It is nearly a year since I had my little girl, and I’ve been thinking a lot about my birth experience. It was far from the birth experience I wanted. Going overdue, and being induced, meant that I could no longer have my perfect water birth just like my birth plan said. I can barely remember the 3 days in hospital before having my daughter by c-section. Sometimes I get a little flash back when reading or hearing someone else’s birth story. So I decided that I would create a series on my blog dedicated to the partner’s view of our birth experience.
Often during birth the partner’s feelings and thoughts are overlooked, and then never discussed together afterwards, which I believe is vital for you to understand the full picture of such an important event in our lives. To introduce the series I have interviewed my husband in the hope that it helps to brings back what happened during and after the birth of my daughter.
1. What were your thoughts and feelings leading up to the birth of your child?
On finding out we were pregnant expecting our first child was initially quite a strange feeling, one of those life affirming moments…buying you first car/house…getting married, but expecting a baby to be introduced to our home seemed to top the lot. In the months leading up to my daughter’s birth, I politely smiled and nodded as well-meaning people kept trying to prepare me for fatherhood by telling me the same tired cliches: “Say goodbye to your social life!” or “Get plenty of sleep now, because soon you’ll be wishing you could.” I was really excited to share in the pregnancy and plan for our new arrival.
2. As a birth partner, how did you prepare for the birth?
As this was our first baby I was determined to give Claire as much support as I could during her pregnancy. This included attending all of the scans, helping out a bit more generally at home, and giving lots of back massages from week 30 onwards!! As D-day got a bit closer, I attended the NCT classes with Claire. It was only from attending the NCT classes that I realised just how many ways in which the delivery of a baby can be done, I felt a bit overwhelmed and kind of silly that I didn’t know half of the stuff being discussed, quite a lot of terminology I hadn’t even heard before. I didn’t fully appreciate what a big deal breastfeeding is for mum and baby! The NCT classes touched on the emotional side of things which I hadn’t appreciated and the fact that my role as husband/birthing partner was so important. This all helped me feel more a part of the process and connect more with Claire during the latter stages of her pregnancy.
I also found a lot of useful information from the emails I signed up to from the baby-centre website and even found myself googling some of the symptoms my wife was having during the latter stages of her pregnancy to get myself up to speed with what she was going through (even finding myself on mumsnet to see what was being discussed in the forums some internal searched threw out).
We both went to the hospital to the open evenings to see the birth centre and some of the delivery rooms. Good for asking some of the practical sort of questions and finding out where to go when the big day happens.
3. Tell us a little about your partners birth?
We went over our due date by 2 weeks and so were booked in for induction. Induction day came and off we went on a Sunday evening to the hospital. Excited, eager, worried, agitated, mainly excited as we were getting closer to meet our baby girl (we had found out the sex beforehand). Little did I/we appreciate that how long this process can take…72 hours of varying degrees of labour, one pessary, 2 injections of pethadine, 12 hours of self-administered epidural pain relief later, on the following Wednesday morning our baby girl was born via C section. The talks regarding natural births in the hospitals birthing suite in a pool seemed a distant memory.
During all of this time in the hospital there was obviously lots of consultation with doctors and midwifes, who all kept us well informed and gave us every opportunity to deliver naturally. In the end the C section became the clear correct choice as our baby was not in an ideal position and as meconium had been detected in the waters it was a case of making the correct choice for the health of the baby.
4. What were you most afraid of during your partner’s birth?
I was most afraid for the health of Claire and baby. Nothing seemed to be going to plan at all during our birth so towards to end it became very stressful. The comfort we did have was from the calmness of the doctors and midwifes and the fact that throughout all the drugs and length of time, the baby’s heart rate remained constant and stable. I remember each evening just looking at the monitor and listening to the beeps of the heartbeat as Claire was trying to get some rest.
5. What was the best and most positive part of your partners birth?
Has to be when my baby was handed over to me in the theatre after the C section, seeing her eyes for the first time blinking and her hands doing that curled up baby wave, then leaning nearer to the bed to show Claire as she was lying down. There was a moment as Claire was still in theatre that I shared with the baby in the next room (aptly named the recovery room!!) where we were able to say our first hello’s. The proudest moment was then sharing the news with our parents, close family and later on friends.
6. How did you support your partner and baby after the birth?
As Claire was in obvious discomfort from the c section I was eager to do all that I could to help out, this meant being by her side constantly and attending to baby when she needed feeding and changing. When we eventually got home I was determined to do everything I could for Claire and baby during my 2 week paternity leave from work.
7. What advice would you give to a birthing partner?
Prepare well both in terms of what to expect and in practical terms.
I found attending NCT classes and reading up on the birth were useful as when we were in discussions with the doctors regarding processes, and drugs etc that you don’t get lost in the terminology and are aren’t overwhelmed when you get there. In practical terms, lots of coins for car parking meters, vending machines, coffee shops! Also talking though what your wife/partner wants from the birth so you can support in the decision making and remind them of their initial plan.
It was so nice to receive the response from my husband, it’s amazing to see the story from the other side and to look back on our birth experience. I hope you enjoyed reading.
If you would like to take part in my series, then just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org