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Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Dad's Point of View

I can't believe what I've just read that someone has written about Dads and their role at birth...

Waiting in my local GP Surgery, I picked up a parenting magazine, (probably) packed with useful features, tips and 100 ways to improve your life whilst still getting the cleaning done, etc. My eyes were drawn to a feature about Dads and their role at the birth of their child, accompanied by a beautiful photo of a six-packed tanned model (the Dad) standing in a labour room, cradling a (very clean and cute) baby in his arms, making his biceps bulge (naturally), suggesting the birth had only just occurred. You know the type...

I'd like to also point out that this magazine was filed inside a rigid plastic lever arch file, as were all the others, in an attempt by the Surgery to prevent any of the patients from stealing their literature (presumably implemented by their Security Control Monitoring HQ). Why would
anyone want to steal a magazine? I don't know, but looks like it's big business in MY surgery anyway, so watch yourselves...the lever arch security prevention squad may hit your surgery soon!

So, back to this feature...it was well-written (in places) and the style was pleasing, informal with a comical undertone and was obviously targeting all those nervous soon-to-be-Dads and suggested that their role in the delivery suite was paramount. In fact, I quote...

'Being a good dad in the delivery room is like being a great referee in a football match. If no one notices you are there but everything goes smoothly, and the big players (the midwife, obstetrician/doctor and your partner) shake your hand at the end, you’ve played a blinder.'

I'll tell you what! If no one noticed (or notices in 8 weeks time) MY husband during labour, boy -would HE be in trouble! Is a good referee really one that isn't noticed?

Maybe it IS personal preference and I should take that into consideration, BUT surely as a Referee - a manager of 22 people - he would need to have a strong personality and a belief in himself. Actually M A N A G E people and communicate with them effectively and in a timely manner. He would need to be fit...very fit, be dedicated, neutral, able to read 'the game' and be relatively thick-skinned. Above all, a referee has to have a reservoir of discretion and common sense. To summarise, a Referee exists primarily to facilitate the smooth running of a match. Does it remind any of you of YOUR labour experience? Well does it?

The National Childbirth Trust sees the father’s role at the birth as fulfilling one of three roles...
"A coach, who actively assists his partner with breathing and relaxation techniques that involve a high degree of physical involvement. A teammate, who is there to provide physical or emotional support as needed. And a witness, who finds holding hands and ‘just being there’ is enough.”

Slightly different from the multi-skilled, multi-talented Manager of everything in'it??!!

It is a very personal experience going through labour for BOTH Mummy and Daddy, but I gave Jerry strict instructions based on hearing those experiences of others. So, for Jerry, I said...Whatever happens, if I ask for an Epidural, then it's because I NEED one because the pain is too much for me and I expect you to back me up and demand it too. That's all I asked from recollection.

However, I asked Jerry for his point of view in his own words for this post...
'I see my role in labour as having the ability to know what my wife is thinking before she says it. Knowing intimately her feelings and fears and reinforce her messages to the Midwifery Team. I also believe that a Dad needs to not just listen to his wife, but also to the professionals (not the 70's long running hit tv series), then weigh up the options and ensure the best option for wife and baby is implemented. It's also about injecting a bit of humour into the whole experience so taking a back seat is not really an option or what I would want anyway.

For example..
Julie: Jerry, I really need an #*?%ing Epidural! Pleeeease!
Jerry: I think it's time Julie had an Epidural.
Midwife: I think a hot bath might be a good idea at this stage.
Jerry: Okay...but I really think she needs an Epidural.
Midwife: Lets try a hot bath first
Jerry: Okay...good plan, but if she's still suffering after trying the bath, WE will want the Epidural
<30>
Julie: I tried the
#*?%ingbath, now get me an Epidural!
Jerry: Could you arrange an Epidural now please
Midwife: Yes, okay.
JOB DONE!

So, to summarise, you many want your birthing partner to 'go unnoticed', or have a breathing coach, or you may want a strong supportive partner with psychic abilities. Whatever you want, it might be useful for you to discuss what you want prior to the birth. I'm not suggesting role play (although that might be quite funny to do!) but discuss what you want to happen with various different scenarios.

One last thing, I do remember Jerry ate all my energy snacks I packed (Minstrels, Lion bars, etc) as I wasn't allowed to eat them once I'd been given an Epidural. I was SO upset about that. Jerry said he was 'doing me a favour'!! SO, make sure you take a secret stash of chocolate with you which you can gorge yourself on after the event!! Good luck one and all.
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