My role was to support Rachel, and stay awake
Ben, gateshead, UK
The plan was a home birth. Rachel wanted a hands-off approach with minimum interventions, so my job was to support that. We bought a birthing pool, got a doula, Janine, and I did loads of reading up. Not those useless ‘dad’ books but more medical stuff - I wanted to understand what Rachel and the baby were going through.
When the first signs of labour started on the Wednesday evening, we stayed at home and tried to relax. As the contractions got stronger we set up the birthing pool in the kitchen and called the doula and the midwife. They arrived early Thursday morning. It was all going well until the midwife spotted a few signs she wasn’t happy with and, just like that, everything changed.
Always ask for more details or if there are any alternatives.
The ambulance had the sirens on and we were soon in a private room at the hospital. It was sterile and much more stressful, a world away from home. But the doula came with us so that helped. Rachel wasn’t happy and neither was I really, but you can’t get the ‘what ifs’ out of your head, so you just have to trust the experts, and go with it.
We had a hospital bag packed (they tell you to, just in case) but it didn’t have some of the stuff that we would have had at home. I remember Rachel wanted a diffuser or oil burner to burn some oils but that didn’t happen.
My role was just to be there for Rachel - comfort her, get food and drinks, be her spokesperson when she was out of it. I knew the birth plan and there were some specifics in the articles I’d read - things like not feeling rushed into making decisions. Always ask for more details or if there are any alternatives. I knew Rachel wanted to keep things as natural as possible so I had to make sure her decisions were put forward, so that we didn’t lose any more control.
When Affie was finally born, late on the Friday, she got handed to Rachel first - she wanted to try and breastfeed. Then it was my turn - I took off my top to have skin-to-skin contact. It was nice but surreal - I remember thinking ‘what’s just happened?’ We didn’t tell anyone for a day or two. Just wanted a bit of time together first.