Parents Centres successful lobbying for Partners in the Brthing Room
“I often talk to men after their baby’s birth who says they wish they could have done more, they wish they could’ve taken away the pain, and they felt helpless. Upon talking to their partner, she shares how amazing he was - he stayed by my side, I felt his love, he offered words of encouragement, he hugged me. These things may seem minor at the time, but to the labouring woman, he or she is her rock, her strength to succeed!” says Liz Pearce, Parent Education and Operations Manager at Parents Centres New Zealand.
With the imminent birth of Jacinda and Clarke Gayford’s child, it will be a given that Clarke is in the birthing room with Jacinda as she gives birth.
Gone are the days when the Dad kissed his partner goodbye at the steps of the hospital or paced up and down the hospital corridor awaiting the sound of his crying baby or an announcement from the Doctor.
Thanks to the lobbying that Parents Centres New Zealand did many years ago, fathers, partners and support people are now ‘allowed’ to be at the birth of their baby and in fact play a vital role supporting their partner and participating in the birth of their baby.
For many partners it can feel overwhelming and even daunting to be present at the birth and this is perfectly normal. It is an understandable reaction when you see someone who you love, experience pain, or challenging times, to want to step in and stop it or fix it. What is important to offer is support, encouragement and love - she will know, and she will tell you.
Having some birthing knowledge and understanding of what may happen during this journey makes a huge difference too, and we know at Parents Centre that the attendance of partners at our antenatal classes help them become fully prepared and equipped for this important role.
Dads and partners should never underestimate the importance of their role in bringing into the world this brand new baby.
“.. to be with one’s wife at the moment at which the family begins, when the child is born, unites husband and wife with a bond which will link them together and to their children as no other experience can…” was the strong belief of Dr Jim Ritchie, Senior Lecture at Victoria University in the 1960’s and a member of Wellington Parents Centre who fought hard alongside Parents Centres for fathers to be able to share this experience with their partner.