This is part 4, a few days after the birth what are my overall feelings about the experience of labor from a fathers perspective.
Firstly I'd have to recommend sharing in the experience with your partner. I know it was tempting to leave it up to Clare and her Mum but we would have missed out big time. It has given us a shared experience (well okay I didn't exactly go through what she went through) and a bond that I don't think a marriage could possibly emulate. It is also a great start to our family, Clare and I as a team going through all that together. It seems so much more real and authentic than if we were just delivered the baby into our arms with no drama.
For the squeamish Fathers I'd say don't worry, if I can do it then anyone can. You don't need to look at everything, and if you are in a pinch, natural instincts take over and your squeamishness takes a back seat.
Pain relief, for the love of God don't take advice from me. Although when Clare left the Hospital a few hours after giving birth the Midwife commented 'I wouldn't have told you this, but there is no way you would be walking out of here now if you had gone for an Epidural'. Clare tells me she is glad I talked her out of it.
Apologies to my daughter if she ever reads this, but I'd expected to fall head over heels in love with her at first sight, perhaps even more than with her mother. In fact I felt much closer to her Mother than ever, and although I was thrilled to have her with us at last, she was just a baby and I didn't know her yet.
My main advice for both mother and father for labour is as follows. Eat regularly and eat well leading up to the birth. Sleep as much as you can, so you can be in the best possible state for the task ahead. Under no circumstances get drunk, it was bad enough with no sleep or food, if I'd have had a hangover I'd have been sunk. Don't be shy with the gas and air, suck it right in. Experiment with different positions as some can give more relief than others. I found a birthing ball useful to sit on for Dad, rather than a chair, more comfortable and I could move around on it to get into a good position for Clare.
Lastly for the Dads, the hospital staff are great but some can judge you as someone who is just there for appearances and would rather take a back seat. Don't let them make you take a back seat, if you want to be involved then get stuck in. It can be a little intimidating sometimes but it's your baby and your partner so you don't need to be a passenger.
Lastly good luck, and I hope you find it as rewarding as I found it.