The Innate Role of Fathers in Birth - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 57 Old 06-08-2005, 11:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cmb123
... I think that deep of a mutual understanding between a woman and a male partner is unusual.
wow. how unfortunate.
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#32 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 12:15 AM
 
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Two posters brought up some interesting thoughts. One said that we should go back to "The Red Tent' era births where it's only women being there for the birth, and another brought up how not having the father there sounds like something from the 1950's. Really interesting and got me thinking.

It's kind of a viscious circle. If we don't involve the fathers, they don't know what's going on. The reaction to ignorance is often fear, which leads not to respect and reverence but to disrespect,flippancy and feeling threatened. I think in the red tent days, it was an accepted fact that women had a certain power to give birth. It was their department and men left it to them. It was a Mystery to men, but in a good way. I'm not a historian and if someone knows more about this, please share, I'd love to learn more.
It seems like in the more recent 1950's scenario, men have no respect for the power of birth or for women. And they're scared of, and threatened by it. But hey, they figured out a way to get control of the situation! Enter modern male-centered obstetrics and you have men who love to micro-manage and control every aspect of pregnancy and birth, from telling you how much you should weigh to slicing your vagina to "help" the baby out. Sorry, bit of a rant and maybe lost track of my thoughts a bit. Whew!
Anyway, my point being (I think) that it's dangerous not to include them without explaining to them why. I guess that starts with teaching our children to appreciate the beautiful and sacred gifts of both women and men.
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#33 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 03:00 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Chiromom

The true question I am asking (not that I am uninterested in other dialogue) is: How do we come to the conclusion of what role the father takes? Ultimately, what I am advocating is that the decision or process of deciding/discovering his role be allowed to occur as organically as possible (just like birth itself YKWIM?)

If you look at other cultures, perhaps those that have not evolved "socially" as we have (good?bad?indifferent?) some have chosen to exclude the male from the birth event. Whether its because their ignorance concludes that birth is a "female" thing and should be kept to that sex as routine, or that they believe men's role in birth is not significant enough to warrant participation.
When I talk about "socially" evolved, I consider those cultures who are not socially driven, or "be as the others" mentality. OT, this type of thinking leads to mainstream, follow the heard lifestyles and causes those of us who stray from the path to be viewed as outcasts. Pity our society has come to this...
Back on topic...sorry.
I believe there are so many different factors that guide an individual to consider a partner in the birth experience. Not just social, but emotional, spiritual, historical and even financial. What is important to note is the individual's choice.
Allowing the decision to occur organically depends greatly on the relationship and if both parties are open to the full knowledge of birth. What have they been taught? How do their view the birth experience as individuals, and as a couple? Are the partners comfortable providing the needed support, or would they feel shunned by the womans need for privacy?
If the couple embraced the birth for what it is...natural and beautiful, and without fear, perhaps they would both find the experience mutually benefical.(sigh...if only...)I think this embrace, would lead to the organic path, but only with sound knowledge of its intricacies.

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#34 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 06:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by klothos
wow. how unfortunate.
I don't view it as unfortunate, unless the mother is desirous of something that she's not getting from the father. I don't believe men are meant to be midwives, that is, "with woman" during birth. I'm not saying they should not be present, just that they are different people . They are not women, nor can we expect them to be women, even with lots of classes and training and spiritual connectedness.
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#35 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 10:00 AM
 
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Jeez, reader, I so disagree. I do not even want to think about the kind of birth I would have had with only the women of my family there and no Dp. It would have been the hugest nightmare.
I do think that a loving male partner is the only doula I will ever need. I'm sure that there are some women out there who agree with me.
My Dp, as I said in my pp, was amazing and totally respectful of the birth process. He followed all my orders and helped tremendously to keep the the hospital staff out of my hair and off the midwife's back.
I'm so happy to tell my children their birth stories and include all the bits about "what Dad did to help me birth you".
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#36 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 10:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by reader
I don't view it as unfortunate, unless the mother is desirous of something that she's not getting from the father. I don't believe men are meant to be midwives, that is, "with woman" during birth. I'm not saying they should not be present, just that they are different people . They are not women, nor can we expect them to be women, even with lots of classes and training and spiritual connectedness.
I don've view it as unfortunate either. Not at all. If I had a male parter, I wouldn't send him to classes or training etc..to teach him how to be a woman.

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I do not even want to think about the kind of birth I would have had with only the women of my family there and no Dp. It would have been the hugest nightmare.
Well, that's part of the issue too, really. Our society today doesn't continue to support us having strong female connections,the way women used to. Hence, why we even HAVE things like Childbirth CLASSES, and breastfeeding CLASSES and the like. All things that we as women should already know about by the time we are ready to have children.

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Originally Posted by philomom
My Dp, as I said in my pp, was amazing and totally respectful of the birth process. He followed all my orders and helped tremendously to keep the the hospital staff out of my hair and off the midwife's back.
Same with this part... women should be able to birth without worrying about fending off enemies. The birth environment should be safe and supportive without the need for "protectors".

There are clearly lots of women who have loved having their husbands there. That's great- I certainly am not trying to invalidate your feelings, that's for sure. I just still don't think that males have an "innate" role in birth.
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#37 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 03:47 PM
 
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men have an innate role in birth because they are half of the reason WHY the birth is happening in the first place!

i just view birth as such an intimate, spiritual, personal experience, and i just can't imagine sharing that with anyone other than the person who helped make the baby to begin with.

but maybe i should also clarify... my partner is also my best friend, and i've always felt somewhat distanced from other women. (in a way, women have felt like the "opposite gender" to me...) so these are probably (definitely) coloring my perspective on this...
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#38 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 04:15 PM
 
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I think the answer is: whatever the mom wants. And that might be "leave me alone, I don't want you here right now."
I think this is true, and I also think that the mom (especially a first-timer) might not know what she wants in advance of labor.... I sure didn't. It was important for me to have everyone involved in the birth be really flexible and to understand that I might want to change my mind - maybe other people could plan out their partners' and support persons' role ahead of time. I wasn't one of those laboring women who underwent a change of personality, but I wouldn't have been able to predict how I'd respond either. In the end I was happy with everyone's roles (well, except for my MIL who snuck up to the birthing suite door and opened it in order to listen to me laboring ) but that was only because I felt comfortable telling them exactly what they should be doing.
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#39 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 05:48 PM
 
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I think this is true, and I also think that the mom (especially a first-timer) might not know what she wants in advance of labor....
even those of us (eh-hem, like me) who are fully prepared might realize that, in the heat of labor, they really want something completely different than what they had expected or planned for. i think mamas should be prepared for the things that they can't really plan for, like what they are going to want when they are pushing, when they'll need something to drink, when they want people to rub a certain spot or keep their hands off of them, etc. and everyone / anyone present at the birth needs to be comfortable with just letting the mama listen to her own instincts and give directions... and the mama herself needs to be comfortable with telling other people exactly what she wants.
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#40 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 05:49 PM
 
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men have an innate role in birth because they are half of the reason WHY the birth is happening in the first place!
You could say this about so many things... do men have an innate role in breastfeeding? No one would be breastfeeding if there weren't men to procreate with. But most women consider BFing to be a woman thing -- most of us don't turn to men for help with BFing. Are there exceptions? Yeah. Dr. Sears and Dr. Newman, maybe. But we're talking two people out of billions.

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I also think that the mom (especially a first-timer) might not know what she wants in advance of labor.... I sure didn't. It was important for me to have everyone involved in the birth be really flexible and to understand that I might want to change my mind.
YES. You can't know ahead of time.

Listen, my husband was at both of my births -- he will be at any future births. I'm not advocating a "kick 'em to the curb" attitude here. To reiterate, it's the notion of husband coached childbirth that I have an issue with.
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#41 of 57 Old 06-09-2005, 09:49 PM
 
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You could say this about so many things... do men have an innate role in breastfeeding? No one would be breastfeeding if there weren't men to procreate with. But most women consider BFing to be a woman thing -- most of us don't turn to men for help with BFing. Are there exceptions? Yeah. Dr. Sears and Dr. Newman, maybe. But we're talking two people out of billions.
I didn't turn to anybody for help with breastfeeding, because the women (eg. nurses, lactation consultants, etc.) at the hospital almost made me give it up. For the little help I did get, I turned to a few articles in books and magazine, and I have no idea if they were written by men or women.

I have found, almost without exception, that if I want support (IRL, not here) in my pregnancies and with having my babies, I'd better turn to men. I've never had a man tell me I'm pathetic for having had a c-section. I've never had a male doctor try to talk me into scheduling another section I'm not sure I want. I've never had a man bully me to "get a move on" less than 36 hours after said section. I've never had a man tell me I'm a fruitloop for mourning the fact that I've never given birth vaginally... I've had women tell me all those things.

I don't think men have an "innate" role in childbirth - but I don't think women do, either...except for the labouring mom. I can't imagine a scenario that sounds less comfortable to me than a whole room full of women while I'm in labour. I have a close, intimate relationship with my dh...much closer than to any woman I've ever known. The idea that women are move connected because they understand labour and childbirth has one major flaw as well...it's only true of those who have been through it. I have no idea what it feels like to deliver a baby, and I know many other women who don't know, either - whether because of surgical "birth" or simply because they have no kids. I don't feel that the nature of my genitalia gives me some kind of deep insight into the birth experience, when I've never experienced it.

I don't think my husband should be my "coach" in childbirth - but I don't think anybody else should be, either. If my body's doing what it's supposed to, I really just want emotional support...and I'd far rather have that from someone I have an emotional relationship to, than from a stranger.

I'm kind of rambling here. I think the idea of a return to the "red tent" pushed my panic buttons. I'd find the idea of being pregnant absolutely terrifying if my dh weren't going to be allowed to be there when I had the baby. I'd want him there if I got a degree, if I had to have surgery, if I moved into a new home, if I won a lottery, if I was really sick...all the emotional highs and lows in life. Why on earth would I allow someone to deprive me of his company for something as huge as the birth of our baby???

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#42 of 57 Old 06-10-2005, 12:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Chiromom
[snip]

What is the father's innate role in birth? How can we support men in preparing for this journey without undermining the critical power of their partners? How can men learn and grow through the act of just being there as physical and spiritual birth partners? Do men really just have to *do something* in order to feel okay? Is that enough justification for the roles we give men in birth today?

My husband and I have been having some intriguing conversations about his role(s) in our three births (one homebirth attended and two unassisted) and what HE learned about himself, about me, about being a parent, and about giving up control. It is so different than what we thought it would be. What do you think? What do your DPs think? I really want to know.
Such a fun topic! Something very similar was recently brought up by pamamidwife in another forum and it has gotten me thinking about the deep mysteries of birth. I totally agree with what you've been saying, and what some other posters have been saying, in that birth is itself an organic process. Once I chose to go through my next birth unassisted, I have been astonished at how much "demedicalizing" I've had to do - and I am SOOO not into the medical model/scientific method for most anything! It's a little like the liberation movement by people of color when they called on folks to "decolonize their minds" - once you start to identify the oppressor and how it's internalized, the journey toward self-liberation is exhilarating, difficult, and more comprehensive than one ever imagined. And the end result can be social change. But that's another thread...

I like that you ask what can we do to support male partners' own journey - this is linked to women's own lack of cultural support for birth as a Women's Mystery. I don't think it diminishes the conversation about women's needs for a safe birth environment. Men need their own rituals for birth and becoming caregivers. Period. Our role is to pay attention to our innate voices and urges and directives, communicate and be thoroughly open and ourselves throughout our lives, but especially during pregnancy and birth. Men are even more disconnected from this self-awareness in mainstream Western cultures, thus the medicalized trend to control pregnancy and birth through doctors and interventions. (if it can be measured and reproduced, it must be safe!) Unfortunately midwives can be part of this control of women's birth, too... But that's been covered in other threads.

So to answer your other important question about "How do we come to the conclusion of what role the father takes?" I say, organically, of course! From pregnant women and women in labor. For me, thinking about how do we come to the conclusion that birth is actually both sacred in its implicit physical/spiritual nature and profane in its basic value to our species (reproduction) is important. When we can come to our own understandings of these kind of questions, as individuals and as a culture/society, and when the answers *really* sustain the whole process of self-directed pregnancy and birth, we can answer for ourselves what our individual roles are *for us*. And, once we all start doing that, by default, the society as a whole will support us.

But that's another world altogether... way over the rainbow in my little social change utopia. Wanna join me?
:LOL

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#43 of 57 Old 06-10-2005, 02:53 AM
 
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[QUOTE=Skim]Our role is to pay attention to our innate voices and urges and directives, communicate and be thoroughly open and ourselves throughout our lives, but especially during pregnancy and birth. Men are even more disconnected from this self-awareness in mainstream Western cultures, thus the medicalized trend to control pregnancy and birth through doctors and interventions. (if it can be measured and reproduced, it must be safe!) /QUOTE]
You know, I'm not so sure that the root of over-medicalized births is in men wanting to control birth. (This view may be unpopular here.) I think it stems from an entire cultural trend towards wanting to control nature. We (as a whole culture) want to keep people alive until they're 150, no matter what their quality of life is like. We don't want anybody to ever catch a cold or get a scratch. We want to believe there's a pill or a therapy that can fix anything. We want to blame some individual when something happens (our child trips and falls, a storm knocks down a tree across our driveway, etc.,etc.) It's rampant throughout the culture and I think that modern obstetrical practice is only one symptom of it.

Anyway...I'm not trying to suggest that birth isn't over-medicalized in our society, as it's self-evident to me that it is. But, I think the tendency to blame it on a patriarchal attempt to "take over" birth is a massive over-simplification.

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#44 of 57 Old 06-10-2005, 09:57 AM
 
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You know, I'm not so sure that the root of over-medicalized births is in men wanting to control birth. (This view may be unpopular here.) I think it stems from an entire cultural trend towards wanting to control nature. We (as a whole culture) want to keep people alive until they're 150, no matter what their quality of life is like. We don't want anybody to ever catch a cold or get a scratch. We want to believe there's a pill or a therapy that can fix anything. We want to blame some individual when something happens (our child trips and falls, a storm knocks down a tree across our driveway, etc.,etc.) It's rampant throughout the culture and I think that modern obstetrical practice is only one symptom of it.

Anyway...I'm not trying to suggest that birth isn't over-medicalized in our society, as it's self-evident to me that it is. But, I think the tendency to blame it on a patriarchal attempt to "take over" birth is a massive over-simplification.
You know, I totally agree with you on all points. The control of nature is definitely how the dominant culture views all of our life as a species and our role in the world. What I was trying to get at ended up as two thoughts in one sentence: 1) men are socialized to be even further disconnected from their bodies and intuitions, and 2) medicalized control of our bodies is a by-product of this disconnect by both men and women, because if you actually felt in tune with your own body and the world around you, it is not possible to want to control it, simply because you are better able to see how you/we as part of the whole world *are* the whole world. And you sure can't "control" the whole world!

That said, I do think in our particular variant of patriarchal dominance here in North America, and perhaps in Europe as well, the medicalization of birth is a leftover from the days of doctors trying to gain popularity and professional standing with people before they were trusted as care providers. They marketed themselves as the saviors of women in childbirth back in the day, and I think that attitude never vanished. (this history I read years and years ago, maybe in a pamphlet by Barbara Ehrenriech, maybe not... sorry I can't quote a source. Too many years have passed) This is part of patriarchal control of women, women's bodies, and children. Male domiance is, in fact, a big part of our culture. And yes, to blame the medicalization of birth on patriarchal control is indeed a gross oversimplification.

I also believe it's true that the drive to control nature is part of our fear of death, and leads to a "life at any cost" mentality, inevitably leading to gross end-of-life and beginning-of-life interventions, and a no-tolerance view of abortion/termination of pregnancy without regard to the life of the mother. Ironic, that this life at any cost philosophy happens *at the cost of* real engagement with life, self and world. But now I digress from the OT...


Some of my views may be made more clear in this post, originally a response to a question about the role of fathers at birth by pamamidwife:
The thread - http://mothering.com/discussions/sho...d.php?t=287360

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#45 of 57 Old 06-10-2005, 01:12 PM
 
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well for us, birth is the ultimate finale to an act of love-making. it is a time to connect and welcome the new little spirit... and, as in love-making, the best thing my partner does is make me feel relaxed, and listen to my needs.
Beautifully said.

Mar, I DO read your blog, my friend. I haven't responded yet because:
a) as PPs have stated, how much can you know before it happens, really??
b) C (dh) and I are still trying to discuss it. He wants to catch the baby, and I think that's all he's allowed himself to think about so far. I believe, deep down, he's a bit nervous about how he will be emotionally in the situation.

I have no doubts about the stability of his role in the birth, as he has always stepped up when I allow my needs to be very apparent to him.

This isn't going to be a very deep or philosophical post, as I am still dripping sweat from the walk I took an hour ago. It is apparent to me from reading PPs that the partner's role in the birth totally depends upon the type of relationship between the partners. I can't imagine NOT having DH there. I anticipate feeling very private and intimate about the birth, like you Mar, and I have always ached to share the most private and intimate parts of my life with dh. We just don't have the type of relationship that keeps parts of our existence separate from each other. Others do have that, and that's what works for them. But that would never work for me, not that I feel dependent upon dh or that I don't think I CAN give birth w/o him. Just emotionally and spiritually, I'm not that person.

I actually have been thinking a lot about what if I'm so incredibly off in my guesstimation of dc's approximate arrival that I go into labor while I'm at my mom's house in Iowa for a week w/o dh? The only thing that really bothers me about that possibility is that dh won't be there and might not get there in time. Oh, and a little bit that my mom might get, OK probably get, emotionally wigged out. Then I might call you, Mar, to get your butt up there and help keep my environment peaceful! :LOL

I think, more than his medicalization needing to be debunked, is mine. I'm already overthinking everything. I'm worrying about letting go of all of my education and experience with other women's bodies and allowing myself to slip blissfully into laborland. I'm worried that I won't allow myself to experience the same calm and trust that I give to my patients' bodies.

Some of these are reasons why I'm thankful that I DO have MW attendants for this time instead of going completely UC for this one. I am very lucky in that dh and I have total trust, that I have had plenty of opportunities to ensure our birth philosophies mesh (they are patients so I see them often). I think it gives me an "excuse," to let go a bit, and definitely for dh also, to leave any sort of risk management (like that exists) up to them. And we've already agreed that they won't be offended or argumentative if I tell them to get out of the room! And I love that my prenatal visits are 90% exercises to help dh and I communicate with each other about the pregnancy and the birth and connect with the baby, and about 2 minutes of actual baby checking, which is light palpation, listen to the HB, and I pee in a cup.

What is the hardest about letting go is knowing that my life is NOT natural. I have to make extra efforts and spend extra money to eat whole raw natural organic foods and pure water like my body was designed to utilize. I am subjected to stresses and traumas everyday that I wasn't supposed to have to endure. I still get vertebral subluxations that interfere with my body's ability to function at 100%. The traumas I have endured in my life have facilitated myofascial binding that I know affects my uterus and my hormones and probably every other system in my body to some extent. And I know dh has the same issues - how can we totally let go and let things happen naturally, the way I am designed to be able to give birth perfectly, when I live in a world that has been so destroyed that it is impossible to keep my body constantly interference-free? Thankfully dh and I are both chiropractors like Mar and her dh. And thank God that He loves this baby more than I do.

Ok, the heat is fogging up my brain. Gonna go sit in front of the fan and make funny noises like I did when I was a kid.

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#46 of 57 Old 06-10-2005, 01:54 PM
 
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I've been thinking about this topic a bit lately because my brother came to me to talk about how he wasn't present at his youngest two children's births. He was in the house, but not in the room where they were born. And he had no desire to be there and his wife had no need for his presence. I told him that whatever they worked out between them was fine and he felt better. But he really does feel a huge pressure from society to be there at the births and it made him feel bad that he didn't want to do that.
Instead, he sat in another room and chanted and performed Vedic rituals for an auspicious birth. As soon as the baby was born, he joined them and chanted for the baby as well.

And then there's my births. I don't have the best relationship. It's rocky, at best. Dimitrius has his own personal demons to tackle and has major trust issues. He can sometimes attempt to be very controlling and then he gets extremely anxious about things. But, strangely enough, he's 100% there and the perfect support person during my births. He's the one who fills the birthing pool and keeps it the right temperature. He makes sure I'm hydrated. He takes pictures and video. He holds my hand and lets me lean on him for support. He strokes my hair. And I don't even ask for those things. The midwife doesn't even have to do much of anything except help catch the baby, deal with the placenta, do the newborn exam and clean up. I wish he was like that all the time. I wonder how to channel birth partner Dimitrius into everyday life. Heh.

I agree that men don't have a biological drive or innate role at childbirth. I think it's entirely dependent on the dynamic of the relationship and the needs of the birthing mother. I think one poster made a good point when she said that it's the emotional connection that is important. Not all women feel comfortable surrounded by women. Not all women want to birth without their husband. When I visualized Nadia's birth, it was a birth surrounded by women. She was born into a birthing tub on our screened in back patio in Hawaii with my mom, my younger sister, her 5 yr old daughter, my midwife, her assistant, and my older sister's 13 yr old daughter present. Dimitrius was there too. But he was sitting behind me so I could lean on him and holding my hand so I could squeeze. He was my support. The women were my energy.

One thing though, despite the fact that Dimitrius is such a great birth partner, his attitude is what prevents me from having an unassisted birth. He would worry about things going wrong without someone there (midwife) to tell him things were alright. I would not want to deal with that energy while having a baby. He is anxious person and he is able to be my rock to lean on BECAUSE the other women are present. I really enjoy being surrounded by female energy at my births. I almost feel pampered. But if he weren't there, I would need a nice, sturdy, hard woman to lean on. :LOL
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#47 of 57 Old 06-11-2005, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not advocating a "kick 'em to the curb" attitude here. To reiterate, it's the notion of husband coached childbirth that I have an issue with.

I just want to clarify that I am not advocating "kicking fathers to the curb. " My initial premise was simply that we are creating a specific role for fathers in our birth culture that may not (and in my opinion frequently is not) be the natural or organic role of men. This role has been the attentive father who is not only present for the birth of his children but who is actively "helping" the mother by learning the role of doula or midwife and then performing as such.

Some men are fascinated by birth and feel a deep curiosity and connection to the process. Perhaps they would innately participate as a doula or active helper. Some will want to be present, but do not want a specific role or activity. They will do only what their connection with the mother leads them to do. Which may be nothing more than stroking the mother on occasion and being there to "hold her hand", both literally and spiritually. Some may not want to be particularly present, and that is complete acceptable. It does not mean they do not love and adore the mother or child, they just may either be completely at peace with the process taking place without their imput.

I guess the thing that I rebel against is the notion of father as active helper. In the hospital setting he often seen instructing the mother how to breathe, how to relax, how to move, all based on what he has read or what he has learned in a class, rather than helping the mother find that same information within herself and empowering her. At homebirths I see husbands doing similar things. Again this takes birth power away from the mother, the only one who is really in charge of the event. This all undermines her ability to do what she was so well designed to do. And even in unassisted birth, I see videos and hear stories of husbands acting as midwives and doulas by instructing the mother and checking dilation, supporting the perineum etc...without request from the mother, without cause, simply because we have given men this role. I do not believe it is innate and I do not believe it serves to make birth a safer or better thing.

I believe that the only way we can make birth better, stronger, safer is by returning the power and direction of birth back to the woman. Not *Women*, but the woman who is delivering the child. ALL birth culture gives lip service to this idea, but it almost always falls down in the details: OBs want to "help", nurses want to "help", midwives want to "help", doulas want to "help", and fathers are told to "help" (and often want to) ....but how often is that *help* what is should be: natural, empowering and in her service. At that criticism goes for fathers too.
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#48 of 57 Old 06-11-2005, 11:58 AM
 
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Wow I am so loving this thread.

I just don't have time to say more.

Maybe the answer for men's roles, has to come from within men.

More later,
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#49 of 57 Old 06-11-2005, 12:52 PM
 
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Chiromom: I can certainly see your point about other people running the labour. I was fortunate the one time I did labour in that the people around me mostly just kept quiet. I think they (ex, mom, sister & family friend) were mostly at my apartment, because they were going crazy sitting at home knowing I was in labour and not knowing what was going on. DS was the first grandchild in the family.

My dh will be there for my VBA2C attempt, and I wouldnt' want to do it without him. But, I've already told him exactly what I want from him. I want him to help me refuse medications I don't want (induction, epidural, etc), as I know I'll have trouble doing so myself - and I want him to help me stay calm. My first labour didn't end well - emergency c-section - so I'm definitely a little nervous. DH is better at calming me down and making me feel soothed than anybody else alive.

I just look at things a bit differently. It wouldn't occur to me to think of this as an issue of men's role in birth at all. My issue is with the role outsiders in general take...be they spouses, family members or medical professionals. I'd prefer to give birth with no nurses or midwives present...just a doctor or midwife I can call quickly (from another room, for example) if I feel the need for expert advice. (I don't think I know more about birth than they do...I know my body better, but they've seen a lot of things I haven't.)

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#50 of 57 Old 06-11-2005, 02:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Joyce in the mts.
Maybe the answer for men's roles, has to come from within men.
Good point. I would love to see more men talk about this. I'm going to post in the Dads forum and invite them over to discuss.

Prenatal/Pediatric Chiropractor (Diplomate) , raising the next generation drug-free!
DS - CJ :, the love of my life
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#51 of 57 Old 06-11-2005, 02:56 PM
 
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This is a really interesting thread! Great reading.

Doesn't the presence of the male partner in labor/delivery also depend on the general nature of the partnership? My husband is a rock physically, but can be a bit timid in the face of crisis or stress. It was very important for me to have him present for the birth of DS, in spite of his hmmm...challenges.

We took Bradley classes (I've read Susan McCutcheon's book as well as Dr. Bradley's...I think the classes definitely fine-tune the original concepts, and teach much more than the books can). My husband was the most transparently reluctant dad in our class. The other guys seemed so "into" it, or maybe they were just putting on a good show LOL. But by the end of the 10 weeks, even our instructor could see the transformation in my husband. He was far more emotionally prepared than when we'd started the class.

At the birth, DH was a champ. He was a rock both physically and emotionally. I had an on-call OB, as well as the nursing staff--all female. But to me, the medical staff was just kind of background noise. I really stayed focused on DH's soothing words and voice. I suppose it doesn't really matter WHO mom chooses to partner with her in the birth, just as long as it is the person who helps her feel comfortable.

Oh, and, grandparents were banished to the hallway. Sorry, I wanted only one family there guiding me through the process, and that was DH. To this day, my mom is sensitive about how I was "rude" to her while laboring. She and my dad came in while I was contracting. They threw off my concentration and I ended up vomiting and asking them to leave. I don't see how that was rude. It was me looking out for me.

P.S. My darling husband also dismissed his mom when she came in reeking of perfume. I told you he was a champ.
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#52 of 57 Old 06-12-2005, 10:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband was the most transparently reluctant dad in our class. The other guys seemed so "into" it, or maybe they were just putting on a good show LOL. But by the end of the 10 weeks, even our instructor could see the transformation in my husband. He was far more emotionally prepared than when we'd started the class.

At the birth, DH was a champ. He was a rock both physically and emotionally. I had an on-call OB, as well as the nursing staff--all female. But to me, the medical staff was just kind of background noise. I really stayed focused on DH's soothing words and voice. I suppose it doesn't really matter WHO mom chooses to partner with her in the birth, just as long as it is the person who helps her feel comfortable.

What I am wondering (respectfully and seriously) is if this couldn't have happened anyway, without the *class* ? I think men can create their own *birth experience* and learn their role (on the fly) perhaps better if they go in *clean* of expectation and open to their partner and her needs. Just a thought.
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#53 of 57 Old 06-12-2005, 10:42 PM
 
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Bradley classes really helped my DH, in a HUGE way. No, he wasn't much into the whole practicing helping me relax, but when it came right down to it and I was really in labor, I didn't want his help relaxing. :LOL I didn't want anyone touching me or saying anything at all. Once he realized that what I needed was to be left alone, he did a pretty good job of it. But he was scared - not one-tenth as scared as he was with the traumatic birth of our first daughter. His fear of the unexpected was what made him a less than ideal labor "coach." I can't imagine how much worse his fears would have been without taking the Bradley classes.
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#54 of 57 Old 06-15-2005, 01:16 PM
 
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I think honestly, most men...well my husband anyway...really wants to be involved with the birth in a big way...but like the posters touched on--- has no earthy idea what to do, how to do it, how to be of help and so on, thus creating an environment of helplessness, which sometimes leads to not being of any help at all--- then turns into resentment on the mama's end...it is a vicious cycle!!!!
Captain Crunchy hit on it well. I wanted to help my wife but didn't know how. I think my overthinking and needing to ease her pain annoyed her and distracted her from the birthing process. I also thought to myself she may very well die from the experience cause it was a very difficult birth.

So, I wasn't the coach they thought I'd be. Next time she wants a Doula and midwife. I agree. I'll be there ready for what they need. But as a primary coach, it didn't work out so well.
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#55 of 57 Old 06-15-2005, 07:07 PM
 
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I can't imagine not having my DH at the birth of my baby. I feel safer around him. I feel loved and trusted. We have our issues now and then, but we work through them. He tends to trust the medical establishment more than I do and has some safety fears but is ultimately willing to trust my judgement...and that empowers me.

I don't expect him to be my coach or my doula (I am, in fact, hiring a doula this time). I do expect him to just be there for me in whatever capacity I need and to be there for the baby too, if needed. I think he has a right to be present b/c he is as much part of this process as I am (though I've done the lion's share of the actual work LOL). This is the child we made together, in our love, and I do feel it's natural to have him present...I just dont' feel it's necessary to have him play an "active" role unless it feels right for the both of us.
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#56 of 57 Old 06-16-2005, 03:03 AM
 
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hmm... about the "coaching" thing ~ i'm of the belief that women don't NEED coaching. they NEED to be free to listen to their instincts. and they need support... but they don't need anyone there telling them what to do.
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#57 of 57 Old 06-16-2005, 02:42 PM
 
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I agree, klothos.

I've asked dh to help me stand up to the doctors and nurses, if necessary - I remember, even 12 years later, how easy it was to be pushed into things in labour. Other than that, I've told him I just want him there for support and to help me relax - I'm a very tense person. I don't want him to tell me what to do. I just want him to be there to help me relax while I do what my body tells me to do.

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