What do you do when you want a home birth but your significant other doesn’t?
Does this sound familiar?
So your significant other isn’t on board when you entertain the idea of home birth. Don’t be surprised if this is the case.
Many Dads-to-be are skeptical at the first mention of home birth.
Our society trains us guys to think doctors know best, and that it’s our patriarchal duty to make safe choices.
So how can you help him overcome this old paradigm? How can you educate him so that he tells people that the home birth midwife is the only person that he’d ever trust to birth his children into this world?
Today’s post is about how to work with your significant other in the situation that you want to have a home birth, and he doesn’t.
Also I’m writing this post with the assumption that Dad is committed to being an active part of the birth experience.
I have to warn you, what I suggest in this post isn’t easy work. It will force you to come out of your comfort zone. It will test you and your significant other’s ability to communicate and work together.
But in doing so, the suggestions I provide will further prepare you for something arguably just as important as your birth experience, and that’s labor and delivery.
It’s the ability to grow with your significant other during times of change and challenge that will be profound markers for an enduring relationship.
With that said, please take the perspective that disagreeing about wanting or not wanting to have a home birth is a great opportunity for love.
I will now cover five rules for you to understand and apply.
Follow along with this process.
Rule #1. He Loves You and the Little Little One
No matter how heavy handed, thick sculled or stubborn he may seem about the option to have a home birth, he loves you. He wants what is best for you and your little little one.
Along these same lines, NEVER question his intent.
You can call into question his knowledge on the subject. You can giggle at his naiveté. You may observe that he could have made better choices. But never question his intent. He wants a wonderful birth experience just like you.
So start with the understanding that you both want the same outcome, but see it from a different point of view.
You want or are seriously considering home birth as a birth option. He wants a hospital birth. You both want the best birth experience possible. You both want a healthy and strong child that enters this world without complication.
That’s a great start, and good ground to be standing upon.
Rule #2. Communication begins just between you two. No one else.
Even if you have the most supportive and wonderful relationship with your respective family members, guard yourself from their influence on this matter until you and your significant other have thoroughly communicated, and can be united on this decision.
Worst case scenario:
Your mother-in-law points her accusational finger at you, and says, If anything happens to my grandchild, it is all going to be your fault,” and then the in-laws whisk your significant other away to tell him how irresponsible having a home birth would be.
This would not help either one of you. Agree to guard yourself from non-experts with opinions especially non-expert family members with influential opinions. Odds are they don’t know anything about home birth.
Let this communication process take months. It rarely will be something that occurs over a weekend, or even a week. The home birth or no home birth communication phase will last for awhile. Embrace that. Make this communication period part of the fabric of your bonding. It will underscore and set the tone for your entire pregnancy.
Here are some key talking points for the communication process:
- Throughout the communication (decision making) process, model the behavior you seek to receive. If for some reason things go badly, and you end up in a fight, race for the peace bridge. Don’t bother holding out for the other person to apologize or take back what they said. It doesn’t matter if you don’t question intent. Simply make amends and focus on modeling the behavior you seek to receive.
- Be able to articulate the reasons for your desire to give birth at home. Go beyond the intuitive, instinctual and emotional reasons. This is certainly good enough for you, but be able to translate that so that your significant other can make logical sense of it.
- Be open to his reasons, concerns and fears for not wanting a home birth. No judging. No arguing. Simply listen and justify. You want to be able to get inside the psychology of your significant other.
- I recommend keeping a notebook, whiteboard or chart that documents the key points of this communication. As over the top as this may sound, it will be vital. It will help you stay on track with two-way communication and not get sidetracked with repetitious road blocks that impede progress.
- Again, this is to be communication just between you and your significant other. I suggest making that agreement and any other necessary agreements before the communication process begins to make your time pleasant, productive and efficient.
Rule #3. When you educate, you empower.
You and your significant other will want to be just short of experts (or authorities) about home birth. I’ve spoken about how I trusted the instincts and confidence Kaitlin had for home birth, but we both followed that up with education, and lots of it.
One of the first places I’d like to recommend may not be what you’d expect.
Let me introduce you to Natural Papa (Derek Markham). I don’t know the dude, but I’ve recently discovered that he and I have more than a few similarities.
Natural Papa is a tree-hugging dirt worshipper from New Mexico who has a cool blog about natural parenting.
I think his blog is useful for home birth dads and/or dads-to-be who need more information and perspective.
One of the biggest problems for home birth dads is that they usually don’t have a lot of support from their peers.
Natural Papa has done a good job of finding other home birth dads. He has several interviews that I think every home birth dad to be should read. It’s also great social proof.
Follow the links below:
You’ll find over ten different Home Birth Dad interviews.
In one of Natural Papa’s interviews, he speaks with Jorge T. Cuevas from Home Birth Dads [dot] com.
Jorge is the only person I know of who has created a product with the home birth dad in mind.
Although I haven’t purchased this $25 DVD, I did listen to an the internet radio show that Kerry Tuschhoff , founder/director of Hypnobabies [dot] com, natural childbirth expert and certified hypno-therapist did with Jorge.
Go here to listen to that Home Birth Dad DVD with Jorge Cuevas interview.
From that interview, I can tell that the Home Birth Dad DVD provides unique insights about home birthing from the dads from dads who have already experienced it. Dads candidly answer questions about their concerns and considerations.
It’s true that men considering home birth rarely have the opportunity to ask other men about their experiences, this video bridges that gap and allows home birth dads-to-be to get answers that they may have been seeking but did not know where to find.
By no means does the education stop there.
I highly recommend a natural childbirth class in your local area.
This shouldn’t focus exclusively on home birth, but rather focus on natural childbirth that incorporates the best of many different birth philosophies. It should offer an in-depth look at a variety of natural birth techniques that stress trust for the mother’s body.
If a dad-to-be is going to support home birth, inevitably he’s going to trust his partner’s body to do what nature has been doing forever.
Furthermore, when Kaitlin and I attended a natural birth class here in Kalamazoo called Birth Kalamazoo. We were introduced to so many other resources, videos and significant names in the field of home birth that we had an unlimited amount of options for further self study.
I recommend you take advantage of further study and explore. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Business of Being Born (see trailer)
- Birthing from Within (The chapter on Birth Art alone is worth the purchase)
- Gentle Birth Choices: A Guide to Making Informed Decisions about Birthing Centers, Birth Attendants, Water Birth, Home Birth, and Hospital Birth by Barbara Harper and Suzanne Arms
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Read this one together. Ina May will be your hero.
- Your Best Birth, by Ricki Lake and Abbi Epstein, creators of movie The Business of Being Born. This book is new and relevant to our times.
Rule #4. Exercise and follow through.
Performing these exercises will open up the lines of communication after you feel as if you’ve exhausted all communication. Performing these exercises is also the best practice and application for all that you’re learning about home birth.
Write your home birth plans.
During your natural parenting class, you will most likely be asked to complete a birth plan. I highly recommend this. In fact, I recommend three birth plans. Write the plan for a home birth. Write the plan for a hospital birth, and write the plan for a home birth transfer to a hospital birth.
Have fun with birth art.
There is one kind of learning that you’ll receive from books, DVDs and all varieties of web pages. But for you to fully participate in the process, you and your partner will benefit from birth art and/or journaling.
When you and your partner are able to bring an image to light, I think you will be surprised at what it reveals. If you allow it to be a prompt for further exploration, it may tell you even more about home birth.
Rule #5. Prepare, test, communicate and decide.
If you’ve gone through all of the aforementioned “rules,” then I think you and your partner will have come to an agreement about where you will birth. Again, the process will likely take at least a month, but probably a little longer.
Going through the aforementioned process will definitely open your partners mind to home birth, perspectives, realities and potentialities. I know it did for me.
Now here are a few parting thoughts that I’ve sub-titled Prepare, Test, Communicate and Decide.
Set up your home for birth even if he hasn’t fully endorsed the idea yet. Where will you labor? Will you have stations set up? Who will clean things up? Who will be present? Will you use water, or no? Ambiance? Who will be your midwife? Is she available? Will you have a doula present? Is she available?
Basically, prepare as if you’re having a home birth. Cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s. How’s it feel?
Check to see if your preferred midwife is available as early as possible. Same goes for your doula. Find out how they work; how much they cost and their overall preferences and mode of operation. Have them over to the house. When they come over, prepare a fruit and cheese plate for something, and get comfortable. Get to know this person. Do you like her?
Keep going to the hospital for “normal” care. How is that going? How does it compare to your visualizations of what you want your birth experience to be like?
Communicate & Decide:
Somewhere throughout the communication and education phase, use the calendar to set a date for a decision. If you’re fully engaged in the process, and visiting your hospital care provider AND hooked up with a home birth midwife and doula, you can wait pretty late into the pregnancy.
Once you make a decision, trust that you’ve both underwent and exhausted the lengthy process and feels right about it.
Although it’s true that the woman is the one giving birth, and can ultimately be the final decision maker, if your significant other is the one who sits next you during labor, through the pain, through the intensity of the experience, don’t cut him out of the decision making process. And don’t ever get emotionally charged up and say that you have that clout over him (even if you do).
It is much better undergo the process I have shared today, and get his questions answered.
Most dads will be very nervous about a home birth. But little by little, with communication, education, preparation (and statistics) on your side, he’ll see what you see.
It is always better for the significant other to have faith in the process and the midwife, than to not have faith in what’s going on.
It will be better for you, your relationship and your child in the long run.