We are on a girlie week-end, climbing hills in the Derbyshire dales, and staying in a bed and breakfast. We are all escaping motherhood for a day or two. Over breakfast one morning, a conversation begins about peeing in the company of our husbands. I am surprised to hear a few women say they have never had a pee with their husband in the room. It turns out they have never broken wind in front of him either. I kind of think this is an awesome feat of bodily control that I wouldn’t be able to achieve! It reminded me of how different we all are.
But it got me thinking, that if you feel embarrassed to go to the loo with your partner in the room, what must it be like to try to have a baby with him in the room? Having a baby is not particularly alluring, it involve body parts, it involves smells and noises, it is not “lady like” particularly, or “sexy”.
I have been thinking these things for a while, but not had the courage to write them down. There is something, even in our modern day liberated lives, that is not okay about writing about women’s bodies as functional rather than objects of desire. So, as you read this, notice any discomfort you might feel, and ask yourself “why is it not okay to read about my body in this way?”
Do you pee in front of your husband? Do you change your sanitary wear in front of him? Do you break wind in his presence? Do you orgasm freely and loudly with him? If so, birthing in front of him might be easier. Because birthing is about your body parts, and it is about things coming out of your body, and it is about letting your body be released from your mental inhibitions.
To orgasm freely, we need to feel uninhibited. We need to feel that we are not being judged or watched, to not feel self-conscious. Birth is the same. I’m not talking about orgasmic, hippy dippy births (yes, orgasmic births actually exist). I’m talking about all births without drugs, or knives. Because your body needs the hormone “oxytocin” to birth without a drug or a knife, and oxytocin disappears if we feel judged, self-conscious or worried.
So, it stands to reason that if you get very self-conscious at the thought of your partner seeing you being anything other than sexy and alluring, you might struggle with his presence at the birth. You might not want him to see you grunting or sweating. You might not want him to see you breaking wind, weeing, or even letting out a little poo. Having some-one in the room, who makes you feel anxious or inhibited is not good for birth. So think very carefully about your partner’s presence, and if you’re not sure, then my advice is to address it, discuss it, think about it, as part of your birth preparation. Sophie Fletcher, in her book Mindful Hypnobirthing, is one of the few birthing books to even talk about the fact that he doesn’t have to be there. It is a choice. If you know that you do want him there, prepare for that. The Mindful Mamma classes spend a lot of time of partners’ role. Learn how he can help you to elicit and release your oxytocin via his connection and love. Mark Harris talks about this in his book “Men, Love and Birth”. Ina May Gaskin maintains that the kissing that got baby in there, can get baby out too 🙂 Michel Odent argues that men’s presence in the birthing room might account for the rise in intervention. There’s no right and wrong. As I said at the beginning, we are all so different. But if you’re preparing for your birth, don’t prepare without addressing what it’ll be like for you to have him there, and what role he is going to play.
Birth Doula and Mindful Mamma hypnobirthing practitioner