Sunday, July 19, 2009

How to Give Birth

From the UK this week we have learnt two things when it comes to giving birth.

1.) We should not have an epidural.

2.) Our husbands should wait outside.

The first point was brought to you by Dr Denis Walsh, a male midwife and the second point was brought to you by Dr Michel Ordent, a male Obstetrician. You can read the full text of the article covering old mate Denis's views here and our buddy Michael's point can be found here.

What are your thoughts? For me my thoughts are simple. Firstly you must do whatever is in the best interests of the little life you are guarding and then secondly you should do whatever makes you most comfortable. In that order. Pain relief, no pain relief. Husband, no husband. I don't have a view. I think you've got to go with your gut and do what's right for you. *Just re-read that. Get out, I'm a poet!*

Not sure I agree with the sentiment that men should not comment when it comes to advising women how to birth their children, that the absence of female reproductive organs renders their opinion moot. That doesn't make sense to me. It would be like saying female doctors can't advise men with prostate cancer. However a funny comment I read was that men who think women should just suck it up and tolerate the pain in order to better bond with their baby should also suck it up and tolerate the pain of a drug free vasectomy to better bond with their sterility. Nice.

What do you think? Is there are right way and a wrong way and should dad wait outside with a cigar and a maybe a relaxing book?


  1. geeze,

    uh! . . . uhm . . . no pain/outside.

    is this a personality test thingy?

    'cause if it is, we're wimps. :-0


  2. I don't normally comment, but my husband and I have been discussing this. I am of the opinion that the safest option for your child is the best option. Pain fades. The ramifications of over medicating doesn't. Now, that doesn't mean that a mother can't have pain medication, let's face it, that HURTS. The child should be foremost in the mind.

    As for the new father, I asked that my husband be standing up by my head. I don't want him down there in my business (him passing on out the floor won't help the process), but I do want him to get to experience his child's first moment in this world with me. I want my child to be surrounded by family and love from the first breath it takes, whether it knows it or not. (But not from the vantage point of my business)

  3. Interesting articles. In the early 90's, when I had my first two daughters, epidurals were simply not given as an option for pain, nor were medications. Women simply sucked it up and delivered completely naturally.

    In the late 90's, when I had my twins, epidurals were all the rage, and the doctor kept asking me if I wanted one. Having done it twice before without, I declined. I told myself the pain was a part of the process and I could handle it.

    As for dad not being in the husband drove me crazy the first two times! When I had the twins, I laid on my right side (he was standing on the left), ignored him and everything around me and concentrated on every contraction and lo and behold, those two babies were born in under 3 hours.

    I don't advocate fathers being kicked out of delivery rooms, but I do think they need to be educated about the roles they play. Some women may simply need them to shut up and just be there. I did.

  4. I find myself agreeing with you. Though I would put a delivering woman's health on par with or slightly ahead of that of the baby (That I think would be a minor disaggreement).

    When will doctors/midwives stop prescribing one set routine for every labouring woman? Surely if one can boast about 50 years of service and 15000 births it would not be difficult to acknowledge that, while they all follow roughly the same pattern, every birth is different.

    That being said though, I think it is refreshing to have a doctor allow/encourage a woman to not feel obligated to have someone/anyone with her giving birth. My husband balked at the idea of not being there and I think was rather offended. I would enjoy having this doctor around to "put his foot down" as it were. And don't even get me started about my MIL wanting to be there... yikes.

  5. I can only say what worked for me (and that was 37 and 35 years ago!). LaMaze was a new thing at that time, and I was a case study for a nurse who was getting certified. I had both of my sons using Lamaze (No drugs, husband present and coaching me). I thought it was a wonderful experience and I really felt it was a bonding experience for the babies and their dad. Interesting enought, both my sons have been present for their babies births as well, though I have no idea about the drug part..didn't feel it my business to ask. What ever route taken..all are healthy!

  6. I am so glad that my hubby was with me and as for right and wrong, I believe it is only natural to do it without an epidural. The unfortunate part of that is that our modern medical system won't seem to let you. I imagine it has something to do with staff convenience and epidural revenue.

  7. Like you, I don't think there is a right way to give birth. I think woman should do whatever is best for them and their child.

    I have two children. With my son I got an epidural and that was my choice then. The second time around I knew I did not want an epidural because of the things it did the first time, like leave my left leg completely numb for 2 whole days. So I gave birth to my daughter naturally, and that was the best choice for us that time around.

    As far as the father not being in the room, I think I would not like if my husband choose to stick it out lol, I need him there for support. I know my husband wanted to be part of his child coming into the world, I mean he was there we made them :).

    So that's my opinion....

  8. In my opinion there are many right ways and wrong ways to give birth. I wholeheartedly agree that first priority is the safety of the baby and mother, second is mother's comfort. Fortunately they are not mutually exclusive! You don't get a prize for denying yourself pain relief, and neither are you a bad mother for choosing it.

    As for fathers being present, I feel strongly that it should be encouraged (nicely of course) if for no other reason than support for the mother. No matter how good your maternity carers are, they don't have the same emotional investment in you and your baby that your husband/partner has. I wanted my husband with me, but he didn't have to watch the business end (Heck, I didn't want to watch that!).

    As to men advising women how to birth their children, well I have no problem with most of it, but it did kind of infuriate me that a male doctor can blithly say that women should go through birth pain as a rite of passage and to help them bond with their baby when he doesn't have to do it himself.

  9. I think as you do - go with your gut!! I didn't end up needing an epidural with my 4 births, but I am so glad I had hubby with me for all 4 - he was needed!

  10. I think one should research as much as possible about whether or not to medicate before entering the delivery suite. There are risks for either option.

    I wanted safe delivery first and foremost, but I was not opposed to having pain relief if needed. Maternal distress can have complications too. I do not believe putting up with pain makes you a better mother.

    Though my waters had broken, there were no contractions. This increased the risk of an infection so I had to be induced. Which involved being hooked up to a drip, a catheter and basically being in bed and waiting.

    When the labour pains started, it was PAINFUL. I was in labour for 18 hours. Breathing exercises only helped a little, and it was hours later before I decided to try some nitrous oxide, which only made me dizzy and nauseous.

    8 hours before my daughter was born I had an epidural. It was great and allowed me to have a rest. Perhaps I could have put up with the pain, if I wasn't so exhausted by this stage. I was in pain, unable to have food, unable to walk the pain off (because of the catheter - sorry, too much info?) and was only 3 cm dilated for AGES. When my obstetrician told me it was still only 3 cm, I nearly cried.

    My husband was there with me the whole time. He was fantastic and I needed the support. It would have been that much harder, if he wasn't with me.

  11. As so many things should be...
    the answer is subjective.
    However, personally, I have had four daughters.
    The first three I had with the help of an epidural.
    The last one I had without any meds at all.
    I must say, having experienced birthing both ways-
    All four girls are perfectly brilliant, equally lovely.
    As for my husband attending the births, he was present for all four. The first three he spent cracking jokes and distracting the doctor and nurses from the MAIN ATTRACTION!
    The last birth he wishes he had not been present b/c I literally bit him (refer back to the lack of pain meds).

  12. Nothing can be more personal of a choice than the choices we make during labor. I had both of my children at home with a midwife. I don't know that I could do a hospital birth unmedicated. The enviroments are so drastically different. At home I had a number of positions,and techniques to less the pain. I'm not gonna lie- it hurts without pain meds. For me though- it was worth it. I had a bright eyed baby both times, with no complications, and the satisfaction of knowing I did what I believed to be best for my child. As far as the daddy situation- our poor men need to be trained. I NEVER could have done what I did without my husband their. He was a tower of strength, and an unwavering servant (water, and backrubs, and heating pack reheated, and support for standing- ect ect ect). But he knew what to expect, and knew how to help ahead of time. We also had a great midwifery team that passed him hints of what to do the whole time. In the end it resulted in a great experience for both of us, that not only brought us closer together- but gave us one of the greatest gifts ever!

  13. When it comes to me... I planned not to get the epidural but I did. Partly because my husband was there and said 'hey, just get it ok!' and partly because I NEEDED it.

    That being said- for my comfort and joy, I like having my hubby there by my side. Yet- it was partly his fault I got the epidural. Take your pick.

  14. I've never posted a comment before, but my obstetrician is quoted in the article about epidurals.

    I'd hoped not to need an epidural, but when the time came I did need one (and it was delicious!)

    Afterwards, Dr Weaver came and spoke to me about my labour and the epidural. He said that this is what modern medicine is about - fifty years ago my daughter and I would have died.

    I think that epidural (and all pain relief) in labour is a personal choice that can only be made by the individuals involved. There's plenty of judgement surrounding motherhood without starting in the delivery room.

    I count myself lucky to have access to good health care where an epidural is an option.

    On men in the delivery room: I loved having my husband with me to meet our daughter, but even he would admit he was in the way for a lot of the time!