I've recently just become a dad for the first time. It's been an exhilerating and exhausting experience. But so worth it. My wife and I opted to try "hypnobirthing" as a general approach to childbirth. This was through a recommendation from a work colleague of my wife's, who praised the approaches and methods adopted. I must admit I was quite sceptical at first. Not quite sure what expectations there were of me or whether I'd even have anything to contribute. The theory and underpinning rationale for hypnobirthing has in recent years gained substantial support and movement, particularly in the USA. This movement is beginning to migrate to the UK, albeit at a slower rate. Little did we know that we weren't really to use it at the time of the birth.
39 weeks into the pregnancy my wife went into labour, a week early. Expecting the labour to be quite lengthy (some research has shown that first borns tend to, on average 12 hours to be born). Our experience was relatively swift. I always planned to attend the birth. There was never a question that I wouldn't. We opted for a hosptical birth (mid-wife led). We arrived at the hospital in the evening, following a good couple of hours worth of contractions at home. My job, to safely drive to the hospital and support my wife as much as possible. I found the hospital staff to be welcoming, supportive and knowledgeable. My role throughout the labour ranged from 'bag carrier' to 'redundant' observer. Watching my wife in discomfort and pain wasn't pleasant. However, it was a quick labour, from the point we were admitted (just before midnight) my son was born 2 hours later!
Through the labour, my wife's body and behaviour took control and did what it needed to do. This was amazing. Seeing my wife do things (which she wouldn't normally - verbal phrases of what she was feeling and her physical movements throughout the birth was instinctive to say the least). I was redundant. But just knowing that I was there was motivation for her. All the hypnobirthing expereince in the lead up to the actual birth never really featured as part of the labour. Not sure why, perhaps the techniques felt a bit fabricated when we practiced them. Gas and air was a god send.
We'd agreed beforehand that we'd avoid medical intervention unless it was absolutely necessary. No drugs! She did it. Seeing my son's head crown and the second stage of labour and finally arriving was emotionally charged. Quite surreal. Our baby has arrived and he's ours. To see him, to hear him, to smell and touch him. An hour and a half after being admitted, my wife's waters broke and half an hour later he was born. A monitior was set up to check on baby as he'd done a poo. That was quite a nervous time as this can distress baby. Thankfully no medical attention was required. Nature ran its course.
My wife was totally shattered straight after the experience. She needed several stitches and had very sore bruises. She was kept in overnight. I enjoyed my 1-2-1 time with my son whilst my wife was being cleaned up. Thankfully the hospital wasn't that busy and we had a good couple of hours to bond and soak in what had just happened. I eventually got kicked out of the hospital around 5am and drove home in a very strange state. Couldn't quite beleive what had just happened-it was all very surreal.
My son is now 7 weeks old. Mum and baby doing well. The first few has been a physical and emotional whirlwind, but I'm loving being a dad!