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Dads' experiences of labour and birth please?

(26 Posts)
pitteddates Sat 28-Mar-15 20:49:24

We're expecting our first baby and DH has told me today that he's not too keen on being present for the majority of the labour in hospital (although he does want to be there for the birth itself) as he's concerned about the following (possibly amongst other things): seeing me in pain and not being able to help, feeling like a spare part and not knowing what's expected of him, trying to be useful and doing the wrong thing, being sidelined and the midwives thinking of him as yet another useless man of no significance cluttering up the place, being bored, being generally very stressed.
Obviously I don't want him to feel he has to be there if he doesn't genuinely want to, and have explained that I'd totally understand if he did want to sit it out in the cafe and come along just for the actual birth, but he's determined to be present throughout, in no small part because he feels it's expected of him and doesn't want anyone to think badly of him if he wasn't there (although I don't think anyone involved would).

I think part of the issue is that women are provided with a lot of information and have a better idea of what the experience will be like for them whereas it's probably quite difficult for men to know what to expect.

Just wondered if any other men felt like this in the lead up to their PFB's birth and what their actual experiences of being with their partner through labour and birth were?

SisterMoonshine Sat 28-Mar-15 21:15:03

(I'm a mum, not a dad)

But I expect there's a lot of men who look fondly at recent history when they were shoo-ed away from the 'women's stuff' that was giving birth. And equally there will be dad's who are glad they are now a part of it.

He probably will have several of those feelings of feeling useless etc.
I bet you'd quite like to sit in a cafe and come back when the baby's here too eh?

Maybe share whatever information it is we get.

I ended up having a C-section, and I know my DH felt like a numpty when it was him who had to dress the baby first... it was all poppers and lolling head and me and the midwife watching.

And there were several moments of feeling inadequate over the next few weeks, with struggling to breastfeed, the baby only wanting mum etc

I think it helps if you can keep your sense of humour together.

lordsquidgy2013 Sun 29-Mar-15 09:10:03

Best thing I ever did.

All he needs to do is hold your hand and help you breathe. He needs a strong hand though; DP nearly broke mine lol

pitteddates Sun 29-Mar-15 15:30:02

Were you apprehensive beforehand Squidgy?

Skywalker7 Sun 29-Mar-15 15:42:59

My wife phoned me when she was taken up to the deliver room. I'm glad I was there to give her some support and get some experience of what was involved.

It's well worth it when the child is born and you can hold him/her

VoyageOfDad Sun 29-Mar-15 19:42:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Anticyclone Sun 29-Mar-15 20:43:51

I was there for the whole birth. From my wife's first contraction in the middle of the night, to spotting the top of the baby's head - before the stressed agency midwife halfway through a shift change spotted it grin.

To be honest, the thought of not being there to support my wife through one of the most intense, scary and happy experiences of her life sounds unimaginable to me. You support your partner through stuff like this, you just do. Quite apart from the fact that it was one of the most intense, scary and happy experiences of MY life too. And so I wouldn't have missed it for purely selfish reasons as well! I wanted to meet my child!

My one thought is, have you been to any anti-natal classes together? Or are you thinking of both doing an NCT course? He is scared of the unknown right? So you need to prepare for the birth together and he needs to know all the things that could happen and all the ways in which he can help.

If he is worried about being useless, he needs to know that one of the most important roles of a birth partner is to be an advocate for the woman in labour. When you are tired, drugged and woozy and if there are compilations and several options on how to proceed, you need someone to stand up for you and your wishes.

Moresproutsplease Sun 29-Mar-15 20:53:22

Anticyclone, I wish you'd been my birth partner smile

RunningDaddy Wed 01-Apr-15 21:44:46

I wasn't looking forward to it at all. I've always had an issue with blood - as a kid I would turn white if I cut myself enough for blood to FLOW, and didn't do well with needles/ injections. So the thought of seeing a baby come out or all the medical paraphernalia had me thinking I'd be passed out on the floor and getting in the way. I had decided I'd be down the pub handing out cigars in celebration instead. Wifey is a strong woman and so happy to go along with this fantasy grin She was thinking about having her sister (already a mum) with her instead.

Then my best mate lent me a book: The Expectant Dad's Handbook. He said it was helpful to him in the birth of his son a few months earlier. I have to say it changed my life. I felt like I was brainwashed by the end of it. It covered all the issues the OP's DH has mentioned including what was expected of me and what I could do to make the whole experience better for mum and baby.

I'm happy to say all my work on the day was appreciated and the midwife was brilliant at helping with keeping me away from the most gory stuff. I even managed to cut the cord! I'm so happy I was a part of DS's arrival. An amazing day.

housepicturesqueclub Thu 02-Apr-15 10:36:16

Anticyclone : Spot on.

As a Dad, you won't be a spare part, you'll be very busy ensuring that your lady is eating and drinking enough (having enough energy to get through it is vital), mopping her brow etc., holding her hand, pressing play on her chosen CD (again!) all the little things, and of course helping with decisions if things don't go smoothly.

I was nervous about fainting, so had sister-in-law lined up for extra support, but in the end I didn't need to call on her. I was far too focused and busy to worry about myself.

Honeybear30 Thu 02-Apr-15 10:55:13

I have to say the advocate thing played a major role in my labour. My DH managed to prevent a c section by talking to the medical team when I was physically unable to speak. He knows me so well, when I could hear him talking and I couldn't speak it was exactly what I needed him to say. I think he had the same book mentioned by a pp, well worth the money. He felt much more prepared as to what to expect and what he could do for me after reading it.

lordsquidgy2013 Fri 03-Apr-15 23:31:23

OP, apologies for the delay. Yes I was apprehensive, very nervous in fact. I was scared for my DP in case anything went wrong and there was a slight emergency towards the end. But I kept my cool and did as I was told, the end result is so worth it.

Timsowter Sat 04-Apr-15 17:28:42

Hello. Having been through it four times, two in hospital and two at home, I know that there is no need to worry about being an expert or doing the right thing. He just needs to be there, holding your hand, giving you the gas and air whenever it is needed, giving lots of encouragement and be prepared to have his head nearly pulled off.

BreakingDad77 Tue 07-Apr-15 14:11:37

I think part of the issue is that women are provided with a lot of information and have a better idea of what the experience will be like for them whereas it's probably quite difficult for men to know what to expect

I think there can be a range of factors involved, I asked lots of questions in to the tun up and read about it etc.

BUT some men sit back a bit too much and try to not engage at in it but also some women appear to "own" the pregnancy.

Ours was induced but I still kept vigil though the gas and air, consoling her as we went helping her with positions and just being supportive.

I think this all helps breaking down the man babysits the women parents
stereotype. We have a family friend who has two kids, and she had to come back from her night out early 'because he couldn't cope' for which I was WTF!

CultureSucksDownWords Tue 07-Apr-15 14:24:29

Not a man, but from my point of view you are in it together as a team. Being the actual pregnant woman doesn't make you any less bored, nervous, apprehensive etc, but you don't get a choice as to whether you attend!

My DP is prone to fainting around medical things so I had a doula as well just in case my DP had to step out for a moment. In the end, the only bit he didn't see was the epidural going in, which I didn't mind at all!

Then, when DS was delivered via EMCS my DP was suddenly the main focus as me and DS were both very unwell. He had to go with DS to SCBU and did a day and a half of everything (all decisions about DS, all babycare that he was asked to do etc) whilst I was recovering in the HDU and too poorly to be compos mentis. So there is a lot that he might need to do, and if you want him to be there, he should really be able to put aside his own discomfort and nerves for your benefit.

Butlergremlin Wed 08-Apr-15 13:54:52

Erm..... I don�t know if I should be kind or harsh!

The kind side -
My wife was admitted the night before as she needed to be induced and I went home - had a takeaway and got a decent night sleep (kind off). The following day I went to the hospital and helped my wife move to a birthing suite. Yes there was a lot of waiting around but the midwifes were really nice and offered loads of tea - she was in pain from the offset and ALOT of pain by about 11am - by 2pm she was screaming for an epidural - I was there all the way through to comfort her, discuss things with the midwifes (as she couldn�t hold much of a conversation) and generally be there. When she had her epidural I went where I was told, I helped to steady my wife and kept her as calm as I could.
Things settled a bit after this, I helped to keep an eye on her and watched over things while the midwifes were out of the room.
By 8:10pm my wife�s temperature was going up and the baby�s heart rate was going a little mental - by 8:15 the decision had been made and she was taken to theatre by 8:25 she had been taken away from me and I was thrown a blue gown to go down for a caesarean. I sat with her and held her while it all happened (and she held me) until we were presented with our gorgeous little girl.
Straight after I was there to help and support her, my wife needed desperate sleep and I needed to step in (with help from the nurses).
I am so pleased I was there for the whole thing (not that I realised it at the time). I feel I made a huge difference to my wife�s comfort and kept things going how she wanted them when she wasn�t able too.
So the questions you raised:
Seeing me in pain and not being able to help � She will be in pain anyway, not being there wont make her feel better and I am sure she will agree that even just you being there WILL HELP

Feeling like a spare part and not knowing what's expected of him � When you are needed you will be told what to do, if you want to help just ask. What is expected is that you are there for her!

trying to be useful and doing the wrong thing � Yup, did this � didn�t matter, just got on with it anyway. At least I tried.

being sidelined and the midwives thinking of him as yet another useless man of no significance cluttering up the place � Did the midwifes take charge � Yes! Did they make me feel like a spare part � No! This is about you too, if your not happy raise it with the management and complain!!!!

being bored (HAHAHHAHAHAAHAHAHA), being generally very stressed � Yes you will be but at this stage im sure you will agree it is more important for you to help take some of the stress away from her

Ok � now the other side of it.
If something doesn�t go to plan how would you feel not being there, deciding to be somewhere else. If you want to leave her to do it on her own then you need to rethink things because having a chile is much more difficult than being there while someone has a child.
Your other half has no idea what to expect, No idea what state of mind she will be in, on the day she will be scared and worried and need you � pull your finger out and get on with it!!
Now if you do get on with it you wont regret it and neither will she. Is it normal to feel the things you feel � Yes. Does that mean you should shy away from them and hide?

Anyway � enough from me � good luck and congratulations to you both. You wont regret it (although you may feel like you do at times). It is awesome. DON�T MISS IT!!

P.S. Sorry - Dont know how to use all of the acronyms my wife bleats on about......

hobNong Wed 08-Apr-15 14:15:58

Hi I'm a woman so not quite what you're after but I actually wasn't sure I wanted my dp at the birth (because I wanted to be alone. I hate people seeing me in positions of weakness if I'm honest). He was very keen to be there to support me so I said he could.

Looking back, I'm glad he was. Firstly my labour was quite quick so there wasnt much waiting around. Secondly, there were complications and his support meant so much. Even if there hadn't of been, giving birth is pretty damn traumatic all on its own. Thirdly, I don't think he'd give up that moment when she first came out and he got to hold her for anything.

I didn't know any more about labour than he did. We didn't attend antenatal classes and had both read a bit of information online.

frankbough Thu 09-Apr-15 10:24:01

2 births, both induced, one was long but without complications, the other long with emergency surgery needed and the baby in intensive care for 4 weeks.. It is what it is and he should be there and take up all the slack and more...

MurielWoods Tue 12-May-15 19:52:58

I have had 3 deliveries (first one a C Section) and DH was present at all 3.

I can't remember whether he helped in a practical way TBH as I spent most of the time off my face with gas and air but I do know that I couldn't have done it without him.

I was so scared but just knowing that he was in the room with me calmed me down enormously.

Congratulations xx

partialderivative Wed 13-May-15 18:37:32

I was there for both of ours.

There were definitely times that I felt like a bit if a spare part, though my DW let me know that she was glad I was there...

... as her worrying about whether I would faint kept her mind off the other stuff.

Bless her.

Grammyka Wed 23-Sep-15 09:16:57

late to the party on this one but... I've got three and i was there for all of them and i can tell you this. If there is one place on this earth where a man has no place being it is in a birthing room.

firstly. all the women in there, midwifes nurses etc treat you like a spare peg. they've got a job to do, you're just the sperm donor.

secondly you are basically a decoration and a safeguard there to hold a hand and stay the F out of the way.

thirdly, at some point your dear partner will probably turn on you, it's not personal, just the pain. Speaking of which...

fourthly, you will have to see the person you love suffer in pain and anguish, probably for a very long time, which is awful, probably the most harrowing thing about the whole business.

fifthly. There will be blood - lots of it, from the moment the plug goes you can expect viscous lumpy gooey black lumps and even worse a doctor may have to intentionally take a scalpel to your ladies bits to ease the birth - quite shocking i assure you.

sixth the distended look of the aforementioned lady bits will probably put you off doing the naughty for a significant amount of time.

seven. once the birth is done the lady gets a massive dose of happiness endorphins and exhaustion you are just left there feeling shocked, harrowed, useless, helpless and not knowing what to do with the really powerful emotional experiences you've just been through.

it would be better if men were somehow expecting this experience, but the whole birthing class crap does absolutely nothing to allay the impact or adequately prepare you.

i went in there cos my partner wanted it. in that respect it was the right thing to do, but... please reread.

Focusfocus Sun 04-Oct-15 17:05:45

Well, grammyka, thank fuck I'm not married to you. Grateful for my amazing husband every single day.

Toadinthehole Sat 10-Oct-15 02:20:44


I was present at the birth of each of my children. I was there partly because it was expected of me, and partly (obviously) because I had to get DW to the hospital. This sounds awful, but for the most part it was all pretty dull. I spent most of the time in the corner out of the way reading a book. The medics didn't seem to mind. If they had minded, I'd just have told them to find me something to do. I didn't find the birth especially exhilarating or emotional, neither was I at all traumatised at seeing DW yelling in pain because, well, it's what I expected to happen. I cut the umbilical cord on each occasion because the nurse asked me if I'd like to, and I shrugged my shoulders and said "OK then!". I might have held DW's hand a bit, but I don't remember doing so - she was too preoccupied with shoving a baby out of her body. The sight of DW's distended ladyparts didn't put me off sex at all (actually our sex life improved post birth once DW was back in the saddle, so to speak, on each occasion). My dominant memory of holding each of my newly born children was pleasure that they seemed to have all their parts and were behaving quite normally. I suppose for some men being present at the labour is terribly traumatic or ecstatic, but for me it was just meh.

God that sounds terrible, but that's basically how it was.

A couple of additional comments: I would be surprised at an expectant father who didn't know what tends to happen during labour. The subject is hardly taboo now, so I would think it unlikely that your DH had a lack of information. Secondly, your DH should bear in mind that not attending the labour is considered somewhat rude now, even amongst men. If he attends, it will be over with eventually, unless he is a wuss. If he doesn't he will have to live with that. Also if (God forbid) your child is stillborn his lack of presence would become very significant.

I think it was right for me to attend, even though I was just on hand if required. The only genuinely useful thing I did on each occasion was to phone our respective families and fill out the birth registration form. I think you should tell your DH that you would like him to attend even if just to do the prosaic things that I did. Finally, and I cannot emphasise this enough, it is your wishes that should take priority and I hope I treated my DW that way when she was going through labour.

Tell your DH that you would like him to attend, and tell him to bring a good book, other things to pass the time, a birth registration form, a pen, and a pillow in case your labour is long.

Toadinthehole Sat 10-Oct-15 02:21:34

Haha, I've just seen the date of the OP. I guess it's all over with now smile

walleyednick Sun 08-Nov-15 11:29:05

I know this post was posted posted a while ago but I'm writing a new blog about becoming a dad ie labour, being in the hospital and everything after! So if anyone like me is pooing bricks check it out it and leave me some feed back!

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