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Childbirth - Something For Every Man

By Edited Nov 19, 2016 1 0

Man Caring for Unborn Child
Credit: http://www.thumbtack.com/va/manassas/child-birth-classes/natural-childbirth-classes
One day, at the end of a long shift at work, a co-worker of mine told me that his wife is pregnant, and due any time now. Obviously, he was very excited and nervous about that.
Another colleague asked if he's going to cut the umbilical cord himself. His answer was no, he doesn't want to be around that at all.
He wasn't arrogant about it, but rather he seemed uncertain. I could tell that the question has made him feel uncomfortable, and maybe he hasn't even thought of it before.

I thought he didn't want to deal with even the question itself, because he had simply no idea what that means. He's a good guy, kind and funny, never says anything bad about anyone. I'm sure he'll make a fantastic dad.

His reluctance to even get into this question, however, raised an important question for myself:
How involved should a man be with the birth of his children?
 
This article is conceived from my opinion, based on interactions with my fiancée. I've given an effort to understand her position towards this topic, which has formed a personal outlook. Many might disagree with my stance between high versus low-intervention, and that is completely acceptable. The last thing I want to do is judge, and I believe strongly in women's right to choose what is happening to them and their bodies within our modern medical system.

Birth Humor
Pregnancy, as well as the act of child-birth, is something that only a woman can do. Nobody can do it for her. It's her journey, her strength and, of course, her body she has to trust.

But does that mean that we, the men, are only as involved as the far as the conception goes? Shouldn't men, too, learn what it means for their women to be pregnant, to give birth?
I believe so. It's our time to be as supportive, respecting and as understanding as we can be.

I'm not a father, nor are children in my immediate future as of now. However, the topic comes up quite often between my fiancée, Anna, and I.
Planing to become a midwife, she's very passionate about childbirth, women's health and our modern understanding of these and related issues. Ever since we met, I have been made aware of the importance of a proper understanding of childbirth, not just for the female population.
And I'm glad for it.

To me it seems like the process of birth in our modern conception means hospitals, medication, pain regulation and sterilization. It has become much like surgery.

This is something that I just recently started to think about. I mean, birth, hospitals, epidural and OB/GYN are pretty common terms, and they've always gone together like this.

Obstetrics and gynaecology, OB/GYN, two terms that describe the surgical–medical specialties dealing with the female reproductive organs.

Maybe I'm naïve, but I also simply assumed that surgery is a medical practice to treat or investigate conditions, such as disease or injury, or to prevent fatalities and death. It wasn't until recently that I put two and two together, and realized that giving life is, too, now handled with this very invasive, and not seldom radical, approach. When did pregnancy become something that is wrong with the woman, an illness, disease or injury?

There's many ways for women to get educated about alternative, low-intervention ways. And I, for one, strongly encourage them to at least check it out. Though, nobody should be judged for choosing the hospital for respect and trust into the medical system, or having to choose it due to high-risk circumstances.

But what does all of that mean for us men? Personally, I believe it's very important for a man to be part of the process throughout.

Medical intervention or not, I find our modern approach to birth has pushed the man into the background, leaving him somewhat disconnected to what's going on. Of course, he will sit with the doctor and go over ultrasounds, or even be there at the final hours during the birth.

Though, just like my co-worker, they are uncertain of what any of that means.

Because a surgeon is the most important person next to the woman at that time. And because the woman will be under drugs, poked with needles and decorated in tubes and lines. There might be more nurses than family members, because the amount of visitors may be restricted.
This can leave the man not just physically, but also emotionally disconnected. Pregnancy becomes a process of appointments and schedules, of due dates and tests. And at the end of it all, it's a wait in the hospital waiting room, where the man is left to but his own imagination of the things to come.

The wife being put into the hospital, wheeled into a room that's sterile and full of surgical equipment becomes a horrific image. What's really the difference between her being hit by a car, or her giving birth, at this point? She is in a lot of pain, there are doctors, nurses, flashing instruments, IV-lines and all the bells and whistles for life-saving surgery. It's terrifying. It's dangerous, and nothing but panic.
Of course, often this approach has saved lives, that otherwise would have been lost. An expecting mother can fall into a high-risk category, in which case surgical intervention becomes needed to ensure the survival of both mother and child. A caesarean section can be the one thing between life and death.

C-Section Cartoon
Though it's not always necessary, yet still, many mothers and doctors opt for this, regardless.
I understand that sometimes an aggressive intervention is better than the loss of life. But I'm certain that any kind of medical intervention has a potential for negative consequences, and if it's not needed, it shouldn't be done.
It's not an improvement, but a convenience. Now people can schedule a birth, cut the cord, clean the baby, and then everyone can get home at a decent time.

There's series of studies and documentaries about the health and risk factors of high-intervention birth, and though I'm surely not qualified myself to talk about that here, I highly encourage everyone to dig a littler deeper and develop an informed opinion about this subject.
As a man, it has changed my naïve, and properly ignorant attitude about something so important, so empowering.

Again, this is my opinion. Of course, I wouldn't judge anybody for choosing the hospital over a birthing centre or home birth. It has worked out for the majority of people to go to the hospital, and I believe the choice should always be that of the individual woman.
 
Regardless of the choice, the men should always try to be a part of it. A man should learn what the woman wants, what she needs, whether she wants to go a hospital or trust in a midwife.
It's an important and often very hard decision to make for a woman. I can imagine that having a supporting man, that is willing to inform himself about the pros and cons of either ways is something that brings the couple closer, involving the man more in the process, and reducing the fear and uncertainty of giving birth.

I've become a strong supporter of the idea of low-intervention birth. This is simply an extension of my general opinion towards medical intervention in our normal lives.
Myself, I hardly take a pill for a headache, because I've always felt strongly that more is less when it comes to medication. I think we shouldn't be taking medicine unless it's really needed. Never have I taken even the most common pill of ibuprofen for granted as a daily product.

Now that I started to look at birth as something that I can be part of, not something I have to wait out, it's easier
for me to be less uncertain of the process; hospital or no hospital.

My fiancée wants to have a midwife. Unfortunately, due to medical regulations, there can be a lot of risk factors, that might prevent that from being possible. I, for one, really hope for that to work out, because it will allow me to be more involved. I want this to be an intimate experience for both Anna and I.
 
Childbirth Classes
Her health is the single most important thing to me in this relationship, and I believe that low intervention, a dedicated midwife that wants a baby to be born, not to be forced, into this world is the way to archive that.
Of course there'll be pain. It's intense and bloody.
Though, if she wasn't at a high-risk state to begin with, why treat her like she is, anyways?

However, when it comes down to it, and intervention becomes necessary to insure her wellbeing, I can, hopefully, be able to be at her side without this terrifying feeling of uncertainty. Because I paid interest in her life, her health and the system surrounding it.
 
Giving life, in its essence, is neither surgery, or a sickness, nor an emergency. I was made aware of that, and I don't want to be a man, that is afraid of what his wife is going through. Instead, I want to be there, physically as well as emotionally.

And for the sake of my future unborn child, and for the woman I love, I'd like to leave the hospital gowns and surgeon tools for when they're truly needed to prevent a life from being taken.

By the way, the colleague, that first asked our co-worker about the umbilical cord and sparked this thought process of mine, he too said he was uncertain of all of this.
But in the end, he said, he did cut the cord himself.  
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