May 22, 2013 by Dadinator
There’s a lot of stuff about second pregnancies that sucks compared to the first time. Certain symptoms such as morning sickness and pelvic instability, can come in harder the second time through. You also have a kid to look after during the whole process. The Wife is feeling very nostalgic for the first pregnancy when she could take naps during the day. This time it’s not so easy. Also, while its still magical and wondrous, your first baby was the first time for a lot of things. You also don’t bother with as many books or random purchases.
The other day The Wife was asked that question that gets asked a lot “How many weeks are you?” She actually had to look it up in her diary to check, she didn’t know off the top of her head. I’m a bit more of a technophile, I would have just checked the pregnancy app on my phone if I was lost. It tells me very useful things, like this week The Lass is the length of a corn-cob (last week it was a mango from memory). She sounds delicious. I can’t help but feel we may be being a bit blase about the whole thing.
There are some plusses to the second time around though. It’s less scary, many less consultations with Dr. Google, or with medicos because you have a gauge of what is ‘normal’ in pregnancy this time. You also have a clear idea of what stuff you did in the lead up was helpful and what wasn’t. While this is more the purview and concern of the mother, another advantage of the second time through is that the mother can be a lot clearer about the ways in which their birth partner can help them, whereas the first time through there is a lot of blind fumbling.
The Wife was surprised by something when she gave birth to our son. Actually she was surprised by pretty much everything when she gave birth to our son, first time and all, but she found solace and an ability to cope better with the pain from a surprising source. Her GP in Melbourne had put her onto a practice called “Mindful Meditation” as a non-medical way of coping with stress/anxiety and depression. There’s an interesting story on it from Radio National here. The Wife had also gotten into books that were part of a movement called “Hypno Birthing”. They involved a series of guided meditations centred around birth and pregnancy, and replaced her usual mediation as a way of helping her focus on her child and her own body.
I’ll insert a confession here. I thought it was bullshit. I said so. Even though I doubt I could have changed my thoughts, I regret saying so. At the very least I should have shut up.
Here is my simple piece of advice: Your wife/mother of your child/person you are there to support through childbirth needs you to be onside and to suspend your own disbelief if necessary. If they think it will help, or if it gives them confidence, then it is going to help them in some way. Obviously you need to be on the look out for practices that might cause harm/undue risk, and you have to be on the look out for rip-off merchants, but if she wants to pray and you’re an atheist, you let her pray.
Anyway back to the story. When The Wife was in pre-labour she asked for an epidural. She was under the impression that the pain she was feeling, at any moment during pre-labour, was only the tip of the iceberg. That an avalanche of new pain was always around the corner. However, she discovered she was wrong. She actually hit the peak pretty quickly, and her labour progressed quickly too. So quickly that the anaesthetist never had the chance to arrive in time. When she was told it was time for the baby to come and that she couldn’t get an epidural she turned to the visualisations and mediative techniques she used at home and she found some relief in them. It actually surprised her that they had any effect at all, but there it was. From the outside looking in, she simply went silent which scared me. If I had participated more fully in her preparation I would have been more prepared for this myself. And maybe I would have been more help.
So this time around I’m participating in and supporting her in these relaxation exercises, the way I now wish I had the first time. You never know what is going to help or not help the first time through. But forewarned is forearmed as they say.
So dads-to-be out there, be a good support person. Bite your tongue if you have to, help where you can and be a part of it.