The Important Role of the Father During Hospital Birth
This article is written to empower future fathers. It is dedicated to all the beautiful men who want to take part in the birth of their children but who have no idea what they can do to contribute to the experience of birth.
The suggestions outlined below are intended to fill a void – i.e., a void that runs very deep in our culture due to its tendency to focus on women’s role during birth while relegating future fathers to the peripheral background. Throughout the western world, there is virtually no education or support for fathers-to-be. The lack of information about the masculine role at birth has left many men feeling impotent and confused during the birth of their children and unable to play an integral part in the process. Assigned the menial position of “spare part” by the medical profession, fathers lose the respect of their partners at birth and are unable to fully bond with their children. The alienation of fathers at birth is at least partially responsible for the breakdown of family love on our planet and the reason why men are leaving their families in droves. As one heartful father recently commented:
“I took my wife to the hospital and I lost her there. She was never my wife again. A few months after the birth of our son, we were getting divorced. I haven’t seen or spoken with my wife or my son in many, many years.” David B.
It is imperative for men to reverse this negative trend and reclaim their power at birth.
The information that follows is intended to ignite a flame of understanding and remembrance within the male psyche regarding just how important a father’s presence during birth really is. The suggestions are articulated in a very blunt and honest way so as to spark men into action regarding the reclamation of their power. Because hospitals are where most babies are being born today, the following suggestions are geared toward fathers whose baby’s will be born in a hospital.
[Special thanks to Doula Patti Ramos, Angie Garrapata and Midwife Carol Gautschi for the beautiful photographs you are about to see. PLEASE NOTE THAT SOME OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS ARE GRAPHIC IMAGES OF CIRCUMCISION. Those with weak constitutions may not want to view these photographs.]
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Suggestion #1 – Educate yourself about hospital birth and especially about the negative effects of common hospital procedures such as induction, epidural, the use of drugs like pitocin and cytotec, forceps delivery, vacuum extraction, episiotomy (i.e., slicing a woman’s vagina when the baby is ready to emerge), c-section, cutting a baby’s umbilical cord immediately after birth, and the circumcision of baby boys. Many hospital protocols are violent and abusive, and especially with respect to procedures such as episiotomy and circumcision, represent some of the most sadistic and ritualistic forms of sexual abuse occurring on our planet today. Although this truth is rarely talked about in the mainstream world, it is nevertheless the truth. If you google “negative side effects” or “complications” of any of the procedures listed above, you will be led to a plethora of information about the negative impact of habitual hospital protocols. It is imperative for you to understand the shadow side of hospital birth so that you can protect your partner and child from unnecessary and harmful interventions.
Suggestion #2 – Become a fierce protector at birth so that no harm will come to your partner and baby. This is one of the most powerful gifts you can offer, both as a man and as a partner/father. Since your partner and baby will need to be giving all of their attention to the birth itself, it is up to you to protect the birth environment. Do whatever you can to bring your full power and potency into the birthing field and stand strong in your intention to keep your partner and child safe from unnecessary hospital interventions. If protecting your loved ones means threatening to file a lawsuit against a medical professional who attempts to engage in a harmful act, do it. If it means creating a birth plan ahead of time and having the doctors sign a written agreement before the birth, do it. Whatever it takes to protect the birth environment of your partner and child – DO IT. Your courage and willingness to speak-out and stand-up to outside authority is invaluable. It is the single most important thing that you can do to enable your partner and child to feel safe and to trust that you are strong enough to protect them and keep them from harm. Your partner will respect you immensely if you do this, and your child will thank you profusely.
Suggestion #3 – Heal your own birth trauma before attending the birth of your child. This cannot be stressed enough and is particularly important if you, yourself, were born in a hospital.
95% of American hospital births are considered traumatic, with 50% of these being considered “moderately traumatic” and 45% being considered “severely traumatic.” Millions (perhaps billions) of people suffer from unconscious memories of what was done to them at birth. Although most of these memories remain unconscious throughout our adult lives, they nevertheless influence all aspects of our health and personality, AND as soon as a person enters into the experience of a hospital birth, the memories can and do “activate.” If this happens to you, it can undermine your ability to be powerfully present during the birth of your child.
Many men, especially those who were circumcised as infants, experience symptoms of parasympathetic shock (i.e., the tendency to freeze, go numb, or feel paralyzed in the presence of threat) as soon as they enter into a hospital birth environment. Although these men may not consciously remember the event of circumcision, their bodies remember and their physiology responds accordingly. Because the conditions of their child’s birth remind them of the conditions of their own birth, they freeze or go numb and are unable to stand in their power and enact their role as fierce protector during the birth of their children.
It is important for men to understand that most baby boys are circumcised WITHOUT ANESTHESIA. The baby is violently strapped down to a board, unable to move, but sees and feels everything that the medical “professionals” are doing to him. His vulnerable, newborn sensory apparatus is completely overwhelmed by the extreme pain, violation, and betrayal of the circumcision experience and his system has no choice but to shut itself down – i.e., to go numb, freeze, or “play dead.” This is the beginning of the tendency toward parasympathetic shock, a tendency that can last throughout the child’s infancy (many people will comment on what “good” babies these babies are because they express little or no emotion) and can rear its ugly head throughout life, especially in circumstances having to do with sexual interaction and/or birth.
When I make the claim that medical professionals are engaged in extremely violent, sadistic and abusive behavior, this is an understatement. If you would like to understand better what baby boys are being subjected to during circumcision, please view the following clips. The first link contains footage of a real baby being circumcised. The second link contains footage of a medical professional teaching other medical professionals how to perform a circumcision. Both clips are incredibly difficult to watch but will give you great clarity about the violence of the circumcision procedure.
1. A real circumcision – from the documentary “Birth As We Know It” by Elena Tonetti: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmX6RdRNoqk
2. The Circumsafe Method – a doctor describes the “proper” way to perform a circumcision: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOV9HTBfe_M&feature=related
Suggestion #4 – If your partner gives birth to a baby boy, do not allow them to circumcise your son. This suggestion should be a no-brainer after you watch the two clips above. However, if you still want more information about the negative impact of circumcision, please read the following articles:
1. A letter from a circumcised dad regarding his decision not to circumcise his son: http://www.thedaddyexperience.com/2008/07/just-to-be-fair-im-circumcised.html
2. The Psychological Impact of Circumcision: http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/goldman1/
Remember, if we want to understand how sex and violence become intertwined in the male psyche, or why we are experiencing such high levels of sex crimes in our society, as well as male attraction to pornography and the common occurrence of impotence and sexual dysfunction in adult men, we need only look to the primal origins of adult behavior and the initial sexual violation we inflict on our infant boys. Circumcision is ritual sexual abuse. Don’t let them do this to your child.
Suggestion 5 – Do not let a doctor or midwife (or any medical professional) usurp your role as primary support person at birth. This suggestion is incredibly important for the well-being of your relationship and for the long-term preservation of love in your family.
Birth, in its most primal form, is intended to be an extremely private and intimate event. Unfortunately, with the advent of hospitals and technological interventions, birth has become an inappropriately public affair.
It is important to remember that your partner’s womb and vagina are sacred. They are the doorway through which your child is about to enter this dimension. Do not allow anyone to repeatedly prod or poke at your partner’s body or continuously interfere with the birth process by barging into the room to examine her genitals. The common hospital practice of sending strangers (i.e., nurses, medical professionals, medical trainees, etc.) into the birth room while a woman is in labor, as well the habitual tendency to force women to lie down with their legs up in stirrups and their genitals exposed for all the world to see, are completely outrageous and inappropriate. It is not OK for medical personnel to place themselves directly in front of your wife’s private parts during the birth of your child. Nor is it OK for them to shove their hands repeatedly and invasively into her vagina in order to determine how dilated she is. If you allow this type of activity to occur, an unconscious rage can emerge within your partner because you did not stand-up and protect her from violation. Similarly, rage may be activated within YOU due to the violation that you are witnessing against your partner, and an unconscious feeling that she should not have allowed another man to enter into your private space. This can cause definite long-term ramifications for the health and longevity of your relationship.
Protect your wife’s bodily integrity (and the well-being of your relationship) by insisting that medical personnel keep their hands off unless there is some type of emergency. This goes for midwives as well as doctors.
Similarly, do not let nurses, doctors or midwives snatch your baby away from you and your partner when it emerges from the womb. The first moments immediately after birth are crucial for the creation of a strong love-bond between parent and child. Insist that you or your partner be the one to catch your baby as it emerges from the womb. And make sure that your baby be immediately placed skin-to-skin on either yours or your partner’s body (preferably on mom’s body, but if she has been anesthetized, place the baby on your own body) as soon as he or she comes out of the womb. Do not allow others to take center-stage during the birth of your child.
Suggestion #6 – Make eye contact with your baby immediately at birth in order to maximize the opportunity for LOVE to activate within your own neurobiology and that of your baby’s. This is an extremely important suggestion and goes for both you and your partner.
The moment of birth offers a unique window of opportunity for the activation of love for all family members. The particular neuro-chemical soup that is available during birth (i.e., oxytocin, endorphins, and other hormones of love and well-being) will not be available in the same way at any other moment during life. Immediate eye contact with your child can support the activation of the neurobiology of love within you and your child, which will allow you to cement the bond between you and lay the groundwork for the preservation of love in your family forever.
On a fundamental human level, babies need to look into the eyes of love immediately upon their arrival. This experience would happen naturally if birth were occurring in a gentle, loving environment. Unfortunately, most births are not happening in a gentle environment, and on the contrary, are taking place in an environment filled with harsh lights, loud sounds, technological equipment, frightening-looking sharp and pointy metal instruments, people wearing masks and gowns, etc. – all of which can terrify and confuse a newborn infant. Therefore, in order to combat the frightening and traumatic sights and sounds of a hospital environment, it is extra important for your love-filled eyes to be the first visual thing your child sees.
Similarly, it is extremely important for you to hold your child and place your child skin-to-skin on yours or your partner’s body. This will activate your baby’s sensory mechanisms to produce the neuro-chemicals of love, which will create an imprint of well-being that can last a lifetime.
Suggestion #7 – Do not allow medical personnel to cut your baby’s umbilical cord until well after the cord has stopped pulsing. Better yet, cut the baby’s umbilical cord yourself.
Standard hospital protocol involves clamping and cutting the baby’s umbilical cord immediately after birth. This habitual hospital practice is violent and unnecessary and can traumatize your baby and undermine his/her health.
When babies first emerge from the womb, they are not breathing. Instead, they are receiving all of the oxygen they need from the placental blood as it pulses through the umbilical cord into their tiny little bodies. When their umbilical cord is immediately clamped or cut, the baby’s oxygen supply is abruptly cut off, forcing him/her to gasp for breath in fear for his/her life. Additionally, the baby’s connection to its mother is abruptly and violently severed, at a time when the baby is extremely vulnerable and the connection to its mother is most vital. This brutal hospital practice can create a long-lasting imprint of trauma for your child and even undermine his/her health.
The blood that is pulsing through your baby’s umbilical cord contains vital nutrients to help your baby create a strong immune system. Your baby will be denied these nutrients if his/her umbilical cord is clamped too soon.
Be aware that hospitals have a financial incentive to cut umbilical cords quickly because they are in the business of gathering up the cord blood and selling it off to the highest bidder. The real reasons for this are not something I wish to address in this article. However, it is important for you to understand that your baby’s cord blood belongs with your baby and not with some vampiring entities or institutions that want to use it for their own sordid reasons.
There is absolutely no medical reason why hospital personnel cannot wait to cut your baby’s umbilical cord. If they try to do this too soon, step in and protect your child.
The best option of all would be for you or your partner to clamp and cut the cord yourself – once you have determined that it is safe and appropriate to do so. This would be the most honoring and loving approach to the cutting of the cord and would allow your baby the time he/she needs to adjust to life outside of the womb. It is also possible (but extremely rare in the case of hospital birth) for parents to choose “lotus birth” – i.e., allowing the cord to fall off on its own – which usually takes several days. In this way, you will know your baby is absolutely ready to deal with his/her individuation and has had the time necessary to adjust to separation from its mother.
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The above suggestions ought to get you started on the road to empowered fatherhood. If you would like more information about the father’s role during conception, pregnancy and birth, feel free to visit my website: http://www.BirthofaNewEarth.com or tune in to my television show “Birth of a New Earth”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICjfbI_JoJs. Also, keep watch for future books and classes being offered especially for men.
Here’s to all the dads who plan to enact their full power and potency during birth!!! Our planet needs you desperately and the women and children soon to give birth thank you. May your days of enlightened fatherhood bring you much joy and the love in your family last forever.
Jeanice Barcelo, M.A., is a sociologist, a conscious birth educator, and a prenatal and birth trauma prevention specialist. She is an international speaker, a TV and radio show host, and founder of the forthcoming “Birth of a New Earth International School for Conscious Procreation.” She offers educational seminars and private counseling as well as teacher trainings and a 12-week program designed especially for men. To contact Jeanice, please visit her website at http://www.BirthofaNewEarth.com.