The Masculine Role in Empowered Childbirth
Protector, Guide, Pillar of Strength, Pillow of Comfort.
The celebration of the birth of a child is centered on baby, yet through all the celebrating it can be easy to forget that a mother, father and family are also being born in the birthing process. As a pregnant mother goes deeper into her pregnancy, her partner begins to embody the all the healthy aspects of the masculine as he births himself as father. This process also applies to same sex couples, if you are in a same sex relationship please replace father with partner in your mind as you read the article.
What does empowered childbirth mean? It means giving birth in a way that is mother directed and driven by her informed choices, giving her the feeling of having the amazing and successful birth she has always wanted. Be her birth unassisted at home, supported by midwives in a birth center, or a scheduled cesarean. At the end of the birth, when the baby is in their mother’s arms and the birthing mother has a strong sense of accomplishment and joy, that is what I mean by empowered childbirth.
I often hear from my pregnant mamas as they get close to their birthing date that they begin to feel vulnerable. I always smile and tell them that another word for vulnerable is open. Open is exactly where a birthing mother wants to be so she can fully give over to the birthing process, letting every sensation wash over her as she physically opens her cervix. This time of openness is also a time of suggestibility, anything that is said to her can and will go straight to her heart and mind so it is paramount that she only be around positive voices, stories, and messages of encouragement and strength. This is the point in time where I see most fathers step up and come into their healthy protector role. It is totally acceptable for papas to ask friends who are telling stories of challenging births to stop. It is powerful for papas to rephrase dialogue and comments made by health care providers that are phrased in fear instead of love. It is perfect for papas to turn off the television if a negative birthing scene is being portrayed. Papas get to hold the boundaries while mamas go through the natural transformation of ripe openness. Papas also get to hold the space for endless encouragement and belief that their partners can and will have an empowering birth; constantly reinforcing that desire brings a couple closer.
In the HypnoBirthing classes I teach, I tell a story about the scene of a father gorilla protecting a laboring gorilla. The laboring mother will sit on the forest floor while she is giving birth, and as she does so the male gorilla will pace around her in a circle. He is protecting her while providing her with company. All of my students chuckle at the image and then it clicks for the fathers in the room … they are the supposed to be the gorillas.
People ask how hypnosis can help them in their birthing experience. I tell them that openness, the time of suggestibility that every woman feels is ripe for old programs of fear to be plucked out of the subconscious while new seeds of truth, strength and encouragement are planted. While giving birth, the birthing mother is going deep into herself through relaxation techniques practiced in class. At the same time, birthing fathers are able to lean on all of the tools they were also equipped with in class. All tools given to fathers are centered on allowing them to be hands on in the birthing experience so they get to be present in the richness and feel like they are contributing. Light touch massage, affirmations, hypnosis scripts, assistance in birthing positions, rotating cool wash cloths on mamas forehead, and offering sips of water in-between each sensation help fathers feel useful and they get to experience the birth as a team.
At the end of every one of my class series I drive it home that fathers should never underestimate their power in assisting birthing mamas stay in their center. Fathers get to be awe struck by the power of their laboring partners while offering them the same magnetic love that helped pregnancy occur in the first place. It is a profound moment in a mans life and I hope that every man has the ability to embrace and enjoy every minute of it.
- Franchesca Duval 2015