Birth Story – Paul

• Labouring at home with just my partner and I was a beautiful thing. Could really sink into the rhythm of being there for my partner when she needed me.

• Called hospital to tell them we were coming and they insisted on talking to April even though I had said the labour was progressing normally. Immediately felt out of the loop.

• Drove to hospital with April in the back seat mooing and was once again felt I was back in the loop and feeling connected to the process again.

• Arrived at the hospital and went to check in. after 15 mins in the check in area we were admitted. April was joined by second birthing partner Therese who is also an acupuncturist.

• Arrived into birthing suite and meconium was found. Immediately April was given a telemetry strap to keep tabs on the babies heart rate. This ended up throwing out any hopes of water relief which we were counting on ie; showers or birthing pools as the equipment was too expensive and wasn’t allowed to be submerged for extended periods. Felt a little ripped off.

(Side note: Xavier’s heart rate very very rarely fluctuated and seemed calm as April was calm – funny that). The telemetry strap was always slipping or coming off which caused a lot of annoying adjustments and had to have someone constantly holding it.

• Labouring was continuing as normal but felt hopeless and the general vibe was that the dad should just kinda sit there and let the hospital midwives do their job. Therese also felt she was in a similar position.

• There was no interaction, to a degree, from the midwife in what i could do to help ie; back rubs, acupressure points, general encouragement, massage. Basically felt I was there to fill up the water, adjust the telemetry strap and keep the music playing.

• A shower was attempted but after 10 mins of fiddling in the shower with the stupid straps on the telemetry machine it seemed to cause more stress and we returned to the birth suite.

• After 5 hours of labouring April had dilated “only” 5cm and I was taken aside and told “she is dilating slowly and this can cause the baby to go into fetal distress. I was pulled out of the room by myself and told “the best thing for her now is to induce with oxytocin in order to get the baby out as quick as possible.”

Stupidly i agreed, even though our birth plan strictly stated “no medical intervention”, but felt that there was a strong possibility that I could lose our yet unborn son due to the sense of urgency that was being put upon us to “get this baby out!”

A doctor came in and put in an IV which she botched on one hand and then just “threw” one in the other hand. She hardly engaged us at all and left the room as quick as she came in still looking at charts and was not seen again.

• April’s contractions increased in regularity and intensity once the oxytocin had taken effect. The intensity was the most disturbing thing as it seemed completely un-natural to what had been happening at home several hours ago.

I was assured that she was doing well and everything was moving much faster which was great. April was also given nitrous to take the edge off the contractions, which she seemed to be handling quite well, up until the introduction of oxytocin. This made her lucid and somewhat unresponsive and seemingly out of her mind and body for the experience of childbirth.

• The 1st midwife was relieved of her duties because she had done 12 hours already and a second midwife was introduced. She encouraged a general hush over the room and requested the very very lightly playing music be switched off; lights dimmed and essentially took charge of the room. Her air of superiority made me feel that if I even moved the wrong way I would be lethally injected and thrown out with the trash the next day.

• Again, no interaction or advice and she was the apparently the very best of the best at the hospital. Any questions from Therese or I were met with a one word answer and then she would dis-enagage as quickly as possible.

• After some time and a few vaginal examinations Xavier engaged and it was game on. Various position were “attempted” which included lying over the bed standing up, a birthing stool and on all fours.

Therese and I helped as much as we could with the various positions and the 2nd midwife was glued to the machines and we felt as though we had to get this done ourselves.

The 1st midwife was relegated to only emotional support from her beanbag. To her defence though she didn’t have to be there and the additional support was welcome but still no instructions on how or what we should be doing.

• Transition was scary as April was certain she was going to die and kept telling me “it wasn’t meant to be this way but you’ll be a terrific father”. I wasn’t told that this was transition and some crazy stuff can happen.

• April was instructed by the 2nd midwife to “keep quiet” and “use all that energy to push down to get the baby out” and also “breathe and imagine you’re opening a flower”. All while she was under the influence of Nos and synthetic oxytocin.

Every time April made a noise she was told to be quiet and concentrate. This part didn’t seem natural to me as Aprils body was doing what it needed to do but I guessed I was wrong and continued to try and help April as much as I could.

• The birthing stool was used for a short period of time and while April was on it they ruptured the membrane saying that “the baby won’t come out unless we do this”. Again I didn’t know any better and I agreed.

We were interrupted a few times by a surgical team member who was apparently putting a time frame on how long we had until the were going to make the call to have an “emergency” C section. This was uncomfortable and we felt pressured to “get the job done” and it added a lot of stress and urgency to the room.

• The position our son was born in was April on all fours with her head down and her pelvis facing upwards. at no point was it made clear that we were basically pushing uphill as April and I were face to face and I was just trying to help her get through it. April was constantly being told to “push and be quiet”. Again we thought that with these people being professionals they knew best.

• After an hour and a half of pushing our son was born and April turned over and he was placed in her arms. There seemed to be a sense of urgency from the midwives but April asked if I could cut the cord and I was quickly handed the scissors and asked to “cut as quick as possible”.

It wasn’t until I stood up that I could see a massive pool of blood and the 1st midwife was pushing quite hard on April’s stomach to get the placenta out. Once it was to a certain point she wrapped the cord around a tool and pulled the placenta out.

• Initially there were 5 people in the room and that quickly swelled to, at a rough guess, 12. There were doctors, surgeons and nurses all rushing about and I was told that “there is a problem and April needs surgery right away”.

• The midwife took Xavier over to be weighed and checked and wrapped him up and handed him to me to whom I promptly handed him to April because he needed to go on the boob to help with bonding and to have his 1st feed. April was allowed only a short window of time before he was handed back to me and she was taken out of the room with EVERYONE except Therese.

A cleaner came in and mopped up the blood and stripped the bed and left and I was standing there with a 15minute old baby who was under a heat lamp in a crib wondering what the hell just happen and I’m pretty sure he was too. Around 25 mins went by and I was taken to a room where I was helped by a nurse with Xavier until April arrived a few hours later still asleep from surgery.

• A lactation consultant was brought in to help with some of the feeds and her answer to everything was to jam my sons head against my partner’s breast as hard and as fast as she could. I found this a little daunting and a little violent but again, “hospital knows best” and i just sat and cringed and went with it.

Looking Back:

• Looking back, so much of the process went wrong.

Medical intervention was used to “speed up” the process that, as I’ve found out since, was progressing very well for Aprils 1st pregnancy.

From watching and reading various books and DVD’s I’ve found that a lot of the things that happened could have been avoided.

The introduction of oxytocin was the start of an avalanche of things that would go wrong. We weren’t informed about the dangers of oxytocin and that it is a synthetic hormone which practically takes over the natural oxytocin and all April would be feeling was pain and discomfort. This is the thing that causes stress to the baby, not a long labour.

• I feel as though I really let my partner down by not asking more questions but at the time I really didn’t know what to do. Again, since then, I have found that this is a tactic that the hospital uses so they can process faster and get you out of the birthing suite.

• Being on all fours is quite possibly the worst position a woman can be in to give birth. Essentially April was pushing against gravity and the build up of pressure from her pushing so hard ended up with her having a 4th degree tear and having to be rushed off for immediate surgery.

I feel 100% that if April had been in a proper position the tear would have been very very minor if at all. I really feel I was let down by so called “professionals” who didn’t try to help us in any way. Again this is information i have learned AFTER everything has happened.

• I have lost all trust in the medical profession to deliver my next child.

From the tricks they play on the father when they take him aside and lie to him about “fetal distress” and “your baby might die” right up to administering Oxytocin among other things to speed up the labour so they can get you out and the next lot in.

Basically they make you feel like cattle and that after you’ve left its bad luck if anything went wrong. Unfortunately this has happened to friends of ours as well and it’s just sickening to think of some of the things that go on behind closed doors of hospitals every day.

What I’ve Learned:

• Making pregnancy and birth into a medical procedure most dads feel as though they shouldn’t, don’t have to or can’t do anything to help out. This is dead wrong.

Having watched DVD’s from Heather Bruce I have learned acupressure points for calming, helping to open the uterus, points to help boost my partner’s energy when she feels she has nothing left and also some basic massage that I can do while my partner is labouring and giving birth.

• Also there is a book that I think should be a mandatory read that is called “What Dads Can Do“. Again this encourages the dad to be in there doing it with their partners and being 100% involved with the birthing process as well as “what dads can do” throughout the entire pregnancy from bum massage, moxa, dietary advice, acupressure and just about everything that could happen during pregnancy.

• The information that I got from the accompanying DVD’s also was that the western medical “profession” have basically turned something completely natural into a downright medical mess that doesn’t need to happen.

From the introduction of things like epidurals, oxytocin, obstetricians for women that don’t have problems, bad medical practices such as the “karate chop” to the woman’s stomach after she has given birth and cutting the still beating cord to a placenta that is still feeding the baby and helping the baby get their breathing into swing.

One third of the babies blood is still in the placenta! Why would you want to cut that off to the baby?

• Also I’ve learned that wanting to conceive is one thing but being ready to do so, is another. The best chance we are going to have at being able to conceive a healthy baby is to be as healthy as we can possibly be. It all starts with us.

Cutting out things that are bad for us like fast food, coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and stress are just the beginning. Nutrition plays a massive role as does regular exercise and by that I mean not just taking a brisk 15 minute walk twice a week kind of thing either. There are plenty of things that my partner and I can do together like yoga, Pilates, tai chi and hiking just to name a few.

• This alleviates stress and gets me to get closer to my partner and we’re getting fitter as well. What could be wrong with that? Giving ourselves the best chance of being healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will reflect on both me and my partner as well as the child from conception right through to birth and beyond. Having this kind of information available to me now has opened my eyes to just how involved and pro-active I can be in the whole process.

If there is anything I had wished I knew before the birth of Xavier it would be that we are just having a baby. Not “oh my good god we are going

To need a team of professionals that can tell us what to do!” the general consensus on guys in this situation is “I don’t need to know anything, that’s why we have doctors” and it’s kind of sad. Very few guys I’ve met have actually been a part of their second or third Childs birth due to them being told they aren’t needed or thinking it’s just one of those things.

In one case i was talking to a guy at work and he got a phone call half way through our conversation and when he got off the phone he said “had a little girl and the missus is doing alright, now, we’ve got to get all this work finished…..” and carried on his merry way like nothing had happened. To me that’s just wrong.

While I understand everyone is different I feel that if he had been more involved in the pregnancy he would have been at his wife’s side when their daughter was being born.

There just isn’t enough literature and support for men out there to get to know the facts. If I had known the dangers that come with oxytocin i would have told them where to insert it and carried on my merry way. i would have been confident in knowing that this is our 1st baby and it’s going to take a while all the dangers of what happens in hospitals is kept very hush hush to the point that not even the midwives or doctors will give you a direct answer.

All information in the birthing classes we were given was directed at things like “what should you do for the woman AFTER she has given birth”. the men got together and came up with “give her chocolates, foot rubs and flowers” which was met with an approving nod. There was a small snippet in the 4 three hour classes that touched on how the dad could help.

There was not one point where they said “hey, now that your partner is pregnant, what have you been doing in order to help out? What can YOU do during the birthing, did you know this, this and this?” it was pretty much a fun moment that seemed to be engineered to keep the men awake more than anything.

The general vibe was just a couple of blokes having a laugh and getting what it was they had to do and not taking it too seriously. We don’t have to have our eyelids taped open and watch graphic films on childbirth and be hit with a ruler each time we make a mistake. Just that the dads really need to be learning about what they are about to go through as a male in this situation.

What I would like to see is a men’s group tailored to birthing. More “honest” education on intervention so the fathers can make more informed choices about what they are about to agree to. also information on how they will try to tell you “they know best” when they are really just trying to justify their position at the hospital.

More information on home birth, lotus birth, water birth, doulas and natural therapies such as TENS machine, acupuncture and acupressure. also birthing positions as well.

We were shown a few birthing positions by a doula that would have made it so much easier and also greatly reduced the risk of my partner tearing. The horrified look on her face when we told her that April gave birth on all fours with her pelvis pointing up and head down made me feel like an idiot.

In hindsight I know now that that’s just going against gravity but when you’ve been up all night and you’re not really on the ball at all and you are being pressured by the hospital staff to “get the baby out” as quick as possible, you aren’t really considering what’s happening.

If I had known all of this before the birth of our child i would have done things so much more differently.
I went in with nothing in my arsenal and I got shot down quicker than you could imagine.

I come away from that now feeling like I’ve let my partner down, like I’ve let my child down and like I’ve let myself down. April felt as though I had let her down by not sticking to our birth plan and that affected us to the point where it caused tension down the track.

When she talked to me about it and I felt as though she was blaming me and attacking me. Truth be told we were both mis-informed and hadn’t looked into what we were doing. It’s my responsibility as her birth partner to know all the ins and outs and I feel as though I failed. i also feel as though I didn’t even know where to begin though.

That’s not a cop out. That’s just the truth. This is the biggest reason I feel we need more education for men. While I had the opportunity to read some books during the pregnancy I felt that I couldn’t really understand them, and that they were geared more for women and the language and terminology used didn’t relate to me.

For me personally I would like to see someone with a good knowledge base who is open to talk about what it’s like from the male perspective to go through pregnancy with their partner and what they can do to help during the birthing of their child.

Information on the dangers of intervention and snowballing effects that can lead to serious and permanent injuries. For me, I feel that if I had known these dangers I could have prevented my partner from getting a 4th degree tear to which she ended up on the operating table for 3 hours after losing 1.6 litres of blood.

They took me aside and told me “we need to give her oxytocin. She has been labouring far too long and nothing is happening, there is a chance of fetal distress and you could lose the baby.” Truth be told April had been labouring for around 14 hours and had dilated to 7cm and was very stretchy.

Another few hours and she would have been fully dilated and it would have been perfectly fine. No intervention needed. I truly feel that the hospital has its own agenda and with so any people placing their trust in these so called “professionals” without knowing the facts themselves they are jeopardising a lot.

While i feel that hospitals do indeed have their place I also feel as though I would not trust them to deliver kittens without botching the whole thing and wanting to give my cat an epidural, oxytocin and then declare an emergency C section all within the 1st 5 minutes. I’ll be honest; i am a little jaded about the hospital system but given what has happened I feel I am well within my rights to be a bit pissed off.

I guess the good thing to come out of this is now I want to be as informed as possible about everything so I can make decent choices for the birth of our next child. Knowing what I know now I will be going more towards a home water birth with the help of a doula and a midwife as opposed to doing everything in the hospital.

Unfortunately our biggest lessons come from our biggest mistakes. I’m not prepared to let that happen again.

Read April’s Impressions