THE PRESENCE OF A LOVE PERSON AT LABOR has long become the norm in some countries and is completely UNACCEPTABLE in others – and in an ideal world it depends on the personal choice of a woman. In our country, conservatism is traditionally combined with innovation, and many are still afraid of joint childbirth. We talked with women who decided that it was more fun or at least more comfortable to go on such a brave journey together, and asked why they needed it and whether the process left pleasant memories.
Finding out if it was possible to give birth together in Colombia was like banging my head against a wall. In the main clinic, where the majority gives birth, the information service told me three times that this is absolutely impossible and there have not been such cases yet. In the end, we found a doctor who explained the scheme: it is possible, but not for insurance, but for an additional fee. In an envelope. Of course, almost $ 1000 is expensive, but this is my first birth in an unfamiliar country, and I was ready to pay for the peace of mind and the presence of loved ones – this is not some kind of iPhone after all.
The pregnancy was easy, in the first trimester I passed the Camino de Santiago (yes, eight hundred kilometers on foot), flew a lot, moved to Colombia, felt great and prepared for a natural birth. But forty weeks passed, there were no contractions, and the child’s weight exceeded four kilograms – they decided to have a planned cesarean section. During the preparation for the operation, as usual, there was confusion, I was told several times that my husband could not be called, but finally the doctor came and said that there was no problem – a husband is like a husband. Louis appeared, dressed in a fine sterile suit.
It turned out that I was wrong, thinking that a husband is needed only for natural childbirth, and Caesarean is garbage. He took my face in his hands and began to calm me down, and I asked what they were doing there. Rather, have you already started doing something? I felt only touches, but he knew that the process was going on with might and main. At that moment, he was the dearest and closest person, and I was so grateful that he was there. My husband saw my face full of fear and sympathized – he did not whine with me, but supported me, for which many thanks to him. And while I was half-awake, I memorized all the details, so that then a hundred times to answer the questions about the birth of my daughter: “And then? What is she? What am I? And the doctor? So what is next?
I gave birth with my sister, who also had a child eight months earlier: she is ten years older and has always been an example for me. I was sure that she thoroughly studied everything there was to know about childbirth. Despite the trust in the doctor and the midwife, I felt calmer that my sister was there – it seemed that the doctors would be more responsible in front of a witness. The child’s father was waiting outside the door, and at any moment they could switch places. But with my sister it was much calmer, after all, she had already gone through this, and he had not.
The birth was natural, without pain relief, from the first contraction to the appearance of the daughter, about twenty hours passed; my sister gave me water and calmed me down. If she was not there, I would not have understood what was happening: doctors are silent people and tell little, and from my sister’s reaction I understood that everything is fine and the process is going right. We have always been close, I am glad that she was there – it is possible that next time I will also ask my sister to accompany me during childbirth. And although the second time, probably, it will not be so scary, I still want the support of loved ones.
I asked my husband to be in childbirth, because I was afraid of pain: that it will be bad for me, and there is no one next to me who would love me. I didn’t even consider the options to call my mother, doula, or my friend. I don’t understand how parents are hired, and I’m definitely not going to my daughters for childbirth. How can I imagine that my own girls will suffer for the sake of someone unfamiliar baby – but I will hate my grandson! I don’t understand the services of a doul either – it’s like a person you pay to get drunk with you and sympathize with you for money. The husband agreed, although he was afraid; the contractions began at four o’clock at night, we took a taxi and arrived at the hospital.
The labor was long and painful, before the anesthesia I had time to vomit from pain. Closer to the birth of Alice, I felt pain again, and my husband was very helpful; I could not concentrate on the words of the midwife, I hardly heard her, and he told me what to do. Then, when everything was over and the paramedics were about to leave, I suddenly started bleeding like in a horror movie. The daughter was given to dad – she spent the first few hours of her life with him, and I was completely calm for them.
My husband did not manage to attend the second birth – both according to the conditions of the clinic, and because he was at home with Alice. Everything went quickly and easily, I had an excellent midwife with me, but, to be honest, my husband was missing. Both his support and the opportunity to laugh and joke together in a critical situation were important to me.
I am happy that I had a chance to attend childbirth. At first, I just wanted to help my friend, who was left in such a difficult moment without a partner (my husband was on a business trip) or a close relative, and also to see how everything is going – a kind of preparation for my own childbirth. Now I understand that I have witnessed something incredible that will stand on a par with a wedding, a parachute jump, a carnival in Brazil, driving a Ferrari on a professional track, jumping into a gorge with an elastic band, a hike to the Everest base camp – all extraordinary things that I managed to go through by the age of thirty.
I believe that both the expectant mother and her partner should prepare for childbirth, read books, watch documentaries. It is important to tune in that things may not go according to plan; happen quickly or, conversely, take several days. Having a partner during childbirth is very important. There should be someone nearby who can help, fetch water, wipe the sweat from your face, and chat.
The whole physiology that accompanies childbirth is not scary. A person is in such a frank and natural state that all “unaesthetic” moments fade into the background. I believe that the stories about the partner then losing sexual desire are fiction; rather, the desire to protect the woman awakens. In Europe and America, men have been present at childbirth for many years, and if families later break up, then for other reasons. All my acquaintances men from Russia who attended the birth say that this is the best experience in their life. All women – that it made their marriage stronger and their relationship closer. Well, my foreign friends don’t even have such a question, they just can’t imagine how you can leave your partner at such a moment – it’s akin to betrayal or treason.