Natural Birth

Husband's opinion (long)

I am a frequent lurker, but never posted since I don't have any advice because I haven't yet been successful going med-free.

Backstory:  Water broke with #1, no contractions, started on pit immediately, tried Nubain, epidural that only worked on my left side, pushed for 45 minutes, still have numb spots in my back from epi hitting a nerve.

#2- Prodromal labor for 3 days.  Sent home on Wednesday with contractions 5 minutes apart, back on Friday, 8 cms, labored for 3 hours, gave in to epi because I was scared of delivering med-free, epi went up and I was numb to my earlobes and having trouble breathing, turned off epi just in time to deliver DD with one push only 4 hours after admission.

#3- 31 weeks pregnant and adamant about going med-free this time.  After 2 failed epidurals, it's just not an option.  I'm seeing a mid-wife that is part of the practice at our local hospital.

I'm not sure how much the backstory is necessary, but I included it just so you could get to know me.

Now, I want to have a homebirth this time, but H says no way.  He isn't supportive of going med-free at all.  His thoughts are that I shouldn't endure the pain since medicine is available.  He doesn't understand the damage done and fear from 2 failed epi's. 

How much would your husband's opinion influence your decision.  Do you feel that it is completely up to you since it's "your body, your birth" or would you go along with what YH wanted.  I'm already 31 weeks so I think the option is off the plate for me, but I'm just curious what others think. 

Also, if you have any tips or ideas to prep for a med-free, hospital birth, I would love to hear them.  

 ETA: My rambling got a little confusing.  How much would YH opinion influence having a homebirth and/or going med-free?

DS born 1-24-2010, DD born 7-8-2011, DS2 born 9-5-2013

Re: Husband's opinion (long)

  • My husband was on the fence about my desire to go med free in the beginning.  He was a lot like your H, why not use the drugs if they are there and can help with the pain.  We took the Bradley class and it was great for getting him on board and educating him about child birth.  Once he "learned" a little bit about child birth and realized it was a natural process he was on board for med free.  I think in our society  a stigma surrounds child birth. People think it is the most horrendous, miserable thing you will ever experience and you have to have medical intervention. 

    Have you tried talking to your H and explaining how you feel?  Maybe have a midwife or doula talk to him about natural birth?

    Fortunately, my H came around and was supportive.  If he wasn't I still would have went natural.  It is my body and my right to choose  how I deliver this baby (obviously if there is no medical need for intervention). When the needle is in my back I think I reserve the right to ultimately decided if I want it there or not.

    ETA:  My husband was also anti birth center/home birth.  Since there is only 1 small birth center in our town we ended up using the hospital.  It was a good compromise and he felt better knowing that if something did happen I would be taken care of.   As for tips on hospital births-the big thing is to labor at home as long as possible.  This greatly reduces the number of interventions they will push on you.  If you arrive almost ready to push they wont really offer you an epi or much else because there is no time for it.  

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  • ec0983ec0983
    Fifth Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Love Its

    after doing hours and hours and hours of research and deciding that i wanted a natural birth in a free standing birthing center, i told my husband that if he was absolutely, 100% not comfortable with it, then we would do a natural hospital birth instead.  with that being said, i asked him to tour the birthing center, listen to the reasons behind my decision, and take some time to roll it around in his head before deciding how he felt.

    at first, he was not okay in anyway with a free standing birthing center, and he couldn't understand my desire to go med free.  i gave him some time, and then i explained to him why i wanted to do it naturally.  then we toured the birthing center.  about a week later, he came to me and told me that if that was what i wanted, he was going to be there to support me.  his concern from the beginning was that something was going to go wrong and i wouldn't be at a hospital to get the help i (or the baby) needed.  but once he heard the stats, and saw the center's procedures for handling an emergency, he felt much more at ease.

    my husband and i both had an equal part in making our baby, so i felt like we both needed to have an equal say in getting the baby out.  while the decision was ultimately mine, i wouldn't have wanted to do something that made my husband uneasy in any way, or made him fear for my life or the baby's (no matter how unnecessarily).  lucky for me, my husband respects me enough to listen to what i had to say and to acknowledge the time i put into making an educated decision for our family :)


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  • As long as someone isn't ignoring good basic judgment/safety or making completely uninformed/uneducated decisions about their pregnancy/labor than I'm in the "you're body, your birth" camp. Your husband isn't the one who has to get the baby out of him. He's also not the one who coped with two failed epis. I would think since he saw that a magical pain medication that is risk-free, works 100% of the time, and removes all pain doesn't exist with your first two labors, that he would be more understanding that having an epi doesn't necessarily mean a pain-free labor.

    I would talk to him more to find out if that was just an excuse and if he has safety concerns about a homebirth, if that's the case some education might help sway his opinion. It would be challenging to deliver at home with a husband who isn't supportive so I would keep trying to get him on board, but let him know it is ulitmately your decision and his support would mean a lot to you.

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  • DH's opinion matters very little to me when it comes to birthing. Now if I was making an unsafe choice then that would be different. I wanted to home birth and basically told him that is what I'm doing and that's final. We decided on a care provider together and we have compromised in that we won't deliver breech at home and we have a couple of other things we agreed to transfer for. Ultimately, it is my decision since it is my body. Frankly if my H ever told me he wouldn't support me going med free I would flip out. It is one thing to be wary and for him to be concerned for me, but completely another if he told me he was dead set against it. Dude I'm birthing your kid so you better support me however it ends up happening.

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  • My DH was/is 100% supportive, but if he wasn't I would hire a doula and tell him that if he wasn't supporting me I would have to hire someone who would. DH would grumble but he would acquiesce. In the end, seeing a pro birth supporter in action and watching me have a successful med-free birth might make him a believer.
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  • emt16emt16
    Ninth Anniversary 250 Answers 1000 Comments 250 Love Its

    My husband is very opposed to home birth and that was discussed long before we were even pregnant so I am fine with that and never even brought it up again though I did explain to him that I want and plan to labor at home for as long as possible.  I have a feeling if I let him he would drag me to the hospital at the very first contraction.  He is okay with that.

     I told him that I want a natural birth and have been trying to explain to him the reasons why.  He isn't against it but I still do not think he grasps my reasons why.  He is supposed to start reading the Bradley Method book I got and I hope that helps him understand that this is not just me wanting to "endure" the pain or me trying to be "strong" but that there are reasons I do not want these additional unnecessary interventions.  I think he will get it.

  • AmyRIAmyRI
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper

    I think that YH's opinion matters more in the "where" than the "how."

    I understand why someone would not be comfortable birthing out of a hospital. I choose to birth in a hospital myself. DH would NEVER go for a homebirth because he just isn't comfortable with it, and if he's not comfortable he won't be a supportive partner. Since you can see a midwife in a hospital (so a NB friendly atmosphere) I don't see a need to insist on a homebirth.

    However, the epi or not is up to you. The needle isn't getting stuck in YH's back, so he doesn't get to decide. Just do your best to explain the physical reasons that you don't want another epi and give him techniques you want him to try to use to support you in your desire for a med-free birth. If he's unwilling to be supportive, consider hiring a doula unless your MW will be with you laboring.

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  • You need to educate your husband.  Mine had actually been involved a lot in his sister's previous births because her husband worked away from home so he went to all of the appointments with her and whatnot.  Because of this he learned a lot about what happens in birth, so even though his sister ended up with all c-sections he still knows a thing or two.  That has helped us a lot.  He not only supported my decision to go med-free, but encouraged it because of what he's learned by just doing some basic pamphlet reading in the midwife's office.

    "The pain of labor" is different from, say, the pain of breaking your leg.  He's the one who keeps saying "it's pain with purpose...", "it goes away instantly...", "it's better for the baby...", etc.  He's also very active in our home study classes so he can learn even more. 

    So... well, I DON'T feel it's "my body, my birth".  We're a partnership in this and his opinion matters to me.  But I also value his opinion more since it's an educated opinion.  If he was just sitting there thinking birth is like what you see in movies I'd tell him to read a book and then get back to me.  And if he still pushed for an epi after educating himself then I'd sit down and really have a talk with him about it and discuss our options.

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  • Wow! My husband is helping to influence my decision tremendously... but in the opposite way you described. His mother is a doula and he has been present at several home water births (I've been to one). In this pregnancy, I have been a bit nervous about going a home birth, so we've agreed on a birthing center.

    Though it's the opposite situation, we've found a compromise. I'm sure you will too!

  • I found the jacuzzi tub (hospital birth with midwife) to be an absolute lifesaver for dealing with the pain. A birthing ball (exercise ball) was also good to sit on during labor - basically anything so I didn't have to lay on my back, which was excruciating.

    I haven't seen it mentioned above (though may have missed it), but many of us have watched "Business of Being Born" (get it on Netflix) to help get husbands on board with the idea of why epidurals aren't some great panacea. He still may not be on board with a home birth, but at least may get him to appreciate the med free part, and see how hospital tranfers can happen in a calm, non-emergency sort of way if medical intervention is needed.

    If your husband still isn't supportive by the time you go approach delivery, I'd hire a doula or ask a supportive friend or family member to be your support in labor, regardless of location.

    If you do end up at a hospital, you can ask for a hep lock and intermittant monitoring so you aren't chained to an IV pole or bed. 

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    DS, May 2011
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  • lrj85lrj85
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper
    My husband and I talked about my wishes to have a non hospital birth and he hates hospitals and alopathic medicine in general so we are a good fit that way. I wouldnt have had a baby with a man that couldnt number 1 support my wishes or two didnt feel the same way I did. But that is just my opinion.
  • image lrj85:
    My husband and I talked about my wishes to have a non hospital birth and he hates hospitals and alopathic medicine in general so we are a good fit that way. I wouldnt have had a baby with a man that couldnt number 1 support my wishes or two didnt feel the same way I did. But that is just my opinion.


    Wow, I wouldn't go that far. Many women don't know that they even want to go med free until they are pregnant, let alone expecting a man to have a formed opinion about it beforehand. I would expect that your husband wants to support you and be willing to discuss it and work with you to come up with a solution where both of your needs/concerns are addressed. 

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  • DH's opinion would not have mattered. Granted I'm very strong willed and he has always known my intentions. There is no changing my mind, however he is very supportive and interested in the process. We are headed for home birth 2 in Jan. It's been 8 years since I was pregnant last.
  • I agree that that "how" and the "where" are two different issues.

    On the "how" - he doesn't really get much say in what medications I choose to use or not use. If you've already had two botched epidurals, why would you go down that road again? It makes a ton of sense to pursue a different kind of birth after what you've been through. "Your body, your birth" definitely applies to stabbings to the spine.

    The "where" I'd try to be a bit more sensitive on, and perhaps pursue the middle ground of a birth center if one  is available. Still though... I always come back to the fact that if someone has to "win" and someone has to "lose" the person giving birth should win. Fortunately, my DH has been happy enough to go along with my decisions (med-free hospital birth with a family doctor and a doula). He actually pushed to get the doula again this time. 

  • Both your lives will be much easier if you can manage to agree on this. Epidurals come with their own risks. Especially since you've had bad experiences with it, I would be wary. Do your research and show your husband, discus your concerns with it and how you felt the first two times. A friend recommended watching "The Business of Being Born" to learn more, I plan on it soon!

    It'd work best if he agrees with you so that if something happens, you'll both be on the same page and he'll back you up. It is your body, so your opinion is extremely important, but he is the father, so he should have some say.

    Luckily DH agrees with me on everything but one thing- I'd love to do an at-home birth, but he's really not ok with that, but I do have to agree he's right- it's probably best not to have a high-risk, first birth at home.... 

  • I educated my husband on epi's and their effects and now my husband says even if I beg for one, he won't let them give it to me. I suggest educating him about their risks, the cascade of intervention and of course your previous experiences with them. But, all in all, this is your body going through this. While I feel you should respect your H, I don't know how much say he should have in making you get an epidural.
  • I am a FTM, so I haven't had any kind of birth yet. I'm 30 weeks. 

    Personally, I am of the opinion that I am the one that carried this child for x amount of weeks, dealt with the discomfort for that amount of time, had my vag poked and prodded, etc., so it's my choice. 

    Maybe try explaining it to him this way: You had two previous epidurals, they both failed. I'm assuming that you pretty much felt everything anyway. And it sounds like with number two, you labored for a LONG time without one before getting the failed epi. I hear that 8-9 cms is the worst of it. 

    Ultimately, he's not the one pushing your child out. He's not the one that should be making decisions about how it's done. Yes, he helped to create the child, but you're the one doing the work, so it's your choice. 

    Ultimately, I wouldn't let my husband's opinions about what medication I should or shouldn't have weigh on my decision. After all, he's not the one feeling it. 

    On the other hand, I can understand where he's coming from about being hesitant about the home birth. Is there a way that he can come to an appointment with you and speak to your midwife about it?

  • My husband came around in the end, but honestly, this is the main reason why I was determined to have a doula: in the event that seeing me in pain would be so upsetting to DH that he insisted on my getting pain meds, I wanted someone at the birth who would support my choices, or at least be educated enough to know when an intervention might be appropriate. Honestly, it was those early meetings with the doula that really helped educate Hubs about natural birth: after he heard it from her, he became my biggest cheerleader, even standing up to his mom when she tried to discourage me!

    I can't say enough about how helpful a doula can be if your husband is not supportive. If you'd rather not, though, or are unable to afford one, then yes, I'd say it's your body, your birth, your choice. You shouldn't do something that hurts or scares you just to satisfy him.
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  • RMama2012RMama2012
    500 Comments Third Anniversary 100 Love Its
    edited July 2013
    I understand his reluctance on the home birth.  I would try to show him why you want it but I wouldn't push him into a situation he wasn't comfortable with.

    But pain medication?  I don't even get how any man thinks his opinion means anything here.  This is like DH getting annoyed that I would rather lay down in a quiet room for 15 minutes rather than take some aspirin for a headache.

    My husband was on my side in theory once I explained my reasons but he didn't do much on that day.  Luckily, his mom stepped up and I had a great experience.  
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  • L0L0L0L0
    100 Comments Second Anniversary 25 Love Its
    I think getting an epidural or not should be completely your choice. I really doubt it's going to end up any more painful than your other two births. Is your husband uncomfortable about seeing you in pain? I liked having a doula so my dh could take breaks, like even for lunch, to clear his head and get away from the intensity of it all. And my doula was a lot more comforting and useful to me, since she actually knew what to expect and what other laboring women have wanted. Most of my husband's well intentioned efforts just did nothing to help me during labor. That said, our marriage is still great and I just accept that he's not really a birth-watching kind of guy.
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