Monday 15 April 2013

Dad's on Delivery!

This morning I received a phone call from my local BBC Radio asking if I was available to be interviewed for a report that they were compiling on dads being present at the birth of their children. According to research a growing number of fathers are now suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after witnessing their partner go through childbirth.

Lottie and Ruby

50 years ago dad's to be were not allowed to be present at their children's birth and were either left at home awaiting a phone call or left in a corridor awaiting the news that their baby had been born; fast forward to the present, and most dads want to be included. The birth of a baby is a magical time for both parents, so why should a dad not be included, the baby is as much the mothers as it the fathers.

During my pregnancy with Ruby we paid for some private antenatal classes; I would like to say they were worth the money but to be honest I don't think they were. I was aware that giving birth doesn't always go to plan and sometimes complications can and do occur, some with warning and others without. The classes I attended were all geared for natural normal births followed by breastfeeding; whilst this is ideal and what the majority of mothers want, it doesn't always go that way. When asked during one of the sessions what we would like to discuss in future sessions I raised the issues of bottle feeding, cesarean sections, instrumental deliveries etc, the teacher tried to ignore what I was saying. I personally wanted to know what could happen so that if it did, I was prepared and could feel in control. I believe knowledge is key and having all the information and facts, helps me to make an informed decision. Is that just me or do other people want to know what could happen?

During both of my daughter's births I was very blessed to have had a midwife caring for me who kept me informed and explained every little detail about what was happening and why; she was also fantastic at helping to keep hubbie informed too. I could not have wished for anyone better to deliver my daughters, she will forever be held in high regard in our household.

Phil with Ruby

My hubbie Phil has been my rock and there was no question about if he should be at the birth of our daughters, it was a given. Prior to Ruby's birth we had talked about labour, what it would be like and what could happen etc. I knew when I asked for an epidural, Phil would probably need to leave the room as he really does not like needles; I was absolutely fine with this. It is only recently that he told me he actually went down to the business end and saw Ruby being born! During my labour Phil kept me calm and helped me to feel in control in what was an unfamiliar environment. After Ruby's birth he cut the cord and held her whilst I delivered the placenta. I delivered Ruby early afternoon and the doctors wanted to keep me in overnight; I was not keen on the idea and the only way that I agreed to stay was if Phil could stay with me. As a family of three we spent our first night on the delivery suite together. Why should dads feel pushed out? I strongly believe provisions should be made available for dads to spent time with their babies in the first few hours, its a time that you can not get back.

After Ruby's birth Phil and I worked as a team, Phil would do the majority of the night feeds as I was feeling very tired and I would do the day feeds; Phil was able to do this as Ruby was bottle fed; I believe having this quiet time at night with Ruby helped them to create the strong bond that they have today. Phil seemed to bond quicker than I did first time round, I don't think I really knew how much of an impact a baby would have; I was also still recovering from the trauma of Hyperemesis and giving birth.

Fast forward 3 years and I was pregnant again, this time I had a planned home-birth; Phil helped me to plan  everything and gather together what we needed to make it happen. During my labour Phil ensured that I always had a cup of tea! They were the best cups of tea I've ever had, he even made them in a cup and saucer! After giving birth to Lottie I cut the cord and we spent time looking at the placenta, having parts of it explained to us; for us it was not gross or disgusting but an organ that was so amazing as it had kept our daughter alive. It was amazing to get back into our bed and spend the rest of the night as a family of four.

Minutes after giving birth to Lottie at home

I have been very fortunate to have two natural births without interventions, I can only imagine how difficult it must be when things do not go to plan especially when there is so much pressure on mums to have a natural birth. As far as I am concerned the way we give birth does not define how good a mother we are; being a mum is a difficult job at the best of times and five years down the line, does the birth really have any affect on the child? I believe the important thing is that the child is loved and the mother is happy?

With the number of antenatal classes being cut, parents are left with only the options to pay privately or have no antenatal classes, leaving many parents uninformed about childbirth. Dad's often feel unprepared for childbirth as antenatal classes have historically been geared towards the mother's needs. I strongly believe that specific classes should be made available to dads; despite childbirth being a natural process intervention can be needed; I can only imagine how hard it must be for dads to witness their partner and child go through difficulties, even more so when they do not know what is really happening. More needs to be done to help parents prepare for childbirth and the first few weeks thereafter. What would you like to see happen?

When (my husband made me change it from 'if') I am successful in becoming a qualified midwife, there is one thing that will stay with me from my own experiences and that of my friends; a positive birth is not necessarily a natural birth, you can still have a fantastic positive experience giving birth if you have a cesarean section. Being empowered and feeling in control can help towards a positive birth experience no matter what the method of delivery.

Everyone reacts to trauma in different ways; help should be made available for anyone who needs it. If you would like support, most maternity hospitals offer a birth reflection service where you can talk about your birth and ask questions; alternatively you can find support here -

If you would like to listen to the radio interview that I gave today, please click the link below -

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