For all the expecting mums out there….
When did pregnancy become so complicated?
A modern pregnancy is full of experts, advice, fads, products, and guilt. Most pregnant women question their every move. If they don’t, someone else will – their mother-in-law, colleagues, strangers at the cinema.
Yet pregnancy is not a new phenomenon, and need not be the whirlwind of stress and guilt that is a modern pregnancy.
Tales and Advice From a Midwife
Enter Vicki Bryce – midwife and mother of three who has delivered over 3,000 babies.
Hatch and Dispatch is a compilation of the advice Vicki Bryce gives to expecting mums almost every day, whether it be their first of fifth babies. She uses the stories from her career to show you that every woman has the same concerns, the same questions, and makes essentially the same noise when pushing a baby out.
Read about the hallucinations some women experience when using nitrous, what happens to tattoos and piercings during pregnancy (clue: dolphins become whales, Bambi becomes a moose), and about the partner who wanted to attend ante-natal classes even though his baby was already born.
Hatch and Dispatch provides practical, comforting and humorous advice.
Vicki says, “I am a pragmatic woman – the advice in this book is sensible. It is honest. My job is interesting and fun so there are some great stories for you to read. I don’t try to scare or sway you, just show you that pregnancy is a part of many womens’ lives and need not be the guilt-ridden ride it has become.”
To read the introduction and first chapter or to purchase your copy, go to www.hatchanddispatch.com.
Excerpt from Hatch and Dispatch
One of the best support people I have encountered was the most unlikely. An eighteen-year-old man the lady in labour had never met.
A young woman, about eighteen years old herself, was in labour, and quite distressed that her partner was not coping. He sat in the corner with his hoodie pulled so far over his face he looked like a caterpillar. This was before mobile phones had games and internet – he couldn’t hide behind a screen. So our young lady called her friend, who bounded into the delivery room ready to help. She had good intentions and tried her best, but was completely out of her depth and did not know what to do. She just stood at the foot of the bed. After about fifteen minutes, she called her boyfriend for her own support, and upon his arrival, flapped her hands then took herself off to the corner.
This new boyfriend was the most helpful person I’ve ever encountered in thirty- five years in this job. It appeared that he and the lady in labour had never met before, but this young man helped her into the bath, held the shower head while she washed, massaged her back, and helped hold her legs while she pushed. He seemed very engrossed in the process and not in the least concerned that he was up close and personal with the intimate parts of his girlfriend’s friend.
I don’t know what was going through any of their heads, and I’m sure a group dinner a few nights later would have been an interesting affair to attend.
I am not saying you should find a random stranger to be your support person, but the best support people may not be the most obvious. In some cases, a third person can help both of you. Some partners need support themselves.
Another support person turned out not to be who I thought he was. This man was also very supportive, said all the right things, like “Darling, you can do it!” and rubbed her back. He then stepped out of the delivery room to talk to another woman, welcoming her with a kiss and a hug, and touching the inside of her elbow in that way that only familiars do. These two were obviously in a relationship. The lady in labour didn’t seem bothered by her partner being cosy with another woman. The mystery woman went to the waiting room, the man came back into the delivery room, and I had to ask. I went to the woman in the waiting room and asked how she was related to the couple in the room.
“I’m his girlfriend,” she said.
“Then who’s in the bed?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s his sister.”
No woman need go through labour alone. Your support person won’t just rub your back and tell you you’re doing well; they will also bring you water, talk to you when you’re bored (yes, this is likely to happen), and generally provide a sense of companionship throughout the process. The midwife can’t stay with you the entire time because we will have other ladies in labour to attend to and if it’s a long labour, we need to go home.
Choose your support person carefully. Your partner/parents may not necessarily be the best person for you. You know your family and you know how they cope with pressure. If your partner can’t handle a delivery, forcing them isn’t always the best option. It is not uncommon for men to pass out at the sight of blood.
Decide who will be the best person to support you and possibly your partner, and try not to worry about who you might offend. You will have more important things to think about on the day. My personal opinion is that if you were there when the baby was made you can be there when it is born. It is a very special moment when that baby first pops into your life, but I do appreciate that a delivery room is not for everyone. It is a messy business.
I recently had a woman arrive without her partner, and a girlfriend was on her way. The couple had decided that labour and birth was not for him and he was more likely to be a hindrance than any help. Hats off to this couple – they knew their limits and came up with a strategy that would work for them, despite going against what is expected today. The expectation that partners be in the delivery room is only about thirty years old.
Traits to look for in a support person include:
- Resilient hands. You will probably squeeze their hands with unbelievable force
- A stomach for blood, sweat, odd smells, and maybe some faeces
- Someone who can cope with you being in pain
- Someone you can trust to help you if you change your mind about any of your original birth plan. Being forced to stick to a plan you made months ago is unnecessary
- Someone who won’t get bored and want to leave. Consider a second person if you think your partner might need support as well. However, labour is not a team or spectator sport. The more people there are in a room, the more crowded it is and the harder it is for us to do our job. Any more than two support people just creates chatter amongst the group while you end up with less support that you would have had with only one person.
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