What did your partner want from you during labor? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 11-21-2008, 06:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm kind of crashing the dad's forum, I know, but my fiance has been having a hard time with this and I think a bit of advice may do him well

I'm due in a couple of weeks, and for a long time he's been trying to ask the MW and my mom and his mom what sort of thing is expected of him during labor, and what sort of things I may want. They always give kind of a non-answer, saying "whatever she wants of you", and "tell her she's beautiful and support her".
He wants more specifics, like how exactly to support me and what he will actually be doing. He's been getting really frustrated with the non-answers. He doesn't really have time to read, though I have a Bradley book and an Ina May book. He's been reading when he can, and is starting to feel better about it, but I think it may help him a lot to read specifically what was needed of other dads.

I'm having a home birth, maybe a water birth (if I want to), with my mom, my MW, and the assistant MW there. I expect to be relying on my fiance most, but I don't know exactly what I'm going to want from him.

So give me specifics - were you mostly sitting around waiting for direction? Were you fetching things? Did she want physical contact? Was she able to tell you what she needed?

Any insight is much appreciated
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#2 of 15 Old 11-21-2008, 12:27 PM
 
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This is a really good book: http://www.amazon.com/Birth-Partner-...7280701&sr=8-1 (the Birth Partner). Just ignore all the crap about how important it is to bring a duola. I found it annoyingly preachy in that respect, but lots of good information otherwise.

When my wife gave birth, it was just me, her, the nurse, and the midwife...with my MIL there also it would have been very different. She actually showed up uninvited at the birth center, but was not allowed in during the birth. I don't know what your mother is like, but I don't think I would have been able to be as helpful with her there. I saw protecting DW as getting her through the birth how she wanted to get through it, not in some idealized "oh no DW looks like she's hurting" thing. It's going to hurt if you do this stuff without drugs, best to accept that.

I saw my role as helping with anything DW needed, and protecting her. I knew what she wanted from the birth regarding interventions and so on and she wasn't really in the right frame of mind to be arguing with people. Part of protecting her was getting her to do the hard things the MW wanted her to do, like uncomfortable positioning and so on.

As an aside, my stepmother's mother attended my stepmother's first birth. And she grabbed the baby before my Dad got to hold him. Try not to do that, I think it was somewhat upsetting to him...it was pretty much the first thing he said to me when we were talking about my daughter's birth.

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#3 of 15 Old 11-21-2008, 12:27 PM
 
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My wife was in labor for about 48 hours, so there were different phases, during which I did different things.... but off the top of my head, here are some of the things I did:

-time contractions
-help her with breathing during contractions (counting out loud, etc.)
-fetch food and water when she wanted it
-warm up and apply hot packs on her back
-light touch massage (a good thing to learn how to do)
-other types of massage
-being there for her to hold on to me during contractions
-telling her how great she was doing
-whatever the doula suggested I do! (do you have a doula? highly recommended if it's possible for you!)

But pretty much none of this (possible exception of the light touch massage) was something we had practiced or prepared for ahead of time. It was in the moment, what does she need me to do, kind of thing. I think being there, physically and mentally, and doing whatever seems right and whatever she wants/needs is the main thing.

Good luck! You will both do great!
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#4 of 15 Old 11-21-2008, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input

A note on my mother:
We actually live with my MIL, and will be giving birth in the house with her there, but she is not going the be in the room at all, as she is the overly concerned type and I feel she would greatly hamper the experience. My mother is actually a senior member of MDC, she has had 3 (almost 4) homebirths, two of which were UC. She knows to leave if she needs to, knows what it is like to want no one there and is fine with that. When my MIL said how she was the first to hold her daughter's babies, my mom said she expects that no one will be holding our baby for the first week or two, unless we ask them to. And she does have midwifery training, not enough to be one outright, but very nearly. I know I can trust her in whatever role I need, whether it's crowd control or if the MWs want to do things against my wishes, or just to sit in the other room and wait, or to answer my fiance's questions if the MWs don't have time to explain.
The main reason I want her there is that her energy is a calming influence on me, it helps me a good deal to talk to her and she understands that I need to talk without being judgemental of whatever is causing my upset.
I don't have a doula, but I guess in some ways my mom will be acting as one.
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#5 of 15 Old 12-04-2008, 06:40 AM
 
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Crash course that Bradley book. I know your time together is very limited, but right now this may be a very valuable use of that time. If you want, I can come and guide you guys through it, or we can try to do something telephonically. I do not have any actual teaching materials anymore though.

I'm sorry about the vagueness. It's because it's difficult to predict what any given woman may want/need during any particular labor. Here are some more concrete answers:

Holding you is important (all of these are of course subject to your wanting them); fetching things like your desired drink or favorite pillow, sometimes you just want your partner to fluff your blankets, nobody else.

The one and only very most important thing that he can do though, is to help you to remember to breathe diaphragmatically. It's really easy to forget, and to find yourself in a lot of pain and only then realize that you're breathing fast or chest breathing. So if he can remember to keep his breaths coming from his diaphragm, and to keep them slow and steady, he'll be able to help to remind you when he sees that you're not breathing that way.
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#6 of 15 Old 01-09-2009, 05:01 AM
 
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Tell your husband to be a reassuring rock, a constant source of comfort. Always be there and be attentive to every voiced and sometimes unvoiced need. I think the most important thing is to shower with love and affirm how proud he is of you during the birth and saying other reassuring things. The one thing he should not be is nervous. He must try to be as patient and caring as possible.
I'm glad you are having a home birth. you won't have to go through the modern hospital treatment of birth. We still get angry about that day, and the day of the birth of your child should not be a day you associate with anger.
Good luck.
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#7 of 15 Old 01-29-2009, 06:53 PM
 
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I am not a dad - I'm a mom lurking on this thread but thought I'd add my two cents. Hope this isn't a serious MDC violation!!

Check out that sticky on the home birth forum 'what you wish you had known' or 'what you would do differently' or something like that. I made loads of notes but didn't carry through with many of the ideas.

One of the things I wished I'd remembered to do is to tell DH that he should treat whatever I said as VERY IMPORTANT & URGENT, even if I said it in a faint voice, in a way that didn't 't sound very important. I was laboring in bed for quite a while before getting into the pool, and I asked DH to just lay with me and keep his hand on my back. I don't know why but at the time it was so important to me for his hand to be on my back during the contractions. I was doing hypnobabies, so I didn't want a lot of very vocal or physical support.

But I remember he was constantly getting up and going off to take care of things. Who knows what! I suppose part of the time he was dealing with our puppy and setting up the birth pool, but I suspect he could have stayed with me more. He probably thought it wasn't a big deal because I just didn't have the energy to make him understand how important it was.

Other things he did:

--timed contractions
--set up the birth pool & got the room ready
--brought juice and water
--sat beside me constantly with his hand on my shoulder once I was in the pool and things were getting really intense
--he told me I was doing great like a zillion times
--he helped me by saying some of my hypnobabies cues when I needed it
--let me put my arms around his neck and rest my head on his chest standing up - this is one of the positions we learned in a hospital labor class we did (even though we ended up having a home birth) and it did help a lot
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#8 of 15 Old 02-15-2009, 12:17 AM
 
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Also a mom, but my dh did lots to help. Most importantly, he literally was holding me up while I pushed in the tub. He was outside, and I was leaning against the side with my knees up, and it really helped. Plus he was really supportive when I thought I wasn't making progress. And, he wasn't at all freaked out by anything he saw.

He also made laborade and tons of food, fed the midwives, did laundry, filled the birth pool, and helped the mws with whatever they needed. He held the baby while they cleaned me up, and took videotape and pictures when he could (so did mws).

I should probably be doing something else right now.
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#9 of 15 Old 03-20-2009, 01:15 AM
 
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Another mother here... when I had Rowan, the thing I needed most from DH was for him to BE THERE. The WHOLE time. The worst part of my labour was when, very close to transition, I wanted my hot wheatie bag re-heated (the searing burning helped with the pain) and DH went to do it instead of the midwife. While he was out he decided - not realising how close to transition I was - that as he had barely eaten all day he should go get a pie to keep his strength up. He scoffed it down as quickly as possible and came back, but in the mean time I was completely (quietly and sedately, natch) freaking out that he wasn't there. Which, looking back on things, is kind of bizarre, and it's by no means the case that all women will react that way. But for me, that was the biggie. Later on in labour I had my eyes shut and kept panicking if he wasn't actually touching me, because I couldn't see where he was - it didn't occur to me to open my eyes and look. I'm not that clingy in normal life, really...

I also wanted him to massage me during contractions (lower back and thighs, really helped), hold up scalding hot wheatie bags to my lower back, and... hmm, that's about it, really. Prior to my labour I wanted him to nag me to keep drinking, but during labour that annoyed me.

One last thing... although DH was in general fantastic during my labour and the whole experience brought us closer together, take my advice and do NOT say, after each and every contraction, 'You're doin' good, kid'. No matter how cute you think it sounds.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

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#10 of 15 Old 03-25-2009, 02:50 PM
 
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Another mum here, but the most important thing for my DH to do for me during the births of my sons was to be a solid rock! I needed him to have the confidence and control that I didn't have. I felt so out of control and unsure that I needed him to tell me I was doing well and to not be nervous. Even if he is totally overwhelmed, just having the exterior of 'I can take care of everything no matter what happens' took a lot of pressure off of me On a lesser note, ice chips were awesome too

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#11 of 15 Old 03-26-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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Sorry - yet another mom crashing, but with dh's input. Which is that he felt that he wasn't doing enough for me.

So now for my input. He did exactly what I needed. He was there for me both physically (we "danced" for several hours in the early stages, and I actually delivered dd with my arms around his waist) and emotionally (he just kept telling me how strong I was and how proud he was).

Oh, and he wants me to tell about how I would beg him to "make it stop" during strong contractions and he didn't know what to do so he'd just say "ok, ok" as he stroked my back and I'd thank him when the pain stopped. How could we have possibly planned for that?

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#12 of 15 Old 05-05-2009, 01:02 AM
 
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I used to become a bit indignant that the whole birth thing was about the woman. "Hey, it's my baby too, I'm on a journey, surely there's more to this than 'just' being there for her?!"

After 3 births of our own, facilitating men's birth prep classes, and Birthing From Within mentor training, I've dropped that act and do fully believe that delivery is and should be about the mama. She is going through an epic journey - ours began before it and will continue after it, but labour is not our moment.

Our partner needs to feel safe in order to summon and trust the innate power that all women have to give birth. She needs to feel that her partner is guarding the entrance to the cave -warding off beasts and dangers and MIL's, nurses and unnecessary interventions, noises and cold drafts and anything else that can pull her away from her center of power.

Practically that takes many different forms, but the core approach is to remain aware that it is our moment to be fully in our 'masculine' so that she can be fully in her 'feminine' power. Out of that awareness, the things to do will more or less flow naturally.
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#13 of 15 Old 05-05-2009, 01:12 AM
 
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Rick, dude, I am copying and pasting your post to show my dh for when I get pregnant again. My dh did very well last time, but what you described is exactly how I see what I'd need him to do.

mama to two DD's, 7 and 3 (3 rounds of IVF and more FET's than I can remember)
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#14 of 15 Old 05-08-2009, 12:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Juliusson View Post
I used to become a bit indignant that the whole birth thing was about the woman. "Hey, it's my baby too, I'm on a journey, surely there's more to this than 'just' being there for her?!"

After 3 births of our own, facilitating men's birth prep classes, and Birthing From Within mentor training, I've dropped that act and do fully believe that delivery is and should be about the mama. She is going through an epic journey - ours began before it and will continue after it, but labour is not our moment.

Our partner needs to feel safe in order to summon and trust the innate power that all women have to give birth. She needs to feel that her partner is guarding the entrance to the cave -warding off beasts and dangers and MIL's, nurses and unnecessary interventions, noises and cold drafts and anything else that can pull her away from her center of power.

Practically that takes many different forms, but the core approach is to remain aware that it is our moment to be fully in our 'masculine' so that she can be fully in her 'feminine' power. Out of that awareness, the things to do will more or less flow naturally.
Amazingly well put! Feeling safe is so central to the flow of birth.

I'm a wife/mother and my dh has been very central at the birth of our three children (which have been birth center (1) and at home (2).

I think you've gotten good advice. I'd like to add to be willing to accept that the things you think you want/need during labor may not be the things that you end up needing/wanting. We did hypnobirthing, which was totally awesome for me. One of the things we learned was light touch massage by the partner on the laboring woman. In my case, I found it terribly distracting and I didn't want to be touched at all. Of course, I discovered this in the midst of a contraction, which is not a time when you can really talk. I just put my hand up in the "stop" sign and he stopped and I nodded. I just wanted to hold his hand. I think my husband would have liked for me to have needed him in a more physical way, what I needed most was for him to be there yet be distant. Just that hand bridge between us was all I wanted. That he was sensitive to that was so important to me.

You might want to go over some signs that you could use to communicate with each other if you find yourself so turned within and focused that speaking is hard. (this was my case. I was not in pain, I was so incredibly inwardly focused that speaking felt like it was just way out there in a place I couldn't access)

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#15 of 15 Old 06-21-2009, 01:46 PM
 
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My presence and constant reassurance seemed to be the main things. Also, try to see ahead and be sure things are readily available before they're needed. For example, if my wife hadn't drunk anything in a while and she was out of water, I tried to go ahead and have some ready for when it was needed. That kind of attention helped her stay focused on what she was doing rather than getting distracted with minor needs.
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