Health & Fitness

Think twice about your spouse in labour ward

PG

Not all pregnancies are happy or wanted and women who are in difficult or hostile environments during pregnancy tend to suffer more (from PPD) than their happier sisters. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The perception of pain is related not only to its severity, but also on the psychological support one might get as they experience pain, including that of childbirth.
  • Your partner might also want to know if he is the only person who can play this role and in particular what happens if he, for whatever reason is unable to be present.
  • Other studies have shown that the kind of support that is required during childbirth can be given by a person other than the partner, including a friend, parent or even a medical person.

Q:  “Does being with your partner during childbirth help lower pain? I am due in about a month and some friend advises that I take my partner with me to the labour room”

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Your question is loaded and deep in a way that is not obvious at first. You seek to understand a number of things, including the nature of labour pain, what role pain plays and in particular during delivery and most importantly in your case if the presence of your partner helps to modulate or reduce the pain associated with child birth. We will answer some of your questions today.

As if in readiness for your question, the World Health Organisation (WHO), issued a report in March 2019 in which it concluded that the presence of a partner during childbirth is helpful to both the woman and her baby. A few years earlier, a study from Nigeria addressed itself to the same question and arrived at the same conclusion. So, as we wish you and your baby all the very best next month, you may tell your partner that his presence will be beneficial and that as he was present at the beginning, so must he be present during the conclusion.

How, he might ask, does his presence come to be of help? In other words, how does his presence reduce the pain of childbirth? To answer this question, one has to go to the psychology and indeed the nature of pain itself. In another study looking at this question, it was established that mothers who had a companion during childbirth experienced less pain than those who did not have one.

To put it differently, the perception of pain is related not only to its severity, but also on the psychological support one might get as they experience pain, including that of childbirth.

Your partner might also want to know if he is the only person who can play this role and in particular what happens if he, for whatever reason is unable to be present. Other studies have shown that the kind of support that is required during childbirth can be given by a person other than the partner, including a friend, parent or even a medical person.

This then leads to the all important question. How does this kind of support help the mother to be? Many studies have shown the importance of compassion and companionship during this most natural of events. The presence of this kind of person, gives both emotional and practical support during childbirth a process sometimes associated with loneliness if one for example gives birth in a strange place (hospital) where little compassion and care is available. Your partner, if present, acts as the physical bridge between you and the medical teams.

If he is present, your partner is also your number one cheerleader and should be able to offer praise, confidence, and reassurance during this process. If he attended some prenatal classes with you, he might also be able to massage your back during the contractions. So far so good and most romantic he might say to you. Are there any complications to this seemingly strait forward process? Sadly for you, the answer is yes. For example, if you and your partner are not in the best of terms, he might not want to give you the support that could reduce the pain you might experience.

Your relationship with your partner plays a crucial role in the support he may or not give you. Some men hold the cultural belief that giving birth is the business of women and men are present at the beginning and may not be present at birth.

Some men are naturally afraid of the process and do not want to see their partners going though the pain they put them into. Some have fainted in delivery rooms. Some say the process is so messy it might put them off intimacy in future.

In this regard, some men have described feelings of guilt, others resentment while others are angry with the medical personnel who reduce the men to useless bystanders who are in no way integrative in the delivery of their babies. Fear and confusion may lead to resentment of the whole process.

As you can see, your easy question has elicited many threads of thought and therefore as you discuss his role next month, remember to interrogate these aspects.