There are many life changes during a marriage. Maybe it’s a job change, a family loss, or the birth of a child. How the two married individuals handle these changes is telling and can also either bring them closer together or push each other away. When a couple wants to add to their family, and the couple ends up choosing to add to their family through pregnancy, the mother needs support, especially during labor. The significant other has a huge role to play not only during the pregnancy but during labor. Labor is one of the most physically grueling experiences, and without support, labor can last longer and be much more challenging for the mother.
Last Tuesday I gave birth to Xander at 12:48 AM. I cannot understate how important Jak, my husband, was in this process. His dedication throughout not only the pregnancy but through labor was crucial. The hospital staff, nurses, and doctors were stunned by Jak’s presence throughout. A lot of doctors said that they hadn’t seen a husband be so present and dedicated during labor in a long time. They mentioned how some significant others will wait in the waiting room for part of it, or how some just aren’t mentally present with their wives. Jak and I were shocked when we heard this. I cannot imagine having Jak just leave the room for a while in the middle of labor. As physically exhausting as labor is, and scary, the process brought Jak and me closer and bonded us in a completely new way.
During labor, the mother is most likely extremely scared and obviously has some level of pain that increases as the hours pass by. Having their significant other there, present, 110% engaged with them can make a huge difference.
Jak and I were home Sunday night when my water broke. I was so scared and happy because it meant I didn’t have to wait until Monday to be induced. Jak started packing everything, making sure we had all we needed. Jak got the car started as I changed my underwear and pants. When we got to the hospital, Jak helped me walk in and we got a wheelchair and he got me up to the 5th floor for delivery. After triage, we got a room and settled in and our parents soon were at the hospital, too. They put me on Pitocin to get the contractions regular and stronger. Jak gave me his fidget cube (which worked wonders throughout labor might I add!) and stayed by my side the entire time. We would talk to each other, he would help me to the bathroom, he would hold my hand through contractions, and when I got the analgesic (that didn’t end up working very well) he was there, helping me through the very rough contractions, keeping me present. I got an epidural two hours after I asked for one because the anesthesiologists were all tied up, and Jak never left my side as those contractions made me cry. Once I got the epidural I felt relief (this was now Monday morning). Jak didn’t sleep at all and refused to take the fold out bed, so my mom ended up staying on it. Jak sat in the chair all night, by my side, and once the epidural set in and I could rest, he started reading me this science book he had bought because I found his voice soothing. Every time he stopped reading I ended up waking up, and so he kept reading. He got me ice chips every couple hours and brought me food while I was able to have it.
Later on Monday, I was only 5 cm and the doctor was worried that I hadn’t progressed further and mentioned if the next time they checked me there was no progress we would have to talk about a C-section. I was worried and so was Jak. We leaned on each other during those hours where we talked and tried to be comfortable if it went that way. Luckily I was 7 cm by the time they next checked and I was having stronger contractions and needed more of the epidural medication. Monday night before Tuesday they told me I was 10 cm and was ready to do practice pushes. I was terrified but Jak was there holding my leg and was the one counting. I had a cold washcloth over my eyes the entire time, but I knew Jak was there, and he tried comforting me as the pushing got harder. Once everything was over and I was stitched up and the room was cleaned, I took off the washcloth and Jak went to go hold Xander and bring him over. That experience was so bonding because of how present he was, and how he wouldn’t sleep if I couldn’t sleep and wouldn’t eat if I couldn’t eat (of course, I told him to eat because I knew he would need his energy!).
I write the story of our sons birth because as scary as the experience was, I felt so safe knowing Jak was there. I couldn’t imagine any mother not wanting their significant other with them for support and comfort, especially during the pushing phase. A partner who is engaged and supportive in labor really makes a difference, and the experience can bring the two closer. I know that Jak and I have had our trials as a couple, and this experience has just made those trials seem so tiny and has given us a new sense of commitment and a stronger bond than before – which I didn’t know was possible!