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Dad to be - help in preparing for childbirth

(72 Posts)
NigelM Thu 07-Jul-11 23:41:16

Hi All

My wife and I are due our first in mid november, I dont mind admitting that I find the 'actual event' phenomenally frightening, the overwhelming fear I have is of complications that could put her life at risk, I flinch when friends who have given birth talk of stitches and blood loss, its difficult putting into words but I just dont want her to suffer at all, I know its a wonderful thing to be happening but Im just scared about what might happen to her and know that she will need me to be strong and supportive,

Of course we are both going to all the NCT classes avaliable but I really want to be prepared before then and have searched Amazon for any books that detail the birthing process but am struggling to find anything, does anyone have any recommendations or advice about what books I should read? I want to be as informed and prepared as it is possible to be.


(who's a little bit scared)

fraktious Thu 07-Jul-11 23:50:18

She's American and hippyish but Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbiryh is fab for inspiring stories and a good explanation of the process and psychology of birth.

thelennox Thu 07-Jul-11 23:51:27

Try babies by Christopher green. At the very least it will make you chuckle and poss help to calm you down. Don't worry too much, be prepared to end up with a very sore hand from too much squeezing, and above all stay calm, even when she wants to bite you. Do not remind her she wanted to do this without pain relief when she begs for epidural/ any drugs available, and be ready to stand your ground (or her ground) if staff become too bossy.
Good luck!

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 08-Jul-11 00:01:58

Stay at the top end, and focus on helping your wife focus through the contractions. I stayed on my feet throughout and leant over the bed while my husband stayed in front of me and made me count or say the alphabet, sounds silly but it really helped.

Also, reassure her that it is normal for there to be a lot of blood and not to panic, no one told me this and I think I went into a kind of shock after the birth.

spudulika Fri 08-Jul-11 08:14:31

Second the vote for reading 'Spiritual Childbirth'.

Oh and read this thread - laughedsomuchIshatmyself

And remember - stitches, a bit of blood loss, etc is NO BIG DEAL in childbirth. Maternal mortality in this country is incredibly, incredibly low, particularly for healthy women. So stop worrying. Really. Stop. You'll have plenty of opportunity to worry yourself sick once your child actually arrives. The rest of your life in fact!

Ivortheengine8 Fri 08-Jul-11 08:25:48

I agree with Scarlette, You don't HAVE to look down there, you can stay at the top end and just try and give her as much support as possible. She will find it best if you are calm. There are also lots of books written by men out there which might be more helpful. Don't listen to the scare stories, everyone has such a different experience. Who knows, she might just pop the baby out within the hour and be sent home!! grin

My DH is getting off llightly this time as he has to look after our 1st DD so won't be coming into the birth. He managed to survive last time though and he has a phobia of anything medical/hospital related. He would be on his death bed before he had to go for anything himself!

porpoisefull Fri 08-Jul-11 08:41:58

Try not too panic too much about life-threatening complications, as spudulika said, modern hospitals keep women safe. Maybe read a book aimed at new fathers that covers childbirth but also might help prepare you for what comes after - also a massive shock to the system - and that might help you get it in perspective. Marcus Berkmann "Fatherhood" perhaps if you fancy a break from some of the more serious stuff.

Oh and 'get it in perspective' isn't meant to be patronising, I totally understand why you are scared!

ohmeohmy Fri 08-Jul-11 09:33:22

best thing you can do is get over your fears and make your wife feel loved and protected, be her advocate with the medical staff. If you are really fearful yourself then do hypnobirthing as it will release your fears and give you all the techniques you need to be a fab birthing partner and learn what you need to know about birth. and if you want to see what a gentle birth can be like take a look at these births on youtube

Cattleprod Fri 08-Jul-11 09:59:42

Hi Nigel,

I think often the stories sound a lot worse than the actual event - for example, if someone explained graphically how they tore a ligament during a game of football it would sound horrific, but to them it would be a bit of pain and hobbling around for a while, and a surgeon explaining laser eye surgery in detail would have you squirming in your seat, whereas in reality I've heard you don't feel very much.

Don't feel you have to hide your emotions completely - my DP was crying in a chair towards the end - a combination of tiredness and the enormity of it all.

If you want statistics on maternal mortality in this country (I find it helps reduce the fear if you know how big or small the risks are) then it is around 14 per 100,000. And don't forget this includes all mothers including 'high risk' - drug addicts, morbidly obese, women with serious underlying health conditions and women who happen to be severely ill at the point of giving birth (swine flu etc), so if your wife is healthy her personal risk will be much lower. Going on statistics, birth is only slightly more dangerous than going under a general anaesthetic.

Also remember that if she's shouting and screaming, it may well be as a distraction from the pain - like when you stub your toe you can pinch your arm to make your toe less painful. I found it took the edge off the pain if I hollered during the later contractions - doesn't mean that they were so unbearably painful that I had to scream, if that makes sense.

Good luck - I'd recommend you practice the breathing exercises that your wife will be taught in the NCT classes, they are great for calming yourself through anxiety and panic attacks.

iwillbrushmyteethbefore10am Fri 08-Jul-11 11:45:44

we didn't have time to go to antenatal and were a bit clueless. Midwife was absolutely fantastic and guided us through the whole thing. I would discuss it with your wife and mention to the midwife who delivers the baby that you're nervous etc. You'll get loads of advice which you will be sick of hearing but if your wife is in hospital at all for more than one night and you are at home outside visiting hours, please ensure that you eat as best as you can and sleep. Your wife will need you to be thinking straight when she gets home and sleep deprivation through worry will really impact. Hope it all goes well.

NigelM Fri 08-Jul-11 13:21:29

Thanks everyone for your kind words and advice. I'll look into all suggestions, hopefully we will all breeze through it!

OnionEyes Fri 08-Jul-11 13:43:13

This DVD is excellent. I watched it with my DH and as we were going through the DVD we chatted about what we would want to do in those circumstances/situation.

It allowed me to tell my DH what I really did and did not want, both in terms of what I wanted from him and what I wanted from the MW (drugs etc). It meant that whilst in labour my DH was able to talk to the MW about what I wanted, even when I was speechless with contractions.

Also, we were able to speak privately in our living room together about what we were watching, rather than in front of others at an NCT class or once we'd got home and forgotten a few things. Every time one of us wanted to discuss something we just pressed the pause button.

Flisspaps Fri 08-Jul-11 13:51:03

I'll also say Nigel - my DH was adamant he was staying up the top end and did NOT want to see what was going on at all.

He ended up standing at the business end with my foot on his chest and the other foot on the MW's chest, cheering me on and telling me he could see DD's head. He also managed fantastically when they brought out the forceps (making sure I was certain I was consenting as the one thing I had drummed into him was No Forceps Under Any Circumstances) and managed to hold it together and lie like never before that no, no, there wasn't much blood (was actually haemmorraging and the doctors were swarming into the room)

I suppose what I mean to tell you is that you will be fine. It can be frightening, but it doesn't have to be. The more informed you both are the better, so make sure that you know her birth plan and what she wants. Go with her wishes. And sadly, she probably will suffer, childbirth is bloody painfull and hard work, but you'll get through it (possibly with a broken hand and a threat of having your balls chopped off if you go near her again) wink

The best place I can suggest for details of birth is the Childbirth board and the Birth announcements section on here - there are more details than you'll find in any book, both good and bad.

Best of luck grin

Flisspaps Fri 08-Jul-11 13:52:40

Oh, and if you can then watch One Born Every Minute on catch up (not the American one though - most UK births aren't as medicalised as American births, nor is it normal to have swathes of relatives in the room!)

WoTmania Fri 08-Jul-11 13:59:59

this book might be helpful.
I would also recommend New Active Birt by Janet Balaskas - very pracical guide to having an active, upright labour.
FWIW - I love giving birth. I think people are way to keen to tell their horror stories and those of us who have good experiences are shouted down and told we're lucky and rare.

threefeethighandrising Fri 08-Jul-11 14:05:53

Be prepared that birth can be a very long process! You may need to be awake for a very long time, but no one will be feeding you any drugs (Well I assume anyway!). Your DW will be busy, very busy indeed of course, but actually for you there will be long periods of time where time can really drag. DP found staying awake the hardest bit, practically speaking and next time (if there is one) he'll will bring drinks with caffeine with him, including a flask of coffee.

I just asked DP what his advice is and he says "just do whatever she wants"! and "Be attentive without being overly attentive".

As long as you're there for her, holding her hand (metaphorically speaking too!) you'll be doing your bit.

OnionEyes Fri 08-Jul-11 14:11:30

Can I just add that its really important to tell your DW how proud of her you are afterwards, no matter how the birth went.

Grumpla Fri 08-Jul-11 14:22:46

My Dh was amazing when I gave birth to our DS and he managed it by being totally focussed on me. Offered me drinks before I even realised I was thirsty, made me toast, talked to me, told me jokes, stopped telling me jokes when I told him to grin he helped me move around the room, rubbed my back, held my hand, held me upright when I was tired but I needed to stand. As long as you listen to what she wants and respond accordingly, you will be fine.

Leave your phone switched off, make sure you have plenty of food and drink for both of you, on NO ACCOUNT tell your wife AT ANY POINT that you are tired / have a headache etc.

Of course it is bloody scary, but she will be scared too and ultimately she's the one who has to give birth. You need to acknowledge your perfectly natural fear but focus very strongly on the tiny tiny odds of something going wrong versus the overwhelmingly good odds of everything going absolutely fine. And DO NOT tell her you are scared when she is in labour. Tell her there is nothing to be scared about because you KNOW she can do it.

Basically, tell her what a great job she is doing. Tell her how proud you are of her. Tell her that she is strong, that she can do it, that you are there with her.

And take your full paternity leave so that you can change all the shitty nappies for the first two weeks at least.

ohmeohmy Fri 08-Jul-11 14:23:33

meant to say also that you do not need to tell her to push and neither should the midwives. Valsalva pushing (Hold breath someone shouting at you) has been shown in the medical literature to be ineffective at best. Encourage her to go with her body, the uterus has a reflex to expel the baby (That's how women in comas can give birth without effort on their part.)

aliceliddell Fri 08-Jul-11 14:30:39

Prior to the birth you can assist enormously by oiling, massaging and gently stretching your wife's perineum. This will make absolutely no difference to the birth but it is highly pleasurable.

Sam100 Fri 08-Jul-11 14:42:25

I would second watching the one born every minute tv series - watch a few of them and remember that anything on tv is there for "entertainment" so they tend to focus on the dramatic stuff rather than the hours and hours of not so interesting waiting!

Read lots of birth stores - even if you are not considering home birth there are lots of relevant experiences that might help on the homebirth website. Even a dad's story here. Understand the 3 stages of birth and understand the mind-body connection.

Everything Grumpla says!

spudulika Fri 08-Jul-11 14:44:05

No no alice! There is evidence that it does reduce the incidence of 3rd degree tears in first time mums over the age of 30....

But actually OP, you could buy her one of these instead, and spare your thumbs the work:


NotJustKangaskhan Fri 08-Jul-11 15:14:13

I asked my husband, who having gone through being a birth partner three times (and apparently it isn't so bad since he'll be hopefully doing it again in November). Like you, he says he finds the whole thing "phenomenally frightening" - even today after going through it three times, once where he helped deliver. As he puts it, seeing a stranger do it is one thing, seeing your wife go through it is a completely different ballpark/emotional rollercoaster.

His main advice is: stay at the top end, hold hand as much as possible (because finding a hand while in the middle of a contraction is trickier than it looks and his arm got bruised from me trying to find it), stockpile caffeine and snacks to keep yourself awake and alert. Also remember that after the baby comes the placenta and your wife may need your support for that as well. Most importantly, ask your wife if there is anything she wants you to remember - during birth and just after birth is not a good time for remembering things or standing up for yourself. My husband has to remind me to eat and drink regularly, remind the medical staff what I can and cannot have due to my difficult medical history, and he needs to remember where we put the bag of stuff for me and baby post-birth.

Pootles2010 Fri 08-Jul-11 15:15:42

It'll be fine, it's not that dramatic. DP expected it to be like 'on 'telly' all mad rush to hospital and waters breaking, its actually quite long and boring.

Your job is as others have said - just be lovely, which i'm sure you will be anyway. Oh and keep car full of petrol, know the route to hospital, and where you're meant to park.

GnomeDePlume Fri 08-Jul-11 15:23:51

Hi Nigel

Advice from my DH - take your wedding ring off! I crushed it onto his hand and by the time he realised he couldnt take it off!

I couldnt have got through without my DH. The important thing for us wasnt that he knew all about the whole birth thing but that he knew me. He knew when I was coping and when I wasnt (I internalise so when I start saying 'I'm fine' it means I'm not IYSWIM).

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