Why Men/Partners Are So Important In Pregnancy & Labour

Woman at the ninth month of pregnancy.

Woman at the ninth month of pregnancy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I’ll lay it on the line. There have been times when I’ve thought that women get the bum deal with all this. You sign up for a 9 month in utero tenancy agreement with no prior knowledge of the tenant. You endure morning sickness/all day nausea, an unwanted insurgence of hormones, your body shape is held hostage to your tenant’s whims, you are banned from booze / frolicking in saunas /most yummy foods. Your hips feel like they belong to an 80 year old, your organs get shifted into your oesophagus (seriously look at the pic on the right, where else can they go), you’re at increased risk at loosing teeth and you play Russian roulette on the state of your skin/hair/stretch marks… body ever return from the field in one piece. Other than physically, your career tends to take a hit (and no, it’s not a ‘break’) which is delightfully coupled with a complete reduction in your wage and often dependency for handouts from your partner (no really, I love begging). The only light at the end of the tunnel is through one form of pain or another (you know it’s bad when some women prefer mild electrocution or elective partial paralysis!) and there really is no way out for 9 months!

So, despite all the right noises coming from men (this is our child, we made this baby, our family) forgive us when you are not met with sympathy about:

  • How hard  life has been for you for the last 9 months, you’ve had to make sacrifices
  • When you’ve been on a night out and insist on melting our faces when you pass out next to us
  • Despite the pregnancy, we still wind up doing most of the house work and picking up socks you still can’t quite get into the laundry basket
  • Yes sometimes you will need to figure out what to make us for dinner
  • The Active Birthing class we really want you to join us in, that you sulk and drag your heels to like a 5 year old
  • The questions you pose about our financial decisions (with our own money). Do you really need that item of clothing? Do you really need to buy yourself a congratulatory gift for the last nine months? In a word, yes. As much as you like to spend your money on what you like, so do we. However we suddenly realise that in the run up to child birth our (predominantly my) bank account will never be the same again and there after most expenditure goes on the bundle of joy.
  • Your huffing and puffing at the new, unfair invention of push presents. It would just be really nice to get a token of your appreciation rather than a pat on the back followed by a ‘told you that would be easy, you were born for this!… Where’s dinner?’

Having said all of that. This is not a man bashing post (believe it or not). The above is a bit of an insight into just how much things change for us, less for you and why sometimes you may think we’re being a bit sharp or ‘over-reacting’. We’ve been growing a baby inside us for 9 months and have had a steady build up. You however I would describe as having been a passive pregnancy passenger for several months, observing changes but not really being able to get that involved… and then BOOM! Suddenly you need to jump into action at one of the most intense stages. I can understand if its a little bewildering and feels like it comes out of nowhere.

I want to tell you why you/our men are so important towards the end of our pregnancy and during labour. 

Both my NCT classes and my Active Birthing classes, very importantly included partners. As much as some of them really didn’t want to be there, good on you for at least turning up… having said that I know it’s not a computer game, but please try and engage. It’s important because although we’ll be going through the stages of labour, the pain and some pretty exciting birthing positions, if you know what we’re doing/what’s happening you’ll be less freaked out, more in control and able to help… and isn’t that what you like to do? Help to fix things? Well now’s your chance!

Lead up to labour. Reality is baby will come when it’s ready but that really could be at anytime. The nesting instinct will make us (and possibly you too) want to clean and organise the house so everything is ready for the new arrival. However I think this is coupled with another mental shift. We will probably start getting ready to go into labour anytime from around 4 weeks before the due date. I definitely started to notice greatly restricted mobility from about week 37 and a feeling of vulnerability, which is why hubbies become so important in their role of support and reassurance in these last weeks. Reassurance comes from you being organised with the practical things well ahead of schedule in case of an early arrival. Now is not the time to think ‘I’ll figure it out later/on the day’, we want to know you’ve taken responsibility for it and it’s sorted. From our point of view, here are a few of the thoughts that will be going through our heads in the lead up:

  1. I know when the day arrives I’ll be getting waves of contractions that will be incapacitating and I won’t be able to pay attention to anything else.
  2. If you delay me getting to the hospital because you didn’t do something or forgot something I will beat you with your own fist.
  3. I don’t want to be waiting/hanging around other people/exposed in any situation when it all kicks off (I want to know it’s all happening smoothly… and don’t try lying, worst idea)

During labour. The best things you will have done to prepare yourself for this moment is to have gone to the classes and engaged. You’ll know what’s coming and it’s still all the practical stuff that you can help with: making sure we have all we need in the hospital bag, batteries for the TENS unit, massage, taking control of what we need in the labour ward/birthing centre, making sure we eat/drink and pee.

With this is mind, you – men/hubbies/partners have an amazing amount of power to help us towards the end, but you just don’t realise it. This is the time for you to step up and really be able to effect something important so please don’t take this stage lightly… embrace it!

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