Recently I was reflecting with Alice Domar, a women’s natural health and fertility expert, about the how differently men and woman behave on the infertility journey. We also talked about the role the man takes in the relationship and I blogged recently on my experience in our fertility journey.Like most men I thought my role was to be the ‘strong one’ however this isn’t what my wife wanted.She wanted me to be real and feel united in the emotional rollercoaster that is infertility.
It wasn’t until eight years in to our journey I was diagnosed with male infertilty (we didn’t see that one coming!) and the last scrap of hope I had which enabled me to be the ‘strong one’ fell apart.We found ourselves united in the grief and pain.Bizarrely, my diagnosis was both a curse and a blessing.It enabled me to wake up to my feelings ,be real about my grief and enabled us to continue our journey feeling untied, going on to conceive naturally a couple of years later. I had been the catalyst for me to stop being the strong one and be the soul mate in the journey my wife wanted and we both needed.
I think this experience, the male not being sure of their role can be true for childbirth.We wanted a home birth, however I was extremely nervous about the idea, being our first child I really didn’t know what to expect.Looking back I now realise it was fear generated byme not knowing my role in the whole procedure.Gone are the days of the man being in the pub around the corner from the hospital waiting until it is all over – not that I would want that, I very much wanted to be there to experience this miraculous event take place.
We did a course similar to Mindful Mamma (it wasn’t around then) and it gave both my wife and me the confidence that we could have a home birth and feel in control.It enabled me to realise how natural child-birth is and it is not something to fear.Although nothing about the circumstances had changed, we were still planning a home birth, it was still our first child, my thinking about it changed which enabled me to be more relaxed about it.
Child birth may be natural but it doesn’t always go to plan.However, even in the midst rushing around the house thinking of what we need to take to the hospital, what to do with the dog…(yes I know, ‘even though you are planning a home birth always have a bag packed’ etc…did we do it? No!) I was able to stay relatively calm and focussed on my role -to protect my wife’s space and assist her in remaining calm and relaxed.
Although it wasn’t the home birth we planned, despite the complications and extended final stage, it was natural and without any pain relief apart from a tens machine which was only turned up half way!This was thanks to the techniques we had learnt to help us stay in the present moment, focus on our breathing and feel more calm and relaxed.I would encourage you to play with this technique which does just that:
This technique utilises a natural biological relaxation process (increasing the amount of carbon dioxide you breathe in) as well as bringing your mind to the present moment. Focusing on your breathing brings you back to the ‘here and now’ rather than time travelling to the future worrying about the next pregnancy test or fertility treatment outcomes.
◦Simply concentrate on your breathing and count from 1-7 as you breathe in and from 1-11 as you exhale.
◦You can count out loud or in your head but if possible out loud can make it more effective.
◦It doesn’t need to be big breaths, just normal relaxed breathing adjusting the pace of the counting to your breath.
◦Alternatively you can count from 1 to 3 and 1 to 5 instead of 7 & 11 (which is what I do, having a small lung capacity).
◦After 10-15 breaths you may start to notice how much more relaxed you’re beginning to feel.
◦If your mind wanders just bring it gently back to your breath. The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it any time, any place without anyone knowing what you are doing.