Big tough men aren’t afraid of anything, right? Wrong! When it comes to pregnancy and birth of their children I’ve talked to countless men (and women) that are not only confused by the whole process and what comes with it, but they are downright terrified by it.
I’m always talking about the cycles in our lives and how they ultimately dictate outcomes. Pregnancy and birth are part of the parenthood cycle. Parenthood isn’t only about what happens after the baby gets here. Parenthood is supported and strengthened by healthy marital relationships and there is actually a pretty good stack of research to suggest that development of and relationships with your child start in the womb. For these reasons I wanted to share a couple thoughts that can help the pregnancy and birth process be a time of growth and can relieve some of the fear.
All four of my children have been born at home with a midwife and I had the opportunity to coach my wife through each birth. These experiences have been some of the crowning experiences of my life. They have brought trust, connection and a bond with my children that is incredible from day one.
Look Who’s Talking… And Listen
Remember the 1989 comedy, “Look Who’s talking?” It will probably never be called one of the greatest movies of all time, but there is no denying the comedy in Bruce Willis’s voice as the mental “voice” of a newborn baby. Just after Willis’s character is born, his mother (Mollie) and the cabby who got her to the hospital (James) have the following conversation:
James: You don’t look so hot.
Mollie: Why don’t you try squeezing something the size of a watermelon out of an opening the size of a lemon and see how hot YOU look?
James: Ouch! Guess I’d better call my mother more often!
Why doesn’t everyone reading this take a moment to call and thank their mothers? (I’ll be right here when you get back.) Honestly, we have a lot to be thankful for to those women willing to birth children. This is not a simple task. As with anything in life, a friend and support can be a great help in a successful child birth. As a man never having experienced anything quite like pregnancy or child birth, it is important to remember the following two things:
1. It’s all about her.
Just realize now that, just like everything else, you know nothing about how your wife is feeling. Women often express concerns or complaints and it is the husband’s job to listen. DON’T TRY TO FIX IT! Pregnancy and child birth are an emotional time for most women due to many factors, such as hormonal changes, life changes, body changes, and new responsibilities, as well as happy things like movement inside them, and the unconditional bond and love with the unborn child. Be support-oriented, rather than solution-oriented. Don’t view the emotionality as a problem to be fixed, but rather as new experience to savor and an opportunity to learn to connect with your wife at a deeper level than ever before.
When a mother is in labor, the more relaxed she is, the better. A supportive husband can be the most relaxing and calming resource she has. The stronger and more supportive the relationship is prior to the birth, the more positive the husband’s participation will be. So, do something today to strengthen that relationship.
2. It’s all about you.
Don’t be a dope. Educate yourself about pregnancy, labor, and birth. There are many great books available to help with this. (The Birth Book, Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, and Pregnancy, Child Birth and the Newborn are all great resources.)
It’s important for the husband to know the process of pregnancy and child birth as well as the options mothers have. Husbands are often asked to make decisions during child birth because the mother is not “available” to make the decisions. Father’s should feel confident in making those decisions and know that their wife’s best interest is executed. Take some classes together or start your self-study, but don’t wait. Nine months goes by faster than you think.
Pregnancy and birth are miraculous and the process can be strengthening to your marriage and the start of an amazing experience as a parent. Get rid of the fear and experience the joy of this marvelous time in your life and the life of those you love most!
Question: Why haven’t you called your mother yet?
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