L&D-Day, Part One: Should you look down below while your baby is being born?

D-Day is defined as the day on which an important operation is to begin or a change to take effect. L&D stands for Labor and Delivery. Let’s talk about the day that you have a baby.

This series of posts is intended to prepare new parents for EVERY aspect of having a baby. While your baby’s birthday is not a day that lends to very much planning, human nature makes many try to plan their delivery to the smallest detail while hopefully remaining at least somewhat flexible. I pose the following question BEFORE you find yourself looking down the proverbial barrel of destiny.

To look or not to look? That is the question.

There are many things that should be decided before you show up to Labor and Delivery to have your baby. Who is going to be there with you? Who is going to cut the cord? What name are we going to bestow upon this new human? One question that some don’t think about until the day of is whether or not you plan to watch as the baby is being born.

I’m not talking about in a c-section.

There are surgeries known as “gentle c-sections” with one component being using a clear drape instead of the opaque one that you cannot see through. Some people cannot handle seeing that graphic of a delivery. This is major surgery. Few people can stomach that full frontal. Even Wanda Sikes has a bit about standing up to see her children being born during her wife’s c-section, after which she sat down and calmly whispered to her wife, “You are about to die.” Apart form the newborn, there is nothing cute about a c-section.

Side note- some other components of a “gentle c-section” are to keep the baby with mother, and to play music during the c-section. I routinely do this during my operative deliveries and always let the mother pick the musical selection or genre. I have delivered to Bach and to Jay-Z. Good times.

To Look or Not To Look is in reference to a vaginal delivery.

Will your partner look at your vagina while you push a human out of it? Will you? You know we have mirrors to allow you to see your progress. I’m partial, but I think that the site of pushing a six to nine pound human out of a space formerly only big enough for a hot dog (easy fellas), is both miraculous and wonderful. It defies logic, and I love it. If you look, sometimes you can also appreciate your pushing efforts differently. Seeing how different muscle movements affect the baby’s movement can maximize your efforts and help ensure that the energy used is productive. If your gonna push, push as well as you can.

Some partners don’t want to see all of the blood involved. I told you that a c-section is messy, but a vaginal delivery isn’t exactly tidy. Between the blood, amniotic fluid, sometimes baby poop, and sometimes mommy poop, vaginal deliveries are not for the squeamish.

Most partners look, or pass out. Just kidding. Most don’t pass out and most look, whether they planned to ahead of time or not. It’s hard to not look. Some partners don’t want to see the delivery. I wonder if it is because of the vaginal distortion that takes place. I asked the question on Facebook. No one ever said those exact words, but I just suspect that it may be an unspoken thing.

Some women won’t let their partners look.

Actually, this is what sparked the idea of this post to begin with. I delivered a couple’s baby and the partner absolutely wanted to look (you could just tell how the eyes drifted and the curiosity sparked) but the mother wouldn’t let him. She kept reminding him to not look down there in a “no really, this is not an option” fashion. I found myself in my own feelings.

On the one hand, I consider myself someone who marvels in the majesty and mystery of a vaginal birth. Denying someone who is steps away from the opportunity to see this feels wrong. ON THE OTHER HAND, this woman is delivering this baby out of HER body. SHE has every right to decide who gets to see her in one of the most private and vulnerable moments of her life. While I think that the partner should be able to see their child born, does his mother have the RIGHT to see her grandchild being born? What about the patient’s father. While those family members are comfortable for some women during delivery, others may have a comfort level that does not support vaginal spectators or ANY kind. For all I know, the lights may have been off during the conception and every practice conception.

So what’s the verdict?

Well, my Facecbook research did yield one constant finding. For the guys who looked, they almost universally reported being fascinated with the delivery and the emergence of their newborn child. They did not report regret, nor did they report looking at their partner differently in any negative way. While every woman has control over her own body and who sees her in one of the most vulnerable times in their lives, I encourage women who are concerned about their partner seeing the birth of their baby to think of the beauty of birth of their baby AND the beauty of their VAGINA. You Cute Boo!

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