You have just finished your prenatal classes and childbirth education. You and your man are ready for the big day now and yet he still seems strangely emotionally unavailable and a little distant. ‘You will be fine’, he says. Yet somewhere inside you are not sure whether or not he really is ready.
It is natural to want the emotional support of your man whilst giving birth. Like yourself, he hasn’t experienced birth or parenthood before. You are literally in this together! Men also need to be prepared for the emotional journey of birth and parenting. However, some of that preparation needs to be in there own way and in their own time. For some men the ‘bonding’ or real interest doesn’t necessarily happen until the baby is in their arms. One of the most divine moments in my life was watching the father of my children literally fall in love with our first born.
Forty three years ago my father wasn’t allowed in the birthing room. Father’s being present and taking more of an interest in co-parenting is still relatively new for many couples. Breaking the patterns that our parents followed and generally being more aware of our personal rights and what we will and won’t allow or tolerate within our personal relationships is also shaping the way in which we as a society are giving birth. It is not just ‘women’s business’ anymore. More and more men are wanting to take an active and present role in the birth and parenting of their children. Taking classes together does encourage bonding and connection. However, they are often educational based rather than emotionally preparatory and giving birth is a tremendous deal! Men also need reassurance that they are doing a great job at the time!
At the end of the day it is up to us as women, to give birth to our children and guide them out of our own bodies and into our partners arms. Stay strong in your own ability and belief that you can do this!
Letting go of any high expectations that he ‘has’ go the distance with you, breathe every breath and massage you for hours on end because it is his child, will help you to embrace and welcome what he can and will give to you during the labour. Birth is just the beginning of the journey. Good emotional preparation and an awareness of what he can expect and suggestions as to how his masculine energy of protection is best used in birth is vital to creating an empowered experience for the both of you!
If you partner is anxious then it will be more challenging for you to relax and go within and remain in your birth zone. You may find that you get irritated and even reject or ask him to leave the room! Learning techniques where he can guide you or getting a doula will assist you in creating a positive birthing experience. A doula is not there to take the father’s place, her role is to empower and support you both. A doula will help support your man so he can be the best that he can be.
Many men are overwhelmed by length and intensity of labour. They often feel out of place and when in the throws of labour a woman yells, “Don’t touch me like that!”, they take it personally and retreat or withdraw emotionally just to get through. As a doula, I understand and witness that women get frustrated and have rather long moments. The birth environment is an unfamiliar one to the first time parents and there is a lot required in terms of physical support, let alone to keep the positive flow going, especially during a long labour.
The average labour for first-time parents can last from 8 to 16 hours, so there will be ample opportunity to practice all the tools that you both have been learning. The role of the support person is to be your birth buddy. Its important that you keep all tension out of the room. Unresolved feelings or grievances in your relationship will not magically disappear on the day. It is important to dissolve and resolve some of the issues before going into labour. As a therapist, years later I hear the stories of how a woman didn’t feel the emotional support and presence of her partner during birth. I also hear the other side, where the man has felt overwhelmed and out of his depth even though he tried his best.
If you are wanting any more information and tips to on how to release expectations and emotionally prepare yourself and your partner for labour, birth and those early parenting days please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or book a session.
Birth Therapist, Childbirth Educator, Doula and Hypnotherapist.
Creating gentle empowered and connected loving birth experiences.