Thursday, April 18, 2013

What About the Partner After Childbirth?

I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy and childbirth (I'll write that post eventually). Labor was long, really long. Contractions started in the middle of the day Saturday, were consistently about 3-4 minutes apart by early Sunday morning and I didn't give birth until Monday evening. All without a single drug of any kind, little sleep and not much to eat. At least not that stayed where it was supposed to stay. The Hubs was there the whole time. Making sure I had food if I needed it. Making sure I was comfortable and remembered my breathing techniques. I think he watched some baseball, but you'd have to ask him. There may have well not been a TV in my room because I was focused and don't remember that. He has his own side of the story.

I asked The Hubs how he was doing. During my labor he kept saying he was fine, just tired. At some point he got a headache and wasn't feeling great, which I was vaguely aware of, but he stayed by my side. I think he mentioned a couple of times that he didn't like to see me in pain. Frankly, I didn't feel that much pain during most of my labor. My amazing Hypnobirthing instructor Joyce made sure I had the tools to get through it.

But what about The Hubs? A recent study out of the University of Oxford suggests partners need some support too. At least after difficult births. It was a small study, just 10 participants, but it highlights something that almost no one asks. How does the partner fair after watching the mother in pain or the new baby going through so much stress to make it out healthy and alive? Reading a few websites that have commented on this study, many people complain it's ridiculous. "Make them go into combat and see what it feels like to really have something to develop PTSD!" "This is why men shouldn't be in the delivery room and don't have babies!" "Anything to over diagnose the real issue of PTSD!" They say the woman often doesn't have the same issue during complicated childbirth because she is often drugged or unconscious. So should we pay attention to the father or just tell him to suck it up and get over himself?

My labor was fairly uneventful. The nurses and midwives (yeah, I went through 2 shifts) didn't even know when I had a contraction because I went deep into my head, relaxed and didn't make a sound. But still, The Hubs was so worried about me being in pain and going through this event where I pushed out a living human being. For me it was one of the most amazing times of my life. That's how I felt then and that's how I feel now. But I knew how I felt, he didn't really. I knew that my body was doing what it needed to do. The Hubs felt helpless and scared and wished he could do more than just be there for moral support. So what about the husbands and dads and partners who have to watch the mother of their child go through very scary emergency procedures? I can only imagine what they must feel.

Let's give those dads a break. While attending to the new mother, ask the partner how he is feeling. Maybe they need a little support too. And this is coming from a mom so I can say how much support I need after actually giving birth and can let some of that go to make sure my partner gets what he needs too. Having 2 healthy parents is much better for the new baby than having one close off his feelings.

No comments:

Post a Comment