (Risked out of HB, but not this time )

He did a stellar job, but if he had been anyone else, or I had been, things would have been different.

Now that I really begin to process it, though, I wonder if he knew he had any other option than to be who he was for me. Hum.
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