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Giving birth: the father’s perspective

I know, the woman does have it bad when it comes to the whole giving birth situation. I don’t envy anyone who has to squeeze a 9lb little alien looking creature out of the one area where you would least choose to squeeze anything out of. Having witnessed it three times now, I have nothing but genuine admiration and awe for anyone who can endure the pains of giving birth naturally. But, spare a thought for the father. No, he doesn’t deserve any accolade or medal, but just acknowledge some pain he has to suffer as well, here are just a few examples (the list is endless...).

1. You feel utterly useless and helpless

There’s only so many unhelpful “keep going”, “you can do it” and “you are doing amazing” comments that a man can say to his partner before he even starts to find himself irritating. So, when the full repertoire of largely ineffective comforting patter starts to wane, you feel even more useless than you did before. So, you stand, sit and crouch, holding your partner’s hand, rubbing her back, fetching her drinks, tissues and pain relief and anything else that might mildly assist.

You also find yourself asking her inane questions like “is there anything I can do?” or “are you okay?” and then you experience the person you love dearly suffer the most horrendous physical pain you have ever seen. Yes, I know the pain suffered in labour far outweighs the awkwardness of being totally superfluous to the proceedings and the discomfort of witnessing the bloodbath. However, it’s not to be taken lightly.

Okay, this is all natural, it’s not as if she’s dying. But, she might. She is certainly making sounds like she is going to. My previous “I bet it hurts a bit like the cramp I had in my leg the other night” quips are just a front. It looks absolutely awful.

2. No-one cares about your comfort

The mother is the star of the show. Or, maybe the impending baby is. Nevertheless, the father is certainly not, he’s a mere cameo in the scene. Even the awkward medical student who comes into the room to see what all the fuss is about has more of a role here. So, the midwife, nurses, sonographers, medical students and consultants don’t care if you’re sitting on a straight backed chair for the last five hours, that you have to get your own food and drink whilst your partner chomps on the hospital food, that you have to wait inordinate amounts of time or hunt down an irritable midwife dealing with more important matters to let you in or out of the ward.

Equally, when the action starts, no-one gives half a rat’s ass whether your back is aching from bending over to comfort her or the fact that your hands are bleeding from the nails she has mindlessly gouged into your hands when gripping them. You might even find yourself needing the toilet in the middle of the mayhem. However, to even suggest leaving the room for any reason (including wetting yourself) would be a heinous crime, only rivalled by drowning puppies and liking Justin Bieber (he’s okay really).

3. You don’t know where to stand or look

In virtually all films, you see the woman giving birth on her back. In this situation, it’s awkward thinking of where to look during the whole saga. I mean, do I go to the “business end” to witness the action unfold first hand (at the potential risk of ruining our future sex life)? Or do I hover around the no man’s land area with an aerial view of the war zone? Or do I stay in the safe haven of the general head area? There are few dilemmas in life as tricky as this one.

To simplify matters, my wife decided to give birth stood up and bent over the width of the bed with me bent over opposite her, holding her hand. To imagine this better, imagine the most bizarre arm wrestling scene you’ll ever witness, unless you always see arm wrestling matches with one person naked from the waist down, legs splayed, digging their nails into, and screaming profanities at, their opponent.

However, as I couldn’t adopt the same splayed out position as that would look really strange, it meant that I had to summon an inner strength to endure a deeply uncomfortable half-crouched, part-leaning, semi-kneeling, almost-plank stance. It was agony, but I didn’t make a big deal of it (until after the birth). Seriously, the sacrifices I make for my wife. Forget my earlier comment about accolades and medals, I think they are thoroughly deserved.

* * *

If these examples don’t convince you to sympathise with fathers across the globe and embrace your nearby father with a new found respect, I don’t know what will. I can’t wait to hear all the positive feedback I’m going to receive from providing this insight.

"Dear wife, please drop me a text if you need anything"

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