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It’s not often in a man’s life, that he is catapulted entirely out of his comfort zone and thrust into an environment where he does not have a central role. Initially, for expecting parents the physiology of childbirth is the great unknown but for women at least, our role has been defined by nature. Our bodies know how to give birth and our baby knows how to be born. A man does not instinctively know how he can best support us because in the history of childbirth, his being present in the birthing room only became accepted as the norm in the late 70s, early 80s. He can be left wondering what on earth to do, how he can help and then for all his efforts, can sometimes be told to sod off – ‘never again you….!’
Long gone are the days when the man used to stand at the entrance of the cave, spear in hand. Now, not only is he expected to be with his partner, very often his role is to act as chief birth companion. And this is very important because women who have a constant and trusted presence very often experience a more positive childbirth than those women who do not feel this sense of constant support.
If he is demonstrating unease or is himself frightened, he will release hormones, (adrenaline amongst others), that will be interrupting the very careful balance of hormones a woman in labour must release for her to have an uncomplicated birth. Her mind and body are highly sensitive and will register a stressful presence, if not consciously then certainly subconsciously.
Many women when newly pregnant have a desire to want to learn about birth. By doing so they feel more in control and their confidence and belief in their ability to give birth strengthens as the birth month approaches. Well, the same goes for men. Expecting fathers need to understand that by being better informed, they too can make a huge difference in how their wife or girlfriend copes and most importantly rather than bring anxiety and even fear into the room, they bring confidence and a sense of protectiveness.
I think it’s wonderful that the father is expected at the birth. He should be involved with the whole process and be there when his child is born but everyone will gain from the experience if fathers can learn how to support, guide and importantly advocate. You are now in our cave – so learn how to protect us close up.
Providing a gentle, reassuring touch is midwifery at its best and there is no reason why fathers cannot do this too through massage.
Running your fingers gently on the back, arms, neck and of course bump will help to create endorphins, the body’s natural analgesic and an essential birth hormone. If you think baby might be spine to spine then the mother may want a harder massage probably on her lower back.
You can try Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Oil a luxury oil – £23.00.
As a natural childbirth consultant, Sarah helps expecting women and their partners make informed choices about their pregnancy and birth. Sarah teaches Hypnobirthing and lectures about normal birth. Sarah has also founded NaturalChildbirth – an international website all about pregnancy and birth – www.naturalchildbirth.co/uk