Childbirth Education is for Dads too

8 Things M.Y. Husband Learned From Our Childbirth Classes

I had a long 21 hour labor and home birth. My husband was a great support, and I attribute a lot of his amazingness to us taking a comprehensive childbirth class! Before said class, he wanted to stand in the corner out-of-the-way, with the midwife and I telling him what to do. Even though this was my first pregnancy, I knew that plan was not going to work for me! Here are some things that our childbirth class taught my husband:

IMPORTANCE OF RESTING

It was around 10 o’clock at night. I had contracted for about an hour, and I told my husband that I was having contractions. He was watching TV, grabbed the remote, and said I should go to bed then (We were taught in our class that if labor started at night, then try to go to sleep). So like a good student; he wanted to follow that advice. Instead, I said “yeh, I don’t think that’s gonna happen”.

Hopefully next time we will both try a little harder to heed this advice. We were both exhausted, and I remember waking him a couple of times while he was providing counter-pressure.

COUNTER-PRESSURE

Counter-pressure was amazing! I had a lot of back labor, since my son was in a posterior position. I’m not sure if we would have figured out this comfort measure without our class!

Comfort Measures

My husband applying counter-pressure

SET-UP MY BIRTH SPACE

Our instructor did not teach us specifically how to set up our birth space, but she did talk about creating a great birthing atmosphere, such as dim lights and music. He also knew not to bug me with the details and set-up the space, which was invaluable. This allowed me and baby to focus.

STAGES OF LABOR

My hubby is a Network Engineer (meaning he works with computers). He has no medical background and knew nothing about pregnancy, labor, birth, or postpartum until these classes. Knowing this information decreased his stress and allowed him to support me. Since these classes, he has also educated other men and women during conversations.

CALM

He was calm! Our classes provided us many opportunities to discuss how I deal with discomfort. He is usually a hover-er (You know – standing over you, staring and asking you every couple of seconds different annoying questions about what you need?) Well, that day he was not. He was calm, always touching me, and mostly quiet – He was just what I needed!

IMPORTANCE OF FOOD & DRINKS

He also knew to keep me hydrated. I was nauseous most of the labor, so I wouldn’t eat, but I still very thirsty. When you are in labor, you get so dry! Hydration helps a lot! After every contraction he made sure I sipped something.

IMPORTANCE OF A DOULA

We hemmed and hawed about hiring a doula most of my pregnancy once we learned that they existed. It is hard to anticipate your needs when you have never experienced labor or birth before. We decided not to hire a doula, instead we had my mom there for support. Though her behind the scenes role was helpful to my birth team, I needed more than that. My husband was an amazing support, but he had difficulty getting bathroom, rest, and food breaks because I needed continual support. After all the dust settled from our son’s birth, one of the first things my husband said was “we are hiring a doula next time”. He still reminds me of this when we discuss future pregnancies.

CONFIDENCE

Lastly, when I asked him what he gained from taking a childbirth class, he said “It gave me confidence in the birthing process. Birthing isn’t just go to the hospital, pop a kid out and go home. It is an experience of a lifetime. There is nothing like it!” To read my husband’s birth story click here.

Did you take a childbirth class? How did it help you and your partner? Comment below!

I am a doula, childbirth educator, parenting educator, nurse, and breastfeeding mother. I serve Lafayette, Eunice, Sunset, Opelousas, and surrounding areas. For more information about me and my services, visit www.MYBirthandBaby.com.

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Benefits of your partner being at your birth.

5 Reasons Your Partner Needs to be at Your Birth!

I am a doula and childbirth educator in Lafayette, LA and the surrounding areas. I love birth. I am there to support and educate you. I know tons of tricks to help a laboring woman be more comfortable. However, I will never replace your partner. Here are some reasons why your partner is crucial to your positive birth experience:

KNOWLEDGE OF YOU

Your partner knows you intimately! They know how to motivate, calm, and comfort you. This ability will be very important during the intensity of labor! Additionally, he will be able to remind your birth team of your goals when they offer interventions.

PROTECTIVE

Most couples are very protective of each other. This is important because they can be your advocate while you are deeply in labor. Ideally, there comes a time when a laboring woman stays inside herself to focus on what her and baby need to do. During this time it is helpful if your partner answers questions as needed, and minimizes interruptions.

STRENGTH

Many men, not all, are simply stronger than women. They will be able to apply that extra pressure during a hip squeeze that may make all the difference in your comfort. He will also have an easier time supporting your weight while you are in different positions as well.

OXYTOCIN

This is probably the most important reason! Your partner can stimulate your oxytocin. Oxytocin is the love hormone. Stimulating oxytocin will increase your contractions (helping your labor progress) and trigger more endorphin (this helps you cope with the sensation of pain) to be released. Your partner can help this hormone flow by hugging, being close, kissing, stimulating your nipples, holding your hand, or even sex (if you are trying to induce labor). So, for your partner to increase your love hormone, they need to be close! Your doula probably won’t get the same response . . .

SO WHY A DOULA THEN?

Your partner is going to do an awesome job supporting you! However, they may also need a break. Labors are often long. Your birth team will need to eat and go to the bathroom. However, you should not be left alone. If there is someone else besides your partner, he will be able to get breaks, while you continue to receive support. Or, you may need both people! Your partner can provide pressure while your doula gives you a massage, or vice versa.

Doulas understand birth. We have seen other women in labor and understand what is normal. We have successfully supported other women. Often your partner, unless in the medical field, does not have this knowledge or experience. Birth can be intimidating if you are not prepared (this is why a childbirth education class is also important!). A doula can reassure you of what is normal and how awesome both of you are doing!

A doula also provides answers to questions, resources, and support during pregnancy and postpartum as well, enhancing your overall experience!

 

How do you envision your partner helping you during labor? Comment below!

 

I am a certified Birth Boot Camp doula and childbirth educator, as well as a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. I practiced as a nurse for 7 years before becoming a birth worker. I’m also a wife, breastfeeding mother, and President of Louisiana Constituents for Safe Childbirth. I provide services in Lafayette, Eunice, Broussard, Youngsville, Sunset, Opelousas, Church Point, Ville Platte, and surrounding areas. For more information about me and my services, visit www.MYBirthandBaby.com

Supporting Mom While Breastfeeding

Ways to Support a First-Time Breastfeeding Mom

Mothers, in general, are biologically made to breastfeed. Breastfeeding has many health and emotional benefits for mom and baby. It can also be challenging. Mom just birthed a baby, is recovering, and is now providing 24/7 care and nutrition for this totally dependent little human. Encouragement and support from her partner, family, and friends can go a long way as she navigates this new experience. Here are some ways that you can support mom:

DO SOME READING

Read/watch breastfeeding information with mom before the baby arrives. It’s hard to help her when you don’t have the same info. You may have a better memory, you know, pregnancy-brain turned mommy/sleep-deprived-brain and all. There are many great books about breastfeeding. I loved the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. If you take a Birth Boot Camp Childbirth class, there is also a great 3.5 hour Breastfeeding DVD featuring an IBCLC.

FEED HER!

Whenever the baby eats, make sure mom also has food and a drink. I was ravenous while breastfeeding for the first few months! And so thirsty! As the baby drank, my mouth would get drier, and drier. Some mothers have breastfeeding baskets at their favorite breastfeeding locations; stock them with snacks!

CHANGE DIAPERS

Change the baby’s diaper before/during/after nursing; whatever the baby needs. Any extra second of sleep is a win for a mother with a newborn!

ENCOURAGE ONLY MOM TO FEED BABY

Don’t offer to FEED the baby. Mom is biologically made to nurse her baby, not family and friends. Though it may be exhausting the first 4-6 weeks, the frequent feeding is SO IMPORTANT in establishing a good milk supply for the rest of the breastfeeding relationship. Whenever someone else feeds baby, mom needs to pump for that feeding. Otherwise, mom’s body will not know that the baby ate, and she will eventually produce less milk. Most breastfeeding mothers would prefer to nurse than pump. Pumping requires a lot more work – Ain’t nobody got time for that 😉 For more information on what to expect in the early weeks click here.

LIMIT VISITORS

Keep nay-sayers away from mom. In fact, limit visitors. Having a fresh baby is such an exciting time! Nothing draws a crowd faster than a cute baby! However, it’s often awkward trying to learn how to breastfeed with people around all the time, especially if there are issues at first. If visitors must come, encourage brief visits and give them a task! When I had my son, church members brought food and my mom and sister helped with cleaning. This was a huge help, and allowed me to relax more!

SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE-BASED INFO

If you need to look up a question online, please search on reputable sites. Kellymom articles are by an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and evidence-based. La Leche League International (LLLI) also has great information. First-time mothers and first-time breastfeeding mothers often have many questions. Just make sure answers are correct!

HELP HER FIND A SUPPORT GROUP

La Leche League (LLL) is an international breastfeeding support group. They offer online support as well as local meetings. To find the meeting nearest you click here. The LLL Leaders are, also, often available for phone-phone support for issues. If you are in the Lafayette area, you can also join the La Leche League of Lafayette Facebook group. There is also a newly formed Community Breastfeeding Club in the Opelousas, LA area. Encourage mom to attend with, or without, breastfeeding issues. There is no replacement for woman-to-woman support!

FIND AN IBCLC

The early days after birth may be intense with the frequency of nursing, while mom is also trying to recover. So, if she is having issues with breastfeeding (latch, pain, baby losing weight . . .),help her out! An IBCLC specializes in breastfeeding, is up-to-date on evidence-based research, and went through many hours of supporting breastfeeding women to become certified.  Don’t wait! The sooner mom can get help the better!

COMPLIMENT HER!

Last, but not least, tell her how awesome she is doing! She just grew a baby, birthed a baby, and is now nurturing/nourishing him/her – this is not for the weak at heart! This is very important and exhausting work! Let her know you appreciate it and that she is AMAZING!

What was the most helpful thing you did for a breastfeeding mother? Or if you are a breastfeeding mother, what was the most helpful thing someone did for you and your breastfeeding relationship?

I am a breastfeeding, cloth diapering mother of a very active son. I teach childbirth and parenting classes in Lafayette, LA. I am also a doula and a registered nurse. To learn more information about me and my services please visit http://www.MYBirthAndBaby.com.

father holding son in the air.

5 Reasons Men Need Postpartum Groups Too!

I regularly attend monthly meetings for 4 different support groups (postpartum, breastfeeding, natural birth, and birth advocacy). I joined these groups after I had my first, and only, child. These groups have great women, conversations, and support. I often leave these meetings feeling refreshed, that I am part of a community, and supported.
As a family we experienced many changes after having our son (limited sleep, moving to a different city, my husband starting a new job, and me remaining on maternity leave, to name a few). Even if we had not experienced all those extra changes, our family still increased from two to three, and it was a pretty big deal!
I’m so grateful that I found and a part of these groups, but what about my husband? A friend of mine’s husband recently has tried to start his own dad’s group. I think this is a great idea! Here are some reasons why:

Men are going through huge transitions

Yes, I have gone through huge transitions this past year, but so has my husband. Our demanding and amazing little son has totally changed our world. While we are so grateful for our little man, we also both have needed time to process our new lives and identities. With the birth of our son, my husband became a father and primary bread-winner. Two roles with a lot of responsibility. As we have figured out our new roles, I have had great support from encouraging women. My husband on the other hand, has been left to navigate these tricky waters alone.

Men need to vent too

Life is often busy, with many ups and downs. Venting or talking is a good way to process the events of life. It’s also helpful to do said venting with people who are going through similar experiences; they are often more understanding.

Men need guy talk

Men and women often communicate differently. Yes, my husband can also talk to me, but sometimes he really just needs to speak to another guy.

Men need to do “guy” things

My husband and I have many similar interests and activities that we like to do together; but not all of them. That’s okay. We would probably drive each other crazy if we spent every moment together. Personally, I like when he gets guy time. He comes back refreshed, often with a more positive perspective. Plus, most importantly, he gets to do those boring guy things, while I don’t have to.

Men have feelings too

Often society expects men to be (and they often are), the rock, the comforter, the fixer, and the strong one. But, who is taking care of them?
What are some other reasons men need support groups? What support groups for men are near you?
I support families through pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Check out my classes and services at MY – Birth & Baby Website!
Father holding Newborn

A Guy’s Birth Story

Where do I start? My wife asked me to write my birth story. I am thinking in my head “My birth story? I didn’t give birth? What right do I have to say my birth story when my wife gave birth?”

First some background of how I used to think: I am the youngest of seven; we were all born in the hospital. My 3rd oldest and myself are the only ones born natural with no drugs. I actually was born after a cesarean (VBAC baby). I didn’t know that this was a big deal, but now it is apparently.

Home births growing up were not that common. My family was on the poor to middle class side of things. My first hearing of a homebirth was from my cousin, I thought “Why? Isn’t that dangerous? Couldn’t the baby die? I think that’s stupid and careless.” When I heard that the home birth went just fine . . . I thought, “well she’s just lucky, I guess.”

Then I lived in Germany for 8 years. Midwives and homebirths are common there.  Pregnant women are usually taken care of by midwives. Doctors take over only when surgery may happen, or the midwife consults them.

Home birth, Say what?! When we decided to have a baby, my wife said that we would be having a homebirth. I said “Why? What’s wrong with a hospital? It’s safe.” She said “Why not at home? It’s safe to have a homebirth.” She told me that only if she was high risk, then we would go to the hospital, but otherwise we can have it at home on our bed. I thought, “Oh great. On our bed with blood and mess and gore to clean up.”

She bought me some great books for first time/soon to be dads. She also signed us up for Birth Boot Camp. I thought, “I am so not into this . . . Do I have to? Look you’re the pregnant one, you go and I will stay back or I will just get in the way, I won’t know what to do . . .” Up to this point, I didn’t understand birth, my role, or my responsibilities . . .

Birth Boot Camp: We started going to Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes. It was a game changer. I learned the beauty behind birth, our options, and a fountain of birthing knowledge. It let me know that my wife was not going to do this alone and that I had a role. I was going to be there and that I needed to be there. I learned just how powerful women can be. I also gained the reassurance that women have been having babies for thousands of years – and often in their HOMES!

My Birth Story: On the night that it all started, I had worked all day and I was relaxing on the sofa. My wife was taking off to a Dancing for Birth class.  Perfect time to relax. When she came home, it was around 8:30 at night and she said she was having some contractions. So I asked if they were the real ones or the Braxton Hicks contractions. She wasn’t sure, but decided to take a bath to see if they would calm down. It didn’t. She came out of the bath and said she was still having them.

So, I thought of what I learned in class – GO TO SLEEP AS SOON AS IT BEGINS! So I say ok so we should try to get some quick sleep; notify the midwife. She said to forget the sleep; yes, call the midwife; and my back is hurting. So now I am calling the midwife and setting up the birth bath (remember to put in the liner, I totally forgot). She was having back labor (It turned out the baby’s back of head was facing her spine, instead of her stomach, but we didn’t know since the baby was always in the right position before). Around 11:00 PM we called the midwife again thinking that she was getting close to delivery and so she should come over.

My wife was in and out of the birth pool, forehead to the wall, laboring on the toilet, and the bed trying to relieve some of the back pain. I was pushing on her lower back non-stop; and when I had to pee, I would run to the toilet and before I could start she was calling for me to come and put pressure on her back. Her favorite word that night was “JEFF!” The night was a blur, morning came, and still she was not getting any closer to giving birth. She was 6 centimeters around 6 AM. I was thinking, “How is this possible? My muscles are throbbing, and my mind is dead.”

The midwife and her assistant took turns taking naps; and when I would accidentally fall asleep, they poked me while I was in the birth pool when my face was about to hit the water. My wife would also lovingly tap (AKA slap) me when she felt me falling asleep and the counter-pressure would stop.

The midwife and her assistant kept trying to get us to eat, but my wife was having none of that. She was nauseous. My wife finally got some IV fluids and we both laid on the floor and got maybe an hour of sleep before it kicked back into full labor again. Back to the pool, then to the bed, the wall, the pool . . . and it kept like this for I don’t know how long. My wife’s mother was there, laying down towels and washing the wet ones. She must have done at least 20 loads of towels.   I continued to push on her lower back, knowing that was what was needed.

Around 1:00 PM, the power went out. We assumed that it would come back on shortly. At 3:00 PM the midwife called the power company and told the worker on the phone that she was in the middle of a birth. Power came back on like 5 mins later.

Finally, my wife was fully dilated!! Then, the pushing started. I think she pushed for about 3 hours. At one point, the midwife attempted to break her water to help with pushing. This didn’t really work. At some time around 4:00 PM, I think, my wife started saying “I can’t do this. I am done.” I stayed with her saying “yes, you can.” (This was the reason for me to be there; to be her support).

In the end, it was on the toilet that the most progress was gained. We saw my son’s hair just barely sticking out. The midwife told my wife that we needed to move her to the birth chair and that she couldn’t have the baby on the toilet. My wife simply said “Watch me.” The midwife, her assistant and I all grabbed her, lifted, and moved her quickly to the chair. I think the midwife told her to slow down, but I don’t remember. My wife was done and wanted the baby out, so slowing down was not an option. She powered through the contraction and out came my son at 6:02 PM. I didn’t know what to do when he was coming out or how to catch him, but the midwife was on spot. The cord was wrapped around him 3 times. He was fine though. He was bloody from my wife tearing, but he was so amazing. I had tears coming down my face. So happy to see him, and so happy that the marathon was over. My wife tore fairly badly due to my son being “sunny-side up”, or occiput posterior. The birth was over 21 hours; time well spent.

Afterbirth: I know now that birthing in the hospital is not the only way, and neither is being at home. Your birth location should be wherever you are comfortable. For us, it was home. I would never recommend doing a homebirth without taking an actual comprehensive birth class. I will also never do another birth without a doula. A doula could have told us better positions to try, to make my wife more comfortable, and maybe even speed up the labor! She could have also given me a BATHROOM break!

It has been 15 months since the birth. I still feel and see the birth when I think about it. It was a challenge that we accomplished together. To me, birth is both man and woman, together in unison, working to bring a new life into the world. As men, and soon-to-be fathers, we need to learn our part. Being that guy in the waiting room is like missing out on your wedding kiss. I know I will never be that guy. I will be there and I will be involved (with the help of my doula)!