Being A Great Birth Coach
You see husbands in a childbirth class and you can watch them start to freak out as they realize the magnitude of what they have gotten themselves into. We talk about countless positions, relaxation methods, interventions, emotional signposts, biology and honestly- it is overwhelming for most men. It just looks like so so much to remember and they naturally fear that they will forget something.
Some natural birth supporters have even gone so far as to say that fathers should not be in the delivery room because it is too disturbing for them to watch and even damaging to the relationship. What does dad need to know in order to be a help instead of a problem?
Obviously, Dr Bradley, who along with Jay and Marjie Hathaway, founded the Bradley Method also called Husband Coached Childbirth, thought that husbands should be present. He felt like the lover, trained in the ways of birth could be of most help to mother, with Dr or Midwife just there as a lifeguard to their sacred dance.
I think Dr Bradley made some huge changes in maternity care- but it pretty much stopped at getting the husband in the delivery room. All his stuff about very low medication rates has been tossed along the wayside. Today we see almost every father present at delivery, but very few of them are trained or knowledgeable about birth. They are just as afraid as their wives.
Father As Protector
Ask a woman about birth and the words that most often come to mind first are fear and pain. Given how fearful women are and how truly disturbing birth often is in this country, there is no doubt that this can be an incredibly hard situation for a loving father.
Consider how distraught a father would be after viewing a "birth" that more resembles a sexual assault. His wife is drugged, strapped to a bed, attached to numerous machines, her private parts are entered at the whim of nameless care providers, machines beep away indicating her "progress". Dad has no idea what is going on. He bows to the superior knowledge of the medical machine. Meanwhile, a man, husband, lover, and soon to be father, begins his journey as a father feeling helpless and worthless. He is unable to offer comfort, support, knowledge, or pain relief. Should he be there?
I can not imagine the birth of my children without the presence of their father. He was of utmost help to me. This was not because he insturcted my pushing or my breathing or position changes. It was just becuase he was there- and because he was calm.
I think the absolute most important thing that a father can bring to the table is trust in his partners ability to birth their baby. If he is scared and doesn't believe in her- she will know. This could definitly hurt the process, not to mention her feelings.
My husband does not tell me what to do. He doesn't have loads of information memorized about birth. He does however have a deeply held belief in the ability of the human body to do a miraculous work. He always believed that I could do it. He was calm and believed in me when I did not. When I have sobbed or screamed that "I can not do this" his simple and peaceful answer was always- "Yes- you can".
So- of course a loving trained father is a wonderful asset at a birth. He does however need to trust in his partner. Taking an out of hospital childbirth class is an excellent way to get over the fear and misinformation out there and learn to trust in birth. The couples that do the best are the ones where dad is involved and reading and loving throughout the entire process.