As told by Tom, a Dad of two.
You don’t often hear about the man’s perspective on the whole pregnancy and birth thing, especially when it's a home birth… in a pool.
I would like to weigh in and share my thoughts and views on the experience.
I’ll start off with when we actually found out that my wife (fiance at the time) was pregnant.
I remember being in our little flat and being sat in our bed. We very much wanted children but hadn’t planned on it happening quite yet.
She came and sat next to me and told me that she was pregnant.
The news I took well but I have trouble, like many men, displaying my emotions. I am a very odd person when it comes to showing emotion so I did not handle my response all too well. My response was “Oh“.
Don’t get me wrong, I was happy. I was ecstatic! The news she had given me was amazing! I just did not display that emotion to her… at all.
Looking back I wish I would've reacted differently, but unfortunately I didn’t. Now we’re stuck with the memory of me replying to the announcement of my first child as “Oh“.
Discussing The Birth
As time moved on, my wife started to plan the birth and how we were going to approach it. She did not want to go into hospital, and she wanted to go the completely natural route. What she wanted to do is have the birth at home...in our tiny flat...in a birth pool.
My first thought and what I'm pretty sure I said was “Where the F are we going to put a birth pool!?“
This is what she wanted, so we found a way to make it work. I would move the bed over and make room in the corner of the flat, where it would be safer to support the load. I am not talking about my wife, I obviously mean the pool filled with water… that would contain my wife.
So we looked into it. We found a company that would send the pool out, ready for when the time came.
I was all for the hypnobirth, homebirth in a pool idea. Obviously I had my concerns if things were to go wrong. If they did we were only 5 mins from the hospital and the midwives were there to guide us through the process.
If she felt more comfortable and more relaxed going into the birth by choosing these things, then I would be behind her 100% of the way.
During The Pregnancy
In the time leading up to the birth, she got a baby belly and everything started to feel real. Not that they weren't real before, just that it had not hit me properly at that time.
When you can feel a little baby's foot or hand pushing up against your partner's stomach, it really makes you think “Shit, there's a person in there!”.
I started having the usual fears that I think every man has. I was thinking,
“Am I going to be a good dad?”
“What am I going to do with a baby?”
... “I hope I don’t drop her”.
You know, the usual stuff really.
The whole time she was pregnant just seems like a blur to me now. It happened so fast I struggle to place everything in my mind. I remember reading a book called ‘The Expectant Dad’s Handbook’ by Dean Beaumont. It helped prepare me and gave me some good information on how to be supportive and know my role. However, there is no amount of reading that could have prepared me for the birth of my child. I was never ready and I don’t think anyone ever is.
It was coming up to the time where she was ready to pop. She went into labour and things happened fast!
So being the awesome birth partner I was, I got the birth pool set up and ready to be filled. Only to realise that the tap fitting we had, did not fit our tap. It was fine, I had bought 2 buckets to fill up the pool with… or so I thought.
During her labour we wrote down how far apart the contractions were and when it was time, we called our midwives. This was my job to time and record, and I nailed it!
So the contraction times were where they needed to be and I called the midwives to come over. Mainly so that I wasn't alone to deliver this baby by myself. Because that I had definitely not prepared myself for!
During this time, I started to get the pool filled up ready to get my wife in. This was a difficult task as she had stolen one of my buckets to be sick in.
I did try not to lose my head, but there was a baby on the way, I only had one bucket and the pool had to be filled to precisley 37 degrees. At this time I did start to flap a little bit. I just wanted to get things ready for her and the baby. I was in that much of a flap, I even asked for my other bucket back. That did not go down well at all.
After the panic (from me), the pool was filled and she got in. The midwives arrived shortly after.
I had the hypnobirthing music set up and her lucozade at the ready. I sat down beside the pool and held her hand through the contractions. The midwives had checked her a few times to make sure everything was going to plan and then she got back into the pool.
During this time, I honestly can’t remember how I felt. She may get mad at me for saying that. There was so much happening and so many different emotions going on, it’s kind of hard to remember exactly what I was feeling.
Eventually, my little girl was out into the water.
This part I do remember exactly how I felt, although at the same time it’s hard to describe. I was overwhelmed, overjoyed, scared even. Looking at my first child just gave this wave of emotion and made me feel different to how I ever felt before.
My first born child was here, being held by my wife. Looking back to that day it still makes me smile. It still feels surreal though.
This was the weirdest feeling ever.
The midwives had cleaned my daughter up and checked my wife to make sure everything was ok.
Then they left.
We were left there with this newborn baby, with no manual on how to carry on with our new lives. It just felt surreal!
What do we do with a baby? Nobody ever prepares you for this.
As parents though, I think we naturally gravitate to whatever needs to be done… We google it!
But all jokes aside, we laid there on our bed just watching this new little person we had brought into this world. It was mental to think we had created this tiny human.
The few days after that were challenging but a great experience learning to look after this newborn baby. We were up all hours and the only thing that would settle her down at times was holding her in both my palms and lifting her up and down.
I was still in disbelief that this little baby was mine. To be honest, even up to this day it is still crazy to think that this cheeky madam is my daughter.
Looking back at everything we did and everything that has happened, I would not change a thing. Well, maybe I would buy three buckets, just in case.
The home birth was an amazing experience and something I had never seen before. Watching my wife give birth in our home with no pain relief made me realise that she is so much stronger than I had thought.
The midwifery team did an amazing job! Special thanks to Airedale Midwives at Airedale Hospital, West Yorkshire.
I will say that even though the homebirth was a great experience (so great we even did it again 18 months later), it was also scary as hell. So many things were going through my head, good and bad. But overall I am glad we did it in the way she wanted to do it.
It was a more enjoyable experience. Watching her go into this birth so comfortable and confident that everything was going to be fine. Rather than her going into hospital and dreading the whole thing.
She was able to take her time and be more relaxed which helped me stay more relaxed… sort of.
My Advice To Expectant Dads
If I were to give other men who are about to experience all of this any advice, it would be the following:
-Get your reactions ready if, like me, you struggle with displaying emotions. Don’t just say “Oh“ like I did.
-Read up on the things you are unsure about, because when the time comes you will forget most of it. So get it ingrained into your memory.
-Trust your wife/partner. I was sceptical at first with her choices. But if she will be more happy and relaxed with this choice, then you will be too. Be supportive and trust her decisions.
-Finally, don’t worry if you are not ready. You never will be. I wasn’t and still don’t feel like I am years down the line. All that matters is that you are there for your wife/partner and your newborn baby every step of the way.