By Chiqui Brosas-Hahn*
“It takes two to Tango.”
Cliché. Yes, yet very applicable especially for birthing couples. No, we are not talking about who is to blame for the addition of another family member but of the ability of the mother to successfully hurdle a painful, energy-draining, and emotionally wrenching phase of her life, in one piece. Knowing that childbirth causes significant physical, emotional and even spiritual strain to the mother, there is no better support to be had than that coming from the father of her child.
Gone are the days when spouses/partners are shunned from the delivery room and are made to succumb to the agony of waiting and are merely constrained to just pace back and forth to pass time until the baby finally comes out. Modernized methods of childbirth, particularly the Bradley method being the first staunch proponent of a husband’s presence inside the delivery room, paved way to allow a partner or a family member to be beside the birthing mother to support the latter go through labor. In fact, studies show that having a partner or a close friend or relative beside the mother aside from the usual physician reduces the Caesarean rate by 50%, the epidural rate by 60%, forceps deliveries by 30%, and length of labor by 25%. Also, having a supportive partner or doula dramatically increases the chances of a successful breastfeeding for longer periods of time and reduces, if not eliminate, postnatal depression.
So what makes the presence of a partner during the delivery sensible? First, the husband’s mere presence provides comfort and support for the wife. Second, the husband can ensure that the wife’s birth plan, especially her preferences, is essentially followed. Third, the delivery enables the husband to bond with the child immediately at birth.
“My hubby was there when I had our first child and I can tell you it has been a kind of bond between us.”- This kind of comment is often usual from a mother who experienced childbirth with the father of her child beside her. The comfort and support extended by the husband while the wife is in labor is unimaginable. Scientists explain that the continuous support from the husband promotes the steady release of endorphins in the mother, causing her to relax and ultimately dramatically decrease the amount of pain she experiences. Contrary to a mother who handles labor all by herself, the anxiety alone initiates adrenaline response which shuts down endorphin release.“When the pain kicks in and I'm screaming for an epidural, he would be the one to deal with the nurses and tell them NO.” The husband can be the wife’s second line of defense. His being there by the wife’s side reassures her that she would be getting the birth she always wanted especially during her lowest and weakest moments when she is susceptible to giving up. Since the couple loves and trusts each other, the wife can depend on the husband to make decisions for the her.
Lastly, witnessing a child's birth is a life-changing event for most fathers. This enables them to realize how hard it is to bring a child into this world, learn how vulnerable he is and how dependent he can be of his parent’s care and love.
Many mothers vouch for the soothing and reassuring effect of having someone assist them during their pregnancies. Considering the advantages of such, it is high time for couples to make real their vow that they will be together through thick and thin—hence, now is the best time to mull over a husband-coached childbirth. Happy birthing!
*Chiqui Brosas-Hahn is a USA Trained Childbirth Educator, having attended several International Childbirth Education Association conventions in the USA and having finished a full course of the Bradley Method as an instructor. She has been teaching childbirth classes for at least eighteen years.