I have a friend – someone I’d met in Prague – who is pregnant and has been battling her doctors to try for a natural birth. She’s pregnant with twins, which, to many OB’s means automatic c-section because, quite frankly, OB/GYN’s no longer have the skills to deliver twins (the same with breech babies.) Literally. They’re no longer taught these things in medical school. (Unlike traditional midwives, who do still retain these skills.) In any case, so far she’s winning the chance to try and it has NOT been an easy fight to win. (Sound ridiculous, right? A woman can’t just say “I want a natural birth,” and have it be so? I’m immensely happy for her – it thrills me every time I hear about a woman empower herself & arm herself with knowledge and the confidence to stand up to her ob/gyn to fight for the birth she wants. Too many times, women are manipulated & scared into going along with whatever the ob says. I don’t blame these women, at all – it’s easy to be scared into (or out of) things when your life & your child are involved. Unfortunately, ob/gyns simply don’t know all the facts and don’t have our best interests at heart.)
Her next obstacle was her boyfriend, the father of her children. She’d told me that he was starting to get scared, because she’d been reading books about **unassisted birth (which is exactly what it sounds like), in case the doctors would continue to fight her and not allow her to attempt natural birth. Natural birth, alone, sounded a bit frightening, when standing there listening to a doctor explain all the things that can go wrong, the reasons they want to do a c-section.
I also just read something on Twitter, where a woman wanted to do a home birth, but her husband was against the idea. Many women responded, including me. And rather than just re-explain myself here (lest anyone out there reading this be in the same situation), I’ll just paste my email response to my friend, regarding men & natural/home birth:
Mr Nikki and I got into a huge fight the day we talked to our Doula, who’d told me she really sensed that I wanted to have a home birth. She said I should think about it, but we needed to decide quickly, since my due date was only a few weeks away. It hit me, then, that I DID really want a home birth and I said so, but Mr Nikki was TERRIFIED at the idea. We fought for a few hours, actually. I just kept throwing this & that research at him and information about how safe home birth was. I understood where he was coming from, but I held firm. And this is why I suggest a doula again – they’re trained to not only help you through your birth, but to talk to the fathers, as well. My doula was able to talk to me & help me understand how Mr Nikki was feeling, and help HIM understand how I was feeling. She said some really interesting things about how women focus very much on the EXPERIENCE and having a good experience comes before risk. Where men always think about risk first, and it’s not really worth “the experience” to be at risk. Men are very protective – Mr Nikki had even told me he was afraid of something happening to me.
So, your boyfriend means well, though it’s infuriating when you feel like they aren’t totally on your side. I think it’s probably even harder for you because it doesn’t sound as though you’ve found much support for a natural birth, it’s all just you. I was lucky to have found our doula and her network – a group of women who’d dealt with home births many, many times and were able to really answer every question that Mr Nikki had about safety, etc. That really helped put his mind at ease and get him on board and now he’s all about home birth! Is there anyone you have around there that might be able to talk to him and answer questions? If you can even just find other women who’ve done home and/or unassisted births?
I actually just talked to Mr Nikki about this, this morning after I read your messages, and he said he knows that if we’d gone to a hospital, he’d have gotten scared and given in at the slightest sign of “trouble” (according to doctors) instead of thinking about whether it was truly “trouble”, and would have ignored my wishes. Men are just not as brave as women are for this sort of thing. We’re all instinct & feeling, where they’re all “Me. Man. Must. Protect.” And no matter how much they love us and how much we explain, they can’t ever really understand how important the idea of having a good birth “experience” is.
See? While I am a rebellious creature, I didn’t totally discount how Mr Nikki was feeling. And no woman should totally discount how the father (if he’s involved, that is) feels about it. If you want a home birth, but the man in your life is looking pale about it all, the best thing you can do is listen to him, let him voice his fears and most importantly – let him talk to the midwife and ask all the questions he wants, without you interrupting. Truly, even if he seems he’s fighting against your wishes, he’s doing it out of love.
** Aah, unassisted birth. Like I said, it is what it sounds like. My Doula had said that she’d pushed me about the home birth, because she’d sensed that I just might do something crazy like not go to the hospital out of defiance or avoidance of all the things I didn’t want. I don’t know if I’d have gone that far – I won’t speak out against unassisted birth, because, to each their own. Our first lactation consultant had 5 children – the last 3 were unassisted. I, personally, wouldn’t feel comfortable enough to do it – at the very least, I’d want a midwife in the other room for in case we needed her. And if you think unassisted birth sounds crazy, just imagine then, how important natural birth is to women if they’re willing to go to these lengths to get it.