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Calming *his* fears about homebirth
~ a message board archive
From Damiana ~ My husband knows how anti-Western medicine I am and my history with hospitals and doctors. He loves our midwife, and is confident in her abilities. Yet he still has fears about doing the homebirth, I think mostly the "what if something goes wrong?" factor. The fact that we're 20 minutes from the closest hospital is an issue, as well. Our midwife has pretty much all the tools that a maternity ward has, is certified in infant resuscitation, etc, and has said that if it looks like there's any danger, she'll take me straight to the hospital.

I think that if I wasn't so adamant about this, he'd definitely try to coerce me to do the traditional hospital birth. (Yes he's been reading my homebirthing books. I really want him onboard with this and not afraid. If he gets afraid, then I'll get afraid, and it'll all go downhill from there, know what I mean? He's also stated some reluctance on the "clean up" factor. I think this stems from a tape that he was shown as a pre-teen during school. Apparently it was pretty gross, and had a woman screaming her head off during the entire delivery. (On her back, strapped in with a monitor, legs in stirrups, episiotomy, etc, etc. Pretty much everything I want to avoid.) I'll probably be using our spa tub; I'm wondering if he thinks that this will "taint" it, or something odd like that.

Insight is appreciated!

From hedra ~ I guess I'd want to work out why he's scared, exactly. Is it the 'training' from that video? Is it the fear that comes with fatherhood, of being unable to act to make a difference? Powerlessness is a big bad no-no for a lot of men.

Get him The Birth Partner to read. It will give him a job to do, and some sense of control (plus knowledge enough to help him make good decisions, no matter how things work out).

He'd also be powerless in a hospital setting. Only, in the hospital, it APPEARS that someone can be relied on to take over the power slot, which takes the burden off his shoulders. But that's an appearance based on 1) the medical model of birth, and 2) the mistaken idea that medicine is a science, that can be relied on for stable and appropriate answers - but it is an ART. The research behind the art is science, the practice is art, combining mental data sets and intuition and experience and native talent. Accepting that may be part of the process he needs to undertake.

You can also try hypnotherapy. Not that most guys go for that, but fear release is one of their big benefits.

From hunter ~ I agree with Hedra that you need to find out WHY he's reluctant because you can't shoot down his arguments if you don't know what they are.

For my husband, he was also worried about the "what ifs" and he compounded his fear with other fears, that maybe the midwife passed out *and* there was a huge fire downtown that was occupying all emergency personnel in the City. I got a copy of Emergency Childbirth and made him read it cover to cover. It's written for paramedics and cops and covers darn near everything that can go wrong, and how to deal with it while you're on the way to the hospital. I quizzed him on shoulder dystocia, cord around the neck, retained placenta, hemorrhage, all kinds of things that I quite frankly didn't care to think about. But they were important to him, not because he didn't trust the midwife or trust that we could transport in an emergency, but because he felt better knowing what *he* could do if all else failed. For some husbands, that book is the ultimate reason why you should be in a hospital, but for my husband, the education was able to calm his fears where rational thinking didn't!

And I suggest getting your hands on some "gentle birth" videos. Show your husband that there is another way! My midwife had a small library of birth videos, both amateur and professional, that we were able to check out.

From Sorscha94~ I remember pretending I didn't know that the "Unassisted Childbirth" section of my pregnancy book was getting well read. The clean up isn't that bad, the midwives usually help out with it. I remember picking out a cheap shower curtain and sheets at Walmart to put on the bed. The sheets get bundled up and thrown in the wash, shower curtain gets thrown in a garbage bag, minimal contact. Birth is bloody, no matter if it is at home or at the hospital.

From Amieee ~ We had virtually no mess whatsoever. Cleanup was a nonissue for us. My midwife had us get some laundry baskets and she put the laundry in them, washed them before she left, and drained the tub. I never saw any mess and neither did my husband. She also drained the tub for us.

We also watched a ton of peaceful homebirth videos and I think that helped both of us. One video we watched was awful, with the poor first time mom screaming her head off, but my midwife assured us that she would not have handled things the same way; she pushed for four hours with a posterior baby, about an hour of crowning and manual removal of placenta! Yikes! But all the others helped a lot.

Anyway, did you all go to a class? Our Bradley Class really got my husband psyched up.

From Damiana ~ I talked to him a bit in the car today. There are several issues going on here, as I see it. (I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about this over the last few days.) He really does agree that homebirth would be a gentler way to introduce our son to the world, but he still has some reticence.

1) I'm a very dominant personality. There are times when I put my foot down about things, and that's that. Though I've tried very hard to make sure that he's on board with the homebirth decision, I suspect that he thinks that my mind is made up. (And, in many ways, it is.)

2) He knows my medical history. Since 1998 I've been in the ICU nearly dying from thrombosis, back in the hospital 4 months later for unknown hematology problems that nearly killed me, then in 2001 I nearly died on the table with my laparoscopy due to anesthesia complications. I also spent several weeks living in a hospital when my ex in Austin got into a horrible car accident. I do NOT have good associations with hospitals, and Western medicine has nearly killed me far too many times. (My health has cleared up since I started refusing to take any medication unless it is 1) over 10 years old, and 2) I can sit down with the doctor and go over EXACTLY what it's affecting and how. I use herbal remedies as much as possible, as well as diet, yada yada.) Basically, I'll do as much as it takes to avoid Western medicine, and my gut reaction to it is fear and distrust. Despite this, I will agree that there are some things that allopaths do best, like setting bones, and surgeries, if they're needed.

3) He loves me. This kind of blows my mind. I've never really had anyone love me the way he does. He loves the baby fiercely, as well. He's just found us, and he's terrified of losing us.

4) He does feel out of control. We talked about this in the car. He works in a job where if something is wrong, he knows exactly what to do, and he can fix it. His words about the situation is, "What if you need help and all I can do is sit there with my thumb up my butt and get in the way?" My reply to that was that his presence would help me immensely, and that he could educate himself so that he would know exactly what was going on, and how he could pitch in. I also noted that I would be more likely to be worse off in a hospital, due to my fear of them, and that at home, he wouldn't have any staff pushing him out of the way. I also reminded him of all the gear that my midwife carries, and of her training.

5) Clean up turned out to be less of an issue than I anticipated. I was planning on maybe doing some laboring in our spa tub (we're installing a 2 person corner tub next month), and *maybe* delivering there. I asked him if he'd feel more comfortable if we used the midwife's birthing pool, and he said "YES!". We'll also get a bunch of thick plastic sheeting from his work to lay down. So that's that, I think.

6) That stinkin' video they tormented him with as a kid. My midwife is stopping by the house next week with some materials for him. We've talked about this a bit, as well. She's bringing home birthing magazines with birth stories, and some nice, happy birthing videos. We'll be taking a couple classes here in the next few months. Hopefully this will overwrite that horrible image of birth that he has ingrained in his head.

Thanks so much for the advice, ladies! I'll be getting those books! I do think that he would like to prepare for the worst case scenario, he's that type of person.

From Sorscha94 ~ "Birthing From Within" classes really helped my husband feel more confident about his ability to coach a homebirth. Plus he learned some accupressure techniques that came in handy for our posterior birth.

From djk42 ~ Have you a copy of Thinking Woman's Guide anywhere? It lays out the facts, and statistically, homebirth is safer for the mother than a hospital birth and has the exact same ratio of problems with babies as hospital births. Have him read just chapter 11.

From Karin ~ My husband was really afraid at first. I also have that dominant personality and fear of western medicine, so I did put my foot down. I knew I would not have the kind of birth I wanted in a hospital because I am so afraid. (I even have problems driving past the hospital!)

We took homebirth classes with Penny Simkin. They were very helpful. I highly second the recommendation for The Birth Partner. My husband was scared of seeing me in pain and feeling powerless. Practicing during class boosted his confidence and he did great.

20 minutes away from the hospital should be plenty of time. If a complication comes up, your midwife will have been watching you so closely that you will have plenty of time to get to the hospital.

Now my husband is so proud of us for homebirthing! He wouldn't have it any other way.

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