As Mum to two daughters, I love chatting birth stories. I had two completely different experiences with my girls – the first, a very prolonged, 36 hour attempted natural water birth followed by vontuse and episiotomy assistance. The second; a breech baby with a planned caesarean, scuppered slightly by her attempting an early arrival and as such, resulting in an early hours emergency c-section.
When discussing my first labour with some other Mums at a baby group, I mentioned that I had two birthing partners present, both my partner Mike and my Mum. One lady was quite taken aback and said to me “You had your Mum there? God, I can’t think of anything worse!” – She went on to explain that although her and her Mum were close, that she had wanted the birth of her first child to be a private moment between her and her partner, an intimate experience of their first born, where they could savour the moment – a moment with no one else but the baby and it’s parents. She said her Mum would have wound her up, she would have interfered and that her husband would have felt pushed out in the process.
Whilst I know having a parent at the birth of your child isn’t for everyone, if I had the choice I would definitely do it all over again. My Mum is sadly no longer with us, but back in 2013, she became part of the best birthing partner team I could have ever wished for.
Here’s why it worked for me.
(I guess it goes without saying, me and my Mum were very close, we had a good friendly and positive relationship, and she and my partner also got on very well! Clearly if you hate your Mother’s guts, or your partner can’t stand his Mother in Law – this isn’t going to work!!!)
We both agreed.
My partner and I discussed it in detail beforehand. It was something that we BOTH wanted, but was initially suggested by Mike. He automatically assumed I would want her there, and planted the seed in my mind. I think truth be told, deep down, Mike was genuinely nervous about his role in the labour process. He knew he would have a big role to play, and that he would have no idea what he was doing, and so the thought of a little support for him as well as me was appealing. He also had seen first hand the calming effect that my Mum could have on me, and felt that this would be more likely to prevent me from crushing every bone in his hand during contractions.
Mum felt honoured to be there…
When we asked my Mum, I think she too was a little surprised, but as expected absolutely jumped at the chance. At this point my Mum had just the one grandchild, my nephew, and was nicknamed “The Shark” as she would literally pounce on him for a cuddle within seconds of arriving in his vicinity. We knew that having the opportunity to meet her new grandson or granddaughter within minutes of their arrival was something that she wouldn’t pass up lightly!
A Mother’s Super Powers…
As supportive as my partner is and was on the day, for me, there was nothing like having my Mum there to comfort me when I was in pain. From my days as a child when I’d fall and graze my knee, Mum had this magical power of being able to calm me down and wipe away the tears. She also had this inherent ability to make me think more rationally if my mind went off on a tangent. When I hit the point of “I can’t do this!!!” – (around 15 hours in) she just held me for a while, told me that I bloody well could do it, and snapped me out of it. She calmed my breathing down and gently rubbed my back through contractions.
It is easy to forget sometimes that being a birthing partner is also bloody hard work – whilst clearly the Mum to be has the biggest role here, birthing partners also have the tough job of being mostly helpless, and simply trying to be as useful (or in Mike’s case as least annoying!) as possible. By working together, Mike and Mum were able to get much needed rests in between their ‘shifts’ of helping me. This meant they could go and get a coffee, wake themselves up a bit, have a toilet visit and make the odd phone call without me feeling like I’d been abandoned. Lets face is 36 hours is a long time for anyone to be awake.
Been There Done That…
Mum had been there and done it – twice. My Mum had been through two labours herself with me and my sister, so as a fellow female and a fellow mother, she instinctively knew what I wanted and how I was feeling in a way that Mike simply couldn’t. She knew the right places to rub, the best way to ease my symptoms and the things not to say. That said, she couldn’t hold back her hysterics when I swore at Mike snapping pics of me mid contraction (excuse language!)
The Best Gift we ever gave her…
Allowing my Mum to be present at the birth of her first Granddaughter was quite simply the best gift we ever gave her. My Mum was diagnosed with cancer when Erin was just 3 months old, and sadly lost her battle 9 months later, just after Erin’s first birthday. I was able to say goodbye to my Mum knowing that I had given her quite possibly one of the greatest gifts and thank you’s I could ever have given her. She got to see her Baby have a Baby. She was able to see me welcome my first daughter into the world, hold her within minutes of her arrival and even announce the gender (the latter was supposed to be Mike’s job, but he was too busy passing out and sliding down the wall at the crucial moment…. *yes really*).
Finally, having a supporting birthing partner at the head end means that if they want to, Dads could actually go down the other end and see your baby arrive. This was NEVER going to happen in our case as Mike couldn’t even cope at the thought of what was happening let alone the visual! For those who are keen to be involved in cutting the cord’s etc – this is a great option. It is hard to comfort and contribute at the same time!
My Mum adored Erin, and I know that if she was still here they would have the most amazing bond.
Did you have your Mum with you during labour or does the idea make you recoil in horror?