So, this is a question that my mom and I chatted about A LOT during my first pregnancy, when she was acting as my labor support in NCB classes because my husband was out of the country. She was also at my DD's birth, both because I wanted her there, and because of her having been there for all the classes.
So, correct me if I'm wrong, but, before the current medical model of birth came in- say a 100 years ago and more- women supported women during labor. Am I wrong? It's not something I've heard about much when they talk about the history of childbirth- everyone knows it used to be normal for midwives to deliver babies in a woman's home, but did her husband help with the birth? Or did her mother and sisters and daughters have those roles, while the father did other things?
In my experience, my DH just wanted to FIX THE SITUATION (which is a very man thing to do, right?). Which is why he thought drugs were such a great idea. I know he has more confidence in me and the birth process now, after seeing me quite ably deliver our daughter without any interventions- but before that all happened- we argued for WEEKS before her birth. He thought I was being selfish and self-centered, because he honestly thought, the birth wasn't just about me- and I needed to have some respect for how it was going to affect other people (him). Basically, it was his way of saying that he didn't want to have to watch me suffer. In the end, he was really fine for the whole thing, and all those arguments were silly. My mom on the other hand had no problem knowing that she would just have to SUPPORT me through whatever I was going to go through, without trying to fix it for me. Now maybe that is the difference between a man and a woman, or the difference between an about to be grandma vs first time dad.
So anyway... my question, which I would love to hear your thoughts on- not a debate per se, but just a friendly exchange of ideas (which is why I'm posting here and not on the debate board)- do you think that a man's place during labor is as his wife's/partner's #1 support?
I've seen a lot of women (having both medical and natural births- ok maybe not, I guess mostly I've seen women having babies in hospitals say this) say that they only want DH and the OB/nurse/midwife in the room. Many women express that a birth is something sacred for a couple to experience alone together.
I know I'm not saying I don't want DH there... I want him there, to witness the whole thing more than anything- but I want women there too. With this next birth we're planning a home birth, and I'm sure we'll have DH, my mom, a good friend of mine, the midwife, probably a doula...
So what do you think on all this?
(and I honestly don't mean this as a debate or a slam against men... it's just thoughts, but I would love to hear what others have to say about it!)
Mara & Joel, 2009
I feel the same way Mara. I feel like the most important people to me during the labor/birth are the women I choose to have there. I am also not saying that I don't want my husband there to see the babe be born but honestly I hardly remember him when I think of my labors. I remember our doula, my mom, the midwives as being my "support team". I feel like it is too hard for my husband to "help" me do anything because obviously he doesn't have a clue what it really going on with my body where as the women I have present DO! I also think he is VERY happy that I have these women "help" me rather than feeling like he has to do something. I prefer him to not even speak during the labor or pushing! lol I don't at all look at him as my #1 support he is just an observer. As soon as the baby is born I am super glad he is there and able to share that time.
Like you I have heard on NUMEROUS occassions people say that they didn't want anyone at the birth but their husbands. To me that is just such a weird idea but each family has their own ideas and I respect that. I CANNOT imagine what my births would have been like with just my hubby present. Especially our first (which was in the hospital). I don't know how anyone could birth in the hospital without a women centered support team but that is just my feeling. With our first when I told my hubby I really wanted a doula present he was very leary about it and I think felt like I was saying he wasn't good enough for the job. The day I went into labor he was SO SO SO thankful that we had hired a doula! He could not stop talking about how great doulas were and how glad he was that we had one!
DS Ethan 1/29/08,
DD Lola 2/2/10
DS2 Weston 2/18/12
I like having my husband there because there aren't many people I would derive comfort from their presence. I don't believe I could get that comfort from a midwife just because I don't have a long history with them. However, if my labours were long a midwife/doula might be more useful because they are more knowledgeable.
My husband was happy to let me call the shots and it worked for us. I have a friend who wanted an unmedicated birth and got an epidural. Her husband knew how much she wanted an unmedicated birth and he kept challenging her. They both ended up being mad at each other.
DD1 July 2008 (41w3d)
November 2010 (13 weeks)
DD2 August 2011 (33w5d)
My mom and I have also had this discussion. She has been an OB nurse/professor/college dean, and my perspective is as a doula. We agree that it is "women's work", for the most part that is. For some women (a minority I would say), the partner is the person they feel the safest with, and the chemistry is undeniable during labor and birth. It just works for them. But for most, they turn to the woman support person (or doula) towards the end. I have had moms bury themselves in my embrace, or grab ahold and pull me to them. It is fascinating. As women, we know the dance. We know the song. And we know the language, often unspoken, of birth.
The partner is just as important, but in a different way, IMO.
Ariel & John: Military Family since May 17, 2006
Sylvia: 12/18/08, Justus: 9/17/10, Bunni: 5/11/12, Surprise Baby: Guess Date 11/5/13
Jumping right in here. I think, for me personally, it depends on the spouse as well as the female coach's personality. My DH was no help at all. The months leading up to my birth he was pressuring me into an epidural to make life easier on him. The day of my labor he was stressed and nauseous and laying on the couch. I told him this time he can wait in the lobby with our parents.
I think my mom would be way too emotional about it and she also wouldn't bee very NCB encouraging. That's what I mean about the coach.
However, I have friends IRL that have amazing husband's that WANT a NCB and have coached them through multiple births. So I think it depends on each person more than it does male/female. In my case - I want to be left alone.
I think that it is incredibly individual.
My first birth I had my DH, my Mom, my Sister and my care providers. ALLLL I wanted was my husband. My sister was actually a bit of a distraction (yes, she is a woman, but she had never been pregnant at that point and didn't know much about birth). My Mom was tripping over herself not to be in my/DH's way. We learned from that.
My second birth I just had my DH. We had a blast. He was amazing, and I treasure those memories.
My third birth I had my DH, a midwife and assistant midwife, and a doula. As it was a very long and very difficult labor, our support staff was wonderful, had great chemistry, and did an absolutely incredible job of supporting us. And by US I mean DH and I. He is and was my rock. It was the most bonding experience we have ever shared, and honestly the beauty and difficulty of that labor changed both of us as individuals, and changed us as a couple. We came out of it feeling like we could do anything. My DH is my best friend, he is who I turn to when I am hurting, be it emotionally or physically, so it was very natural for him to be the person that I relied on most heavily during the most physical and emotional experiences of my life. For all three births he focused me, calmed me, encouraged me, and made me laugh.
If other people have different experiences with their partner or even don't want their partner there that is great too! For me, he was necessary and incredible. I think that the most important thing is the dynamic and the faith in birth itself which creates a good birthing support team. Male or female, as long as the people supporting you love you, and trust birth, you are generally in great hands, IMO.
I think it varies from person to person. In the beginning of our pregnancy, my DH wasn't on the same page as me, but after he was able to express his concerns / fears, we have been on the page since. I'm lucky that he is my Best friend and biggest support. When I told him I wanted to do hypnobirthing, he was skeptical, but fully supports my choice and he is 100% on board to be my support during labour. We don't have any family present and I couldn't imagine not having him there. He was there in the hospital with my M/C and he handled the situation when i couldn't.
I think that as long as a woman has a support team that she is comfortable with, that is all that matters.
I know my mom has asked to come up when I go into labour, but we want it to be about us bringing our baby into the worls. Mom is going to come just after baby is born, so we have a little time to adjust to them ourselves.
I find the 'support' I have been getting from women (other than our moms - who completely respect which ever choices we have made) has been frusterating. It seems like they think their birthing experience is the only type of expreience out there. (like every baby is born the same way). How you HAVE to have the drugs, there is no other possible way. Even if you explain to them your wishes on NOT wanting drugs if it can be avoided, they tell you not to be silly, just take the drugs, take them as soon as you get into the hospital (ARG - One of my biggest frusterations!!!).
Even though DH was skeptical at first about Hypnobirthing / Babies, he's willing to try it before pushing the idea of drugs. He respects my wishes and doesn't have the bias of pushing his beliefs because of his expereince's (like these woman have). I have just stopped talking to women about our choices, because it is disheartening for us.
I think at all depends on the woman and the spouse. I know for me I wouldn't want anyone but my DH by my side other than my mom but most important to me is actually my DH. He was my rock through my labor with DS2. He was there the WHOLE time and even when my mom got there she basically stood in the corner just offering words of support when I needed. I loved that she was there and she will be invited to this birth, as well as a friend who had all of her babies at home. But the main person I want there is DH. But like I said it all depends on the woman and the support that they get from their spouse. If DH wasn't supportive I would find someone else.
DS1-7/18/08, DS2-2/23/10, DS3 1/18/12
Different people offer different support. I can't compare the support my husband offered me with the support my mom offered me. It was so different.
I know my labour would have been drastically different (not in a good way) if my mom and husband weren't with me while labouring.
I would have loved to have my sisters with me too, but that didn't happen. Next time I hope to have them there as well!
Married my golfer 10/2009
Mr. Monkey 09/2010
Mr. Buggy 09/2012