There is rich history of women supporting women in birth. It has been the way since the beginning of time. We learned to revere the birthing Mama. We held space for her. There are songs we sang, dances we moved to, traditions we upheld and amended as we gained more knowledge. It is in our DNA, birthing, and we held it sacred.
The history of men in the birthing space is new. I won't say unheard of but certainly has only become common practice in the last fifty years. Our Foremothers fought to bring their lovers into the birth space as we moved from woman centered care to medical centered care. Birth is the final act in the ultimate show of love and we want our partners there to experience it with us. Men in the birthing suites is a radical change that we advocated for and now have. With any fast change though there are problems. Our husbands, fiances, boyfriends or partners don't have a rich history of supporting birth. They can't draw upon tens of thousands of years of whispered knowledge. Some of men don't even have a generation above who have been in the birthing space to ask.
So what do we do? How do we take the sacred knowledge of birth that women hold deep within, to draw upon as needed, and give it to our men?
First of all we talk. We talk and explain and give them as much detail as possible about our experience so they feel included in the pregnancy. We grab big gnarly hands and place them on our firm bellies when babies kick or punch or hiccup. We whisper our fears in that safe space we created in our relationships. We make plans for the dreamy future with a tiny human with tiny hands and a sweet smell. We let them in.
Highschool biology was woefully lacking when it came to describing pregnancy and birth. And while the video of the women screaming in agony while she bought her baby in the world left an impression of those with the XX chromosomes those with a Y kind of forgot about it. We need to start again. Explaining how the female body is perfectly designed for birth. Learn about the muscles of your uterus working in perfect harmony. How hormones flood your system to give you a very specific and beautiful calm energy reserved just for birth. Watch videos of women birthing in gentle ways where they are being shown respect and their partners are participating with physical and emotional support. When we let men come into the sacred birth space we owe them the respect to stop shrouding it in mystery. The process is beautiful and should be honoured with the joyous sharing of knowledge.
Men need support to step into the sacred role of supporting a labouring woman. They need to learn hospital procedures, their partner's wishes and understand their babies needs. They can't do this alone. We need to pass on the knowledge through birth classes ad open discussions. Stop the joking about 'the horror below'. Let them in on the bloody and prolonged post partum period. Have them nuture us while we feed and nuture our babies. Trust in the biological changes happening with them to make them great Dad's. They belong in the birth space we just need to make space for them.