Water babies: A word from James
James wanted to weigh in with his thoughts on the water babies video:
Considering that billions of women in the past few years have given birth, many of whom seem to be in South West London AKA ‘Nappy Valley’, I’m amazed at how clueless I am about the actual birthing of a child. I’ve seen screaming women in the movies, I’ve had friends tell me their experiences involving lots of bodily fluids being splattered on the walls, but I’ve never actually seen it. Perhaps, from the Dad’s perspective, maybe the first time to see a childbirth may not be at the actual birth. Duh.
One thing I learnt from being forced to watch the 80’s-tastic water birthing film (which incidentally interrupted my reading of Robert Harris’s brilliant Enigma), was that my whole purpose during the 10 to 20 hours of labour is to BE CALM!
I’ve been freaking out a bit lately at the idea of standing in a very medical-looking operating room all scrubbed up wearing a surgeon’s mask with Julia on her back and strapped into stirrups. I’d been told at NCT and by my mother that I have to try to make Julia’s experience as nice as possible. How could being somewhere that looks like the set of ER be conducive to having a ‘nice time’? How could Julia even recognise me when I look like everyone else in the room? Well, I think I’ve had a bit of a wake up call. What the zen-like 80’s birthing film make so blindingly obvious is that, unless things go a bit pear-shaped it shouldn’t have to be like that.
When Julia and I were being given a tour of Kingston hospital, I had a brief look at the birthing rooms and, at the time, I was confused as to why they had a big rope hanging from the ceiling with knots on it, like we had in our gym class 25 years ago, and a big chair with the seat cut away. Oh. Right. I’ve just got it. Epiphany. Giving birth doesn’t have to be like the extreme drama of the movies with doctors and forceps and everyone screaming and dads fainting. What I saw today was several soon-to-be dads hugging, kissing, massaging and joking with the soon-to-be mums who were in a lot of pain. Finally, I think I have understood my job on the day. To make Julia as relaxed as I possibly can, which, if the last 8 years is anything to go by, usually involves massages and making her laugh.
I have no doubt Julia will make me write something about my experiences when I’ve had them, but having just watched half a dozen births, admittedly from 20 years ago, I feel a bit happier about what I need to do. My plan is to get her to hospital and make sure that she is able to enjoy and endure the experience as much as possible. Absolutely no idea yet how to do that, and as soon as I figure it out I’ll let you know.
If you’re a dad-to-be reading this, you’ve probably just done what I do with EVERY book and blog that Julia makes me read: you’ve jumped to the end to get the box-out summary.
SUMMARY FOR DADS
- Dads-to-be, the scary birth is NOT what it looks like in the movies. No doctors, just midwives (unless there are complications)
- Watch some films of other people giving birth, so you don’t freak out on the day. See what the dads are doing well or badly so you’re not a useless waste of space.
- The calmer you are then the calmer your staggeringly pregnant wife will be. She is going to be in pain. The more useful you are in making her feel happier about everything, the quicker it’s all over.
Advice served. Would love to hear what worked for you in helping your partner.