April 21, 2011

The Voice of a Homebirth Father.


Homebirth Interview with David, a Homebirth Father.

This father says that homebirth changed his ideas about women and children immeasurably for the better, connected him with a sense of mystery and spirituality that he hadn’t experienced before, and demonstrated viscerally how far from ideal the medical model of childbirth really is.


1. Tell me about yourself and your role at the birth of your child.

My name is David, and my wife Justine and I have had two of our three children together at home. We decided to birth at home after having a difficult and traumatic experience in a hospital during the birth of our first child, an experience we vowed never to have again.

In order to answer the question, I should explain that my role in the birth of our first child (in the hospital) was clear to me at the time – I was there to support my wife throughout the birthing process, and provide whatever comfort I could. I was “up to speed” on what to expect and what Justine’s wishes were regarding routine interventions, episiotomy, and pain management during her labor. But despite my best efforts I wasn’t able to prevent the unwarranted interventions which eventually led to a very painful and damaging birth experience both for Justine and for our newborn daughter. Although the experience was overall negative, it didn’t start out that way.

Our hospital birth was going fine while we waited for the doctor to arrive – but when he did, our careful planning and choices went out the window along with any sense of dignity.

The hospital birth did provide a hint of what might be possible if we had been left alone for a few hours more, and if the obstetrician had never walked through the doorway. During our next pregnancy, we were led to homebirth by a lack of alternatives – we tried several providers but found a uniform lack of reverence for the process and a clear intent to deceive us and prey upon our fears.

During our first homebirth experience, I envisioned my role to be supporting her through what we anticipated to be a long and difficult labor, as I had done in the hospital. As her labor progressed and deepened, the anxiety and discomfort that had accompanied our hospital birth never materialized.

Our midwives were very helpful, of course, but I wanted to be as supportive as I possibly could be.

I gave Justine many massages, applied pressure to her hips and sacrum, fetched glasses of water or damp rags, adjusted the temperature of the birthing pool – but my primary role was being genuinely present with Justine through each contraction and keeping her attitude positive and her spirits high. When labor became intense, especially during transition, I physically supported Justine as necessary and enjoyed the opportunity to provide emotional support, as well.

When our second daughter was born, I had the pleasure of being among the first to touch her, instead of being relegated to the corner while others performed their routine and unnecessary procedures on both my wife and our baby. I was involved in every aspect of her care and our family was the center of the experience, not schedules, or tests, or protocols, or staffing concerns, or legal protections.

2. What impact did birthing at home have on you?

Birthing at home was an absolute joy for me as a husband and father. We have precious few opportunities to share a moment of such intense emotion and feeling with any human being, let alone sharing it with both wife and child at same moment. Of course, I will never know for certain precisely what it feels like to be a birthing mother, but the experience of being so intimate a part of the birth process has given me a level of understanding that I would not have been able to achieve otherwise.

The day of our second daughter’s birth will always be a surreal and profound memory for me; a day when I witnessed and participated in the linking of two generations of my family, when I felt my wife’s power and glimpsed her true self, and when I met this brand new family member for the first time.

Homebirth changed my ideas about women and children immeasurably for the better, connected me with a sense of mystery and spirituality that I hadn’t experienced before, and demonstrated viscerally how far from ideal the medical model of childbirth really is.

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