A single mom question that drives me nuts!

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Of all the questions I get over and over again from single pregnant women, none bothers me quite as much as “Should I have my child’s father in the delivery room with me?”

What are you, insane? Seriously? To give you an idea of how nuts this question is, let’s rephrase it a little. What if you asked “Should I have my ex boyfriend/husband, a man who has hurt me terribly and causes me a great deal of stress, sadness, insecurity, anger, and a plethora of other negative emotions, in the delivery room with me?”

It’s the exact same question.

Sure! Why not? Why not invite all your ex boyfriends while you’re at it? Because your comfort and emotional security during one of the most physically trying, intimate, and powerful experiences in your life isn’t important. What’s more important is that any man you ever slept with gets to horn in on that moment with you, because sleeping with you at any point gives him ownership over you or something.

“But, he’s my baby’s father.” I often hear in response, as if that makes him somehow more worthy to be there with you. Why not have his parents in there too? They’re your baby’s grandparents, after all, maybe they have a right to be there. Maybe all his siblings do, his aunts and uncles, his cousins. And while we’re at it, let’s get every distant relative of yours in there too.

Blood relation, no matter how close that relation is to you or your baby, does not give anyone the right to be in the room with you. The only people who should be in the delivery room with you are people who are going to love you and support you through your birth process. And medical professionals.

Trust me, your baby is not going to know or care if it’s biologic father is staring at your vagina as it crowns. It’s not going to be looking for it’s daddy as it first opens it’s eyes. It’s going to be listening for the voice it’s been hearing every day for the past twenty weeks, it’s going to be searching for the smell that’s permeated it’s nostrils for as long as it can remember, it’s going to be seeking out the food that was specially designed for it, and none of these things belong to it’s biologic father, they are all you. Your baby is going to be looking for you, that’s all it’s going to care about. It might recognize the voices of others it’s maybe heard every day through your womb (Elijah recognized my mothers voice at birth), which is not likely to be your ex’s voice, but by far, the voice it’s going to care most about is yours. It’s not going to know a man who wasn’t there with you throughout your pregnancy from a wall. If all your baby cares about is you, maybe you should care about you too, and not have anyone in the room with you that doesn’t offer either loving support to you, or medical assistance.

I’m not saying this because I’m angry and bitter at men for running away from their responsibilities as fathers. I’m not out for revenge by saying “don’t have him in the delivery room”. Honestly, most dudes are not going to want to be there anyhow. They couldn’t handle the pressures of being there for a pregnancy, which literally is the easiest part, they certainly aren’t going to feel comfortable in the delivery room with you. They don’t even want to be having sex with you anymore, why would they want to do something this intimate and hard with you? They don’t. Not asking them isn’t revenge, it’s doing them a favor. And trust me, I don’t like doing these dead beats a favor either, but your first priority has got to be doing what’s best for you and your baby, whether that impacts your ex positively or negatively.

As for those few men who want to be present while their ex girlfriend/wife is in labor, I honestly believe it’s because they are abusive at some level, and want to take this opportunity to take advantage of you in an intimate and vulnerable state to fear monger you, harass you, control you, and cause you more pain. At least that’s the majority of them. Don’t let these sick bastards do that to you. Keep yourself and your baby safe from abuse, please.

No, this opinion isn’t based on a need for revenge, it’s based on science and my knowledge of birth. Labor is regulated by certain hormones, primarily love hormones, such as oxytocin. For labor to progress, you must continue making those hormones throughout the process. If for any reason you stop making them, or start making fear and stress hormones in quantities great enough to over power the labor hormones (such as by having someone in the room who makes you feel sad, self conscious, angry, betrayed, hurt, afraid, intimidated, etc.), labor is going to stall, complications are going to pop up, things are going to go wrong. This is a fact recognized by medical professionals, scientists, and birth experts around the world. When a source of negative emotion is in the room with a laboring woman, it jacks up labor. And this isn’t a hippie dippy, new age, superstition. There’s good science to back this up. When you feel emotions, your body creates hormones. These hormones can either help or hinder. Choose the people in your room wisely, so that their presence inspires the creation of helping hormones during your labor. Even animal’s labor will stop when in the presence of a perceived threat. Humans are no different.

Jacking up your labor progress puts your baby in physical jeopardy. Your baby will never know, nor remember, whether or not a man who wasn’t there with you during the pregnancy was there for it’s birth. However, if your labor stalls and then has to be augmented with labor stimulating drugs, which cause stronger and longer contractions than usual, resulting in oxygen not getting through to your baby, resulting in brain damage, your child has to live with that the rest of their life. If your child is seriously injured by vacuum or forceps extraction because of a stalled pushing phase, which is known to sometimes happen, your child will have to live with that their entire life. If you end up getting a cesarean you wouldn’t have needed in the first place had your ex not been there wigging you out and causing your labor to stall, and your child gets cut in the process (a known risk of cesarean sections), your child will live with that scar the rest of it’s life. If your c-section results in baby getting pneumonia because the lungs don’t drain as well as they do during a vaginal birth, your baby is going to have to live with that (and the greatly increased risk of death it now faces). If you end up with an infection in your incision which makes you too ill to care for your child for the first week or two of it’s life, your baby is suffering too. Or if the c-section goes wrong so that you lose your uterus and are unable to give your child siblings one day, should you wish to. And God forbid if one or the other of you dies because of complications that took place that wouldn’t have taken place if you hadn’t allowed some creep into your delivery room. Complications and the interventions used to remedy them increase both you and your baby’s risk of injury and death. About 10 to 15% labors will need some intervention anyway, but why why would you want to increase the risks of that happening to you and your baby? Especially when they probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

So should you invite your ex to be in the delivery room with you? No, I should say not. He has no legal right to be there anyhow, and if you ask me, he lost any ethical right to be there the minute he decided (or you realized) he was not man enough to be there with you during pregnancy. He can wait in the waiting room, if you’re feeling really generous. Or, you can just call him after the baby is born, either once you’re settled in your recovery room, or when you get home and settled.

Don’t let an ex boyfriend ruin your birth experience. It’s supposed to be beautiful.

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About Rockingthehomestead

Badass feminist environmentalist.
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2 Responses to A single mom question that drives me nuts!

  1. Joanna says:

    My life seems to be on a very similar path as yours, I have a four and a half year old son, his father broke up with me when I shared the positive EPT stick. And I was angry, I can honestly say of all the things that have happened to me this might possibly be the most painful. Not because I thought we’d make some happy, lovely family but because he didn’t even give it a chance and, well, he broke my heart when I was my most vulnerable. That being said after a month of not speaking and me not knowing if I ever would, he called and agreed to financial support but nothing more. Okay, I could do that, financial support is helpful. And as my son became more then a chewed up piece of gum (what he called the first ultrasound), his heart began to warm up to this little thing growing in my stomach. He never asked to be in the delivery room, I don’t know what I would have said, I would have liked him at the hospital at least, it is his son. Turns out I had him 5 weeks early, over Thanksgiving weekend when his dad was back home sharing the good news with his family for the first time, so he didn’t have the chance but I think I would have liked that. I just think if the situation calls for it and the mother is comfertable, and the man is respectful then they should be. As many times as I have wanted to yell at him, scream at him, possibly punch him in the nose that man is half of my amazing son. I have had a hard time taking the hurt out of the situation and letting him be the dad my son deserves, but through the years I have learned to just seperate the two. We even vacationed with him and his family two years ago, I just feel blessed that my son has two parents that although couldn’t make it work have tried to make it as “normal” as possible (I hate that word, there is no normal when it comes to families). Either way he has a mom, dad, and step-dad who love him with their whole hearts (I just had a baby girl too- see very similar paths). I wish I could tell single pregnant mom’s whatever happens, however many tears you cry, how angry you feel, however it turns out it’s going to be okay and turn out exactly how it was supposed to.

  2. Jessica says:

    I wanted to thank you for this post. My ex left me when I was 4 months pregnant with our third child. I struggled with this question for months. I asked friends, family, my midwives, anyone who would listen, whether I should call him to be there for labor, or call him after. I found your post, bookmarked it, and read it often. Still, I wavered. Somewhere around 8 months I decided I would not call him until after the baby was born. But still I was encouraged to change my mind. I did not tell him. Labor started, and I had no desire to have him around. I didn’t need him, I had already been doing everything on my own, my mom was already watching my older kids. I got to birth my baby in peace, with loving family and caregivers at my side. I tried calling and texting him a few hours later, but he didn’t answer. He called the next night and I told him, but he was out of town. He stopped by a few days later. Now my baby is 4 months old and he sees our children once a month, sometimes less than that. He wanted to be at the birth, but he didn’t care enough to see our older children often before the birth, and he doesn’t see them any more often now. I am so happy that in the flooding of “invite him, don’t be bitter” I found your post, felt affirmed that my choice was okay, and had a beautiful experience without him messing with me and my emotions while I was going through labor.

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