First stage labor and husband coached childbirth!
My first experience with childbirth was in 1971 at the ripe old age of 20. I had just dropped out of college and gone to work for Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis Oregon, as a janitor. I have vivid memories of entering the OB wing and hearing women screaming and crying out in pain. After my first few visits to that wing of the hospital, I did my best to get assigned duties elsewhere. So, when Shary announced to me she had picked Forest Grove Community Hospital as the place she was going to deliver and informed me that they had husbands attend the births, I told her she could count me out; not interested. Shary is pretty persuasive, that is, she doesn’t usually take no for an answer. She said all the other husbands were going to do it. I figured those husbands didn’t know what I knew. I resisted as much as I could but in the end she got me to attend the first class. In that class we watched the movie “Childbirth for The Joy of it.” In the movie we saw five women having their first babies, which are usually the hardest, and they were beyond ecstatically happy, they were crazy happy and they were not screaming in pain. I was pretty confused, but willing to check this thing out, so I attended all the classes. I was also supposed to read the book “Husband Coached Childbirth” by Doctor Robert Bradley.
In those days I didn’t like to read much, Shary was the reader, and did most of it for the both of us. During first stage labor we had been taught that Shary was to relax. What I didn’t realize was that an average first labor lasts about 14 hours and the mother can’t remember anything she read. I was going to have to help her relax for 14 hours? Rubbing her lower back was what she wanted most, but after about 10 hours I had literally rubbed the skin off my hands. I resorted to using my elbow and then my foot. I was so bored that I picked up the Husband Coached Childbirth book and started to read while rubbing. I had just finished the chapter on first stage labor, when Shary started to really complain about how much it hurt during each contraction. Like any clueless young husband, I just blurted out, “your doing it wrong”. Believe it or not, that started a fight, go figure? I finally read out loud what I had just read about first stage breathing, she was desperate, and tried it. It worked like magic, so much so, that the last part of first stage was better than the first.
So what did she do? She began to stomach breath, which is what almost all mammals do when they are in labor. When women chest breath, and tighten their stomach muscles, they are unwittingly in a fight with the most powerful muscle in the female body, the uterus. The uterus is capable of exerting 700 lbs. of pressure to expel the baby. When a mother tightens up her abdominal muscles, she is creating the pain associated with first stage labor, that’s when the moaning, rocking and screaming starts.
In our classes, we have couples stand with the mother’s back to her husband. We have the men place the palm of their hand on the mother’s back. Then we ask her to lean back till she feels pain. They will lean back with all their weight and then tell us they feel pressure but no pain. Next we ask the men to make a knuckle with their pointing finger and place that in the same spot on her back, and repeat the exercise. The moms cannot put hardly any weight leaning back without a sharp pain. This is exactly what is happening when women tighten their stomach muscles in first stage labor they are focusing all that pressure into a knuckle sized area. If they stomach breath which relaxes the stomach muscles the same pressure is spread out over a hand sized area and is simply felt as pressure.
What we tell the men who are labor coaches, is to ask the mother, where the pain is. Then have either the mother or father place their hand where it hurts and tell the mother to make the hand move as she breaths. This relaxes the stomach muscles and once again turns the pain in to pressure.
In last weeks blog, Childbirth part ll, we shared about when Shary was just beginning to consider teaching childbirth classes, a dear friend of ours, Betty Warren, called Shary one night and asked her to come to the hospital, another friend of ours from church was having a really hard time in first stage labor and Betty thought Shary might be able to help. Betty was one of the OB nurses at Forest Grove Community Hospital, she had also been our childbirth instructor. So Shary headed right over to see what she could do. When Shary got there our friend was jumping out of bed with each contraction, grabbing the end of the hospital bed, rocking and yelling. Her mother was near her calling her name and saying “This is just one of those things you can’t get out of”. Obviously, this is not the best technique for relaxing your stomach muscles. This scenario turned out to be fairly common among our Christian friends. One day we discussed this with Betty Warren and she confirmed our observation saying that Christians had the worst births. Now if you are a Christian you are probably saying the same thing we did, “what’s up with that”? Why would Christians have painful births while their unchristian neighbors have really great births? The answer is found in what the Christian mother said to her daughter “this is just one of those things you can’t get out of”.
Most Christians have been taught that childbirth is supposed to be painful. Armed with that idea it is almost impossible to get these ladies to relax. That is when we started teaching Christian Childbirth Classes and even started our own Christian Childbirth Teachers Association. Here is what we taught them, according to the bible, childbirth can be painful or just hard work. Childbirth can be awful or a joy according to the bible. The difference is in whether you trust God and relax or you don’t trust him tense up, it is just that simple. God never intended for women to be in excruciating pain during childbirth. And he surly didn’t want Christian women to have births that were more painful than non-Christians.
So what does the bible say about pain in childbirth?
And why is husband coached childbirth preferable?
First of all, if you believe the bible to be the Word of God, then you have to have an explanation for the fact that some women experience Childbirth as enjoyable. If the Bible teaches, as some believe, that childbirth is supposed to be painful then why did the women in the movie Childbirth for the Joy of It, look like they were having the time of their lives? I believe the problem is not with God’s word but with some interpretations of the Bible, from Hebrew and Greek into English.
Jesus explains the second coming to 12 men by using childbirth as an example. Evidently it was common for men to see women giving birth naturally (without drugs) in Jesus day. And more interestingly is that this was the best example Jesus could use for the extraordinary joy. Jesus was trying to explain how much joy the disciples would experience when he, Jesus, returned at his second coming. So he used the example of joy a woman has when she gives birth. This would have made no sense to me until I saw for myself, women giving birth joyfully.
John 16:19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20I tell you the truth; you will weep and lament while the world rejoices. You will Lupe (be heavy), but your Lupe (heaviness) will turn to joy. 21A woman in labor has lupe (heaviness) because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22So with you: Now is your time of (heaviness), but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take your joy.
Genesis 3:16-17 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy (Etsev) and thy conception; in (etsev) thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in (etsev) shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
In Genesis, God made four major changes for women, and one for the man, after sin entered the world. It is my belief he did this for their benefit.
- He said he would Multiply her ability to conceive. Judging by all the different methods of contraception we have invented; most people would say that a woman’s ability to conceive is more than most people want.
- God said he would give her a desire for her husband. It is amazing how strong the desire most women have for their husbands to be with them during labor and birth.
- God said that the husband would rule over her. During labor and delivery, it is undeniable the focus a women has on her husband. Often a doctor or midwife will tell a woman to do something or stop doing something, while she is in labor, and she does not hear them or does not respond. But, if we tell the husband to tell her, she will immediately listen and respond. Husbands should take advantage of this, it may be the only time in their marriage he gets that much compliance.
- God said he would multiply her (etsev) and in etsev he she would bring forth children. The Hebrew word (etsev) has a range of meanings that goes from labor to toil, to sorrow, to pain. It is the perfect word because women experience birth in all four of those ways. Ideally then, labor and birth would simply be hard work. That is exactly what women experience when they trust God and breath naturally. Yes, I realize that there can be complications that change all of that, but most women can and do give birth without complications serious complications. If you follow our guide to pregnancy found in Part I and part II, if you eat right and exercise, you can virtually eliminate those complications.
Finally God told the man that in (etsev) he would work to grow food. So, do all men experience their work as pain? No, most men would say it was labor or toil. God used the same Hebrew word to explain what the man would experience as he used to explain what the women would experience.
1 Timothy 2:14-15. …”And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman who was deceived and fell into transgression. 15Women, however, will be saved (or kept safe) through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
According to Timothy, a woman’s experience in Childbirth has to do with her faith in a loving God and her trust in him. Fear produces tension in childbirth and tension produces pain! Trust produces relaxation in childbirth and relaxation allows the uterus to work without conflict. A relaxed birth is usually a safer birth.
After we began to teach this and breathing techniques to our Christian audiences, they began to have better births than their non-Christian counterparts. We would typically have students attend our classes that had tried other childbirth techniques and failed to experience birth as a joyous experience. After taking our classes they would be ecstatic about their birthing experience. One day my wife had a couple of ladies over to the house to discuss their recent births. I overheard one say “I can’t wait to do it again”. I said, you mean you can’t wait to have another baby to hold and play with? She said no, I can’t wait to give birth again, it was such an amazing experience.
God wants you, your family and friends to experience childbirth in a non-drugged state, so that your family can be knit together in a physical and spiritual way. Each time my wife Shary and I experienced birth we became bonded in a deeper way. Our first few years together were a little rough, now she is my best friend in the whole world. Each birth added to our oneness. If it had not been for the people who shared with us how to have babies God’s way I do not think we would have made it and we certainly would not have awesome family we have today.
This Series on childbirth and pregnancy includes the following topics.
Part l Nutrition
Part ll Nutrition and exercises for a more comfortable pregnancy and birth
Part lll First stage, husband coached Childbirth. What you believe about birth will determine how it goes.
Part llll Transition
Part V Second stage and post-partum
Part VI Nursing, sleeping and circumcision,
Part VII The V approach to raising kids.
If you have questions or another perspective please send us a comment, we would love to hear from you.
If you believe God knows best, join us and the Wellness Gospel team; register for our weekly newsletter, then spread the word by sharing this with your friends on social media and may God bless you richly.
If you want to keep improving your health, and enjoy this kind of biblical scientific information, then I would like to recommend three must-read books;
- “God’s Guide to Biblical Health and Healing” by Rev. Chris and Shary Schauermann
- “Let’s Play Doctor” by Dr. Joel Wallach http://tinyurl.com/j8ybt8r
- “None of These Diseases” by S.I. McMillen, M.D. and David E. Stern, M. D.
You can get all these books at Amazon.com or simply click on the URL under each book title.
- Childbirth Part I http://wellnessgospel.net/index.php/2017/02/18/childbirth-part-l/
- Childbirth Part II http://wellnessgospel.net/index.php/2017/02/25/childbirth-part-ll/