Should your Partner View the Birth?

Every man is different, as are every set of eyes.  How your man will respond to seeing the baby born from a front row seat is dependent on a few different variables.  Should he view it, or should he stick by your loving smile?  Here are four questions that will answer yours.

  1. How’s his stomach?
  2. How’s his comfort level with your sex life?
  3. What’s his role in the birth?
  4. What does he want?

For the first question, it’s a simple matter of how good he is at holding his lunch.  He is going to see a side to you he (a) didn’t know existed and (b) wished he didn’t know existed.  He will see your hoo-haw stretched across the room and, quite possibly (though not necessarily), excrement making its way out, just underneath.  The gross-out factor may take away from the joy of the moment, or he may be able to shrug off those feelings for the thrill of seeing his baby arrive into the world.

What does this have to do with your sex life?  Two men were asked how they felt about viewing the birth of their child.  One said it was the most wonderful thing he’d seen.  The other man said he had a hard time having sex with his wife for a whole year after that.

Question three may just take care of the situation all together.  Birth isn’t always how it is on TV (can you believe it?)  In many cases, the man has a job to do, in addition to holding your hand and saying “breathe”.  Oftentimes, the man will share the job of the nurse.  Each of them will hold one of your legs as you push.  Though he may be able to peek his head around to see the action, he may be too involved with being the leg-carrier to get to see the show.

And the final question to ponder is whether or not he wants to.  Because of questions one and two, this should be his decision to make.  And no matter what decision he makes, he just may change his mind at the last minute.

When it’s all said and done, no matter what he saw, he’ll think you’re a goddess… his beautiful, magnificent, heroic, kinda gross goddess.

Top 6 Tips For Creating a Birth Plan That Works

As you draw closer to your due date, your caregivers might have asked if you have written or created a birth plan.  A birth plan is a communication tool that is used by everyone involved with your labor and the birth of your baby.  Your birth plan effectively puts everyone on the “same page” when it comes to you and your partner’s preferences regarding the different options available to you during the course of your labor, birth and even after-care of your baby.

Why write a birth plan?  First, it allows you and your partner to get in sync with one another before your baby’s birth.  Creating a plan will give you a chance to bring up any fears, strong desires, etc. that you may have not talked about up to this point.  It also allows you to create a “team approach” with your caregivers.  More than likely, different people involved with your labor, delivery and aftercare.  As new caregivers join in to assist you, they will be able to know your preferences no matter what stage you are in.

Of course, a birth plan is not a set of orders to be followed, but it does give you reminders as to what is important in an ideal birth situation.  To get started, make sure you and your partner have some time to talk about your ideal birth story.  Read up on the subject and/or take a childbirth class with your partner so that you are aware of all options available to you.  Once you have a rough-draft, schedule time to review your birth plan with your care provider.  They can suggest any changes based on hospital guidelines, etc.  When your final birth plan is complete, make sure that you have copies for yourself, additional support persons/doula and your caregiver.  It is also helpful to pack an additional one in your hospital bag for the caregivers that will be attending to you.

A birth plan should include the following:

  • You and your partner’s names and baby’s name if already selected
  • A brief list of your strongest preferences during the labor process, including lighting, music, visitors, conversation with caregivers, etc.
  • Your preferences for managing the pain of labor.  Notify the care staff if you intend to labor without medication and what kinds of other tools you would prefer to use to deal with the discomfort.  If you remain open to using pain medication, specify at what point you would like to be offered pain-relief options.
  • Your preferences during the birth/arrival of your baby.
  • Indication of whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding the baby
  • Any newborn care preferences. You should also include the baby’s pediatrician name and number here so they can be contacted to arrange for a baby check up.

Your birth plan will be best received when it is kept short and sweet.  Too much wording is hard for caregivers to read and discern what is truly important to you.   Short and direct sentences or “bullet points” allow all of those involved to quickly reference your preferences at each step.  Keep in mind that a birth plan are your wishes under normal birthing circumstances.  Labor is unpredictable and the birth plan should not be a list of orders that restrict the caregiver’s ability to keep you and baby healthy.

Not sure where to get started?  There are some great birth plan templates available on the web to choose from.  Because they can get lengthy covering so much material, it is a good idea to print one out, make the selections you desire and then type those preferences to create your own birth plan.

Related Podcasts:

Is Labor REALLY as Painful As Everyone Says?: A Single Effective Strategy for Coping With Pain

American pop culture– sitcoms, TV talk shows, and Hollywood movies, in particular—all tend to portray labor as the single most painful experience a woman can ever have. The pain is depicted as both inevitable and total, best dealt with by taking a generous dose of a drug that will dull the pain and make it bearable.

It’s all rather anxiety-producing, especially for a woman who will be giving birth for the first time.

In the months leading up to the birth of our daughter, Mariel, my husband and I watched one documentary after another about labor and delivery. I wanted to try to understand exactly what I was in for, and whether any alternative experiences of the birthing process were available. The goal wasn’t to deny that giving birth was painful; rather, it was to learn how the pain could be managed in a way that wouldn’t overshadow the singular moment of being present to bringing our child into the world.

It was helpful to watch “The Business of Being Born,” “Orgasmic Birth,” “Gentle Birth Choices,” and “Birth Without Violence,” all of which portrayed women responding to pain without drugs– and seemingly enjoying the process. I spent an hour thinking about how one particular woman in “Orgasmic Birth” could have seemed so…well, orgasmic. Her ecstasy in labor was utterly contrary to everything I’d ever seen about the pain of giving birth.

And yet, I was under no illusions that the head of a child squeezing out of a comparably small birth canal would not be painful. “It’s called the ring of fire for a reason,” said the woman who taught the birthing classes we attended a few months before Mariel was born. “But,” she continued, “there are natural ways to decrease the pain, and they’re really effective—maybe even more so for some women than an epidural.”

You could almost hear the “sure they are” retorts echoing in the room where women in various stages of pregnancy sat on pillows and leaned back on their partners’ legs. But all of us were in the class because we intended to give birth in a birthing center rather than a traditional labor and delivery ward, and this meant that we were voluntarily foregoing any interventions like an epidural. In other words, we had to give these natural pain management techniques a try.
The teacher walked around the room with a cup of ice, and placed a cool square cube in each woman’s hand. She asked us to be present to the feeling of the ice cube in our hand, and over the course of a minute, I experienced a searing pain that seemed to dig deeper into my palm with every passing second.

“Stop,” the teacher called after a minute. The collective clatter of cubes hitting the wood floor could be heard, followed by sighs of relief and several of us wondering aloud how an ice cube in our palm could be so painful.

The teacher smiled, didn’t say anything, and circled the room with another round of ice cubes. “This time,” she said, directing her instructions to our partners, “I want you to be present to this pain with her. Rub her shoulders, run your fingers through her hair, talk with her, encourage her.” She looked at her watch again. Each couple retreated into itself, the intimacy of encouragement between couples making a low buzz. “Time,” the teacher called. “That wasn’t even 10 seconds!” I said, almost protesting. She laughed. “It was a full minute, just like the first time.”

Again, the cubes dropped, but the remarks this time reflected a similar perception shared by all the women– the full minute had seemed like only a few seconds, and those seconds were totally bearable.

“Labor,” the teacher explained, can be just like the ice cube in the hand. If you’re totally focused on the pain the ice cube is causing, then you’re going to be attuned to the pain. But if you have someone with you to provide active support, then the pain becomes manageable and the entire experience is usually more pleasant.”

As I labored and pushed our daughter into the world, my husband on one side of the bed and my mother on the other, I thought about the ice cube melting in my hand. Yes, I went through the ring of fire. Yes, the birth was painful. But this single coping strategy for managing that pain was extraordinarily effective. It just doesn’t make for nearly as dramatic a story as a Hollywood movie.

Related Podcasts:

VBAC Is the New Black! Why VBAC Is Making a Comeback

One of the mommies featured in our Pea in the Podcast on VBACs is pregnant again! Yay! Kim’s story of her succesful vaginal birth after a c section is inspiring, and here’s hoping she has another successful VBAC.

If you’re interested in trying for a VBAC, the International Cesarean Awareness Network website is loaded with information for you, including a checklist that will get you started.

But of course the first place you should go is to Pea in the Podcast to hear Kim’s story. I would be proud of her even if she hadn’t been one of my best friends since second grade! :)

To be clear, if Kim has another c-section, that would not be the end of the world. I will be just as proud of her. Having a healthy baby is the most important thing, no matter how they’re delivered! Sometimes a c-section is necessary. That’s how my girl got here!

If you’re pregnant for the first time, VBAC is not one of the millions of things you will have to consider before your baby’s birthday. However, you may want to prepare yourself for the possibility that you might have a c-section, no matter what you’ve planned (I planned a peaceful natural childbirth, in dim room with soft music and liberal use of the birthing suite’s jacuzzi tub). To familiarize yourself with what would happen should you end up giving birth to your baby with the help of a surgeon, please check out our Pea in the Podcast on cesarean sections.

-Bonnie