Wednesday, 5 September 2007

More thoughts on labour

Thank you all for your interesting thoughts about pain relief in labour. It is a vast subject and one that generates much thought and discussion. I can vividly remember my own experiences of labour (three times) although I cannot begin to describe the pain, I can remember the moment of giving birth and the feelings that evoked. I actually did have Pethidine and entonox for all 3 labours and thank goodness for that! There is no way I could have gone through labour without anything as I had long labours with all my children and in those days (20 odd years ago and counting) there was not much choice. In fact, the whole attitude, and this was from the midwives as well, was that you ‘put up’ and ‘shut up’. You were very much left to just get on with it. Labour and birth was a process and a ‘job of work’ to be got on with and there was no room for discussion and debate.

How very different to now when women are given all the information they need and their progress in labour is discussed all the way through both with the woman and her partner. This, of course, is how it should be. Giving birth used to be a very lonely process not so long ago. Even your partner could not be there let alone a friend or birth companion.

Interestingly, there has been quite a debate recently about the presence of male partners in the delivery room suggesting that the outcome of labour does not always result in a vaginal delivery when a male partner is around and some birth gurus have even gone on to suggest that there may be a link between the soaring caesarean section rate and the presence of a male partner. This is because, the male partner tries to rationalise the birth process and keeps trying to talk to his partner which interrupts the natural flow of the birth hormones. This is just one theory, there are many more.

It would be interesting to hear your views, thoughts and experiences.


Anonymous said...

I almost think that I could not have done it withOUT my male partner present. He was so in tune with me, he was like a doula! In fact, I found his emotional and physical support better than the midwives (although they were okay).

I am kidn of a spiritual midwifery type who believes in the vibes that got the baby in are best to get the baby out.

I also see how my partner is exceptional and it's possible that too many cooks can spoil the broth, or throw off the hormonal loop of a laboring mom as Michel Odent theorizes.

Ethel said...

I think there is some truth to that. My husband who I love dearly may have compromised my progression in both my labors as he has a hard time staying in the moment. His response to my laboring was to run off to get a meal, or in the second birth, to go home to take care of our oldest even though grandma was taking good care of him.

My first labor stalled out at 4cm after 24 hours and pitocin drip, and with beta strep positive and leaking amniotic fluids (hence the drip to start labor) we ended up with a c-section. At that time we were still newlyweds, 1 year, and his lack of confidence was somewhat overwhelming.

With the second birth, I enlisted the help of a doula, who helped my husband stay in the moment and not run off. She was able to provide him some concrete observations of what was going on and my progression, as well as her past experience as reference. He was much more able to stay emotionally with me and in the labor, and while he was overwhelmed emotionally he stayed with all the feelings he was having. And I was successful in delivering vaginally our second baby, and I had the confidence that was lacking before.

If my husband had been a better coach (and I don't want to blame him for the c-section, there were multiple things that occurred to send us on that path) and had more confidence both in me and himself and was better able to stay with what he was feeling I think I would have responded better to the pitocin and the excess pain that it brings. A woman who had given birth before and believed in my ability to deliver naturally (I know, with augmentation) would have been a better labor partner in retrospect.