Home birth for dads
Luke Preston shares his positive experience of a home birth.
Hospital ward: pain, screaming; sit down, shut up and let the gynaecologist do his thing. For men in this country, that's birth, right?  And for 80% of those (in the private hospital sector), you can add Caesarean section to that list as well. Eighty percent! That's scary.

It's the norm though, and if you ask the average father-to-be what the alternatives are he'll most likely to be able to list zero. I was that man. Before a few years ago childbirth was done in a hospital, end of story. Why? Because the gynae, mom, sister brother, cousin, uncle and best friend said so.

Only for hippies?

Mention home birth to anyone these days and you get eyes like side plates and "Are you serious?!!" replies. Home births are for hippies aren't they? Well, that's what I thought. "It's dangerous, think of what could go wrong, you have no control, what about the gynae..." are the most repeated responses from people. And for good reason; we've been moulded for years to fear anything other than a hospital birth.

My first childbirth experience from my first marriage was an elective Caesarean. There was no discussion. And I'm certain that's how it rolls out for most men. Is that fair? Should men have a say in how their baby is born? The answers to these are no doubt varied, and far be it for me to say what the right answer is. I think, though, that these should be discussed together as a couple.

On the same page

We did, but then Tracey and I have always discussed everything. We're honest to the point of offence sometimes, and when she first raised the idea of a home birth my pulse quickened, beads of stressed sweat formed on my brow and I suddenly envisaged my wife shrieking at me and in a world of pain, with no one to help her, or me for that matter, blood and guts (because to the ignorant me back then that's what pops out as well) all over the place, and general stress and unhappiness for all concerned.

Tracey had home-birthed before, but it wasn't quite the experience she hoped for, but circumstances were different then and, to her credit, she wanted to try it again. Maybe this time around with the right support systems we could get it right. But, home-birthing isn't just about settling in and simply having a baby at home. We researched, planned and made sure that we were always thinking along the same lines, we never presumed the other knew what was to be expected. When we had questions of each other we asked them. Yes, even the nitty gritty ones like, "...but what if you tear babe?" One of the popular ones, if incredibly selfish, amongst men- because a torn vagina won't ever function properly again, will it? Bull dust! With the appropriate care and exercises done post delivery, things will work just fine again. Just don't expect miracles overnight guys!

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