So, you’re a father-to-be reading this to see what it’s all going to be about. Or perhaps a mother-to-be and just seeing what the hell this guy thinks he knows about childbirth. Or maybe you’re just some person who randomly likes to read blogs about childbirth. Maybe I should just stop guessing who you are and actually get to writing about this topic. Good idea.
For the men out there that are bracing themselves for the day your partner goes into labour, then know this: It will be the worst thing you will ever watch your partner go through. Not just because it’s utterly ridiculous how painful it looks, and dare say actually is, but there is nothing you can really do about it. And for a lot of the time, you won’t even feel like you’re wanted or needed there.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking to be the centre of attention at this stage, the birth is all about the mother. I’m all up for equality and having the father represented a little more when it comes to babies, but this moment is all about them. But the fathers are still there. We still have a role, even if it is a very limited one. I’m just here to talk about, and possibly impart, some advice for the future dads-to-be that are waiting for that day where all hell seemingly breaks lose.
Watching your partner go through that much pain is genuinely horrific. For us, right at the latter stages of the pushing stage, Isabelle brought the cord down first, something called cord prolapse, and something that we had no idea was actually a dangerous thing. Within seconds I was pushing the emergency button and we were suddenly being rushed down to theatre with urgency. I had no idea what was going on. I merely trailed behind wondering what to do. I was dragged along by one of the midwives, and rammed into the elevator to make our way down to theatre. The next thing I know my partner is being surrounded by doctors, midwives, and god knows who else as I sat off to the side feeling like I shouldn’t even be there. A million things rushed through my head, and I really, really just wanted to get out. I don’t deal with a lot of things very well, and in this moment, I wanted to be swallowed up by the world and transported anywhere else.
But I had no choice. My wife needed me more than I needed to be alone. I stood there holding her hand, and trying desperately to hold back tears. The staff kept telling me that things were ok, clearly seeing my concern, but they just really needed to get the baby out. What came next will always stick with me. Due to the urgency, there was little thought given to pain relief. Yes, they injected my wife with a local anaesthetic ready for the episiotomy, but there was no time for it to take effect. Instead, I simply watched, or rather listened, as they cut my wife and tried to get her to push. Eventually, they resorted to the ventouse (not going to lie, I looked that up as I was going to use the term “suction cup thing”), and finally they managed to get the baby to come out. After that moment, my wife’s face changed in a matter of seconds from agony to extreme relief. Just like that, there was no more pain, no more screams, at least not from her, all of it was replaced with happiness. And maybe some soreness, I imagine things were still a little tender.
But all you can really do throughout the labour is be there. You’ll have to be her punch bag, for both physical and verbal abuse, her therapist, her feeder, her fetcher of cold drinks, her comforter, and her masseuse, lots and lots of being a masseuse. My wrists were dead by the time I’d finished with all the back rubs, but did I complain? Not once. I played the hero and kept going. I didn’t even think about stopping. Ok, enough about me.
You just have to be whatever your partner needs you to be. And leave your ego at the door. You will probably get abused, but you’ll take it. She’ll smack your hand away when suddenly she doesn’t want a back rub anymore, even though she abused you for not doing it. But you’ll have to take it, and carry on. Whatever happens to you, they are going through so much worse. But once the dust has settled, and you have your baby, they’ll thank you for doing all that you could.
But after the birth, make sure you talk about it if it plays on your mind. It can be traumatic, and many people can be negatively affected both by giving birth or by simply watching it. If you feel like it has affected you then please talk to someone about it. Tell your partner about the birth and keep going through it, talking about what emotions you felt as they surfaced. It might be hard for the two of you to relive some of what happened, but it needs to be done.