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Husband’s Role During Wife’s Confinement

Years ago, I ran into an old friend, Dinesh Prabhakar.

“So man, Neera is in the family way, I am told. Going to be the proud father? By the way, when should we expect the big news? Before

long, I guess,” I virtually bombarded the old boy.

Imagine his reaction!

“Yes, of course, Neera is expecting. But then, what is so great about it?” he replied. “On the contrary, I am scared like hell. Right away I am beginning to be in hot soup. The actual arrival of the baby is bound to cause worse problems like upsetting our routine, our way of life, and, what is worrying me most is that it is going to adversely affect my career which is yet to take off the way I indeed want.”

“Strange. But weren’t you and Neera longing for a baby so passionately until recently?” I questioned him.

His answer: “Well – yes, we were. But now that it is going to happen in actuality, I am at my wit’s end. Confused! Utterly confused!”

Are you too sailing in the same boat, my friend – apprehensive that the arrival of the baby would shatter your lifestyle?

In the first place, remember that one of the several things you had promised your partner during courtship and/or at the time of wedding was: “I shall take care of you.” Now that she is expecting the baby, it is time to help her, keep her morale high and cheer her up. It will cost nothing but do her a lot of good.

Most husbands regard wife’s pregnancy as a low-key affair. That is just not fair. Opinions may be evenly split on the quantum of assistance the husband should provide. There is, however, consensus that he is a player on the scenario.

A good husband is a good friend, counsellor, playmate and what not. Learn all that you can about your wife’s pregnancy as also childbirth along with her. Watching the things happen under your nose will make it most interesting for both of you.

Try to read the books or brochures that she reads. Discuss the things with her. But, for God’s sake, do not frighten her. A young man would borrow dreadful stories from his friends about childbirth and whisper these straight into his wife’s ears. Before long, she would develop such dreadful ideas about pregnancy and childbirth that she would virtually want to run away from the idea of having the baby. That is the worst role a husband can play.

Also ensure that bad literature does not reach her. Such stuff may be interesting to read but leaves very adverse effects on the minds of pregnant women.

Accompany your wife to the doctor in the hospital or clinic, for antenatal check-up or for reservation of room to organise her future hospitalisation for delivery. Once she finds herself convinced that you have made nice arrangements for her delivery, she will feel quite confident that all is going to be fine.

Don’t forget that it is not only your wife’s problem to follow the doctor’s advice but yours too. Listen to the doctor carefully. Don’t lose your temper if she (your wife) makes slips. Make her understand. Let her see reason and do all this with a smile.

No doubt, you’re a busy person. Yet, you are supposed to find time – enough of it indeed – to spend with her, to listen to her problems and to her fears with patience, to make sound deductions and then sort out the things to her satisfaction. More often than not, the issues are simply “minor”. All that is needed is to reassure your wife.

Never, never, give her an anxious look. The more worry she sees on your face, the more unhappy she will become. Don’t get jittery if she gets tired easily, shows her irritation frequently, and time and again goes into depression or temper tantrums. Her behaviour may be quite strange. One moment she wants to be left alone and the next moment she grumbles a lot at your “indifference” of leaving her alone. All this, mind you, is normal in pregnancy. Even if you feel upset, don’t let your mental tension show. It is hard and disturbing to find her “feeling sick” time and again. But if you, at this stage, begin to lose your head, then you will make things harder still.

Also, don’t make the mistake of surrounding her with all the family members displaying undue concern as and when she is not well. You’ll only be making her more nervous for she is bound to think she is “very, very sick”.

When the time for delivery comes, try to be at her side. If she wants you to be present at the time of “actual” labour, don’t hesitate to do so, provided the doctor permits. The modern opinion is that the husband’s role is to provide the wife with strength by his presence during childbirth. It seems, as borne out by the psychologists, a crucial factor in making childbirth a positive event. In other words, the woman’s perceptions of the world are usually far healthier when her husband is present by her side.

Finally, this is what the noted psychiatrist, JoostMeerlo has to say: “The psychological impact of the father on the emotional development of the child has long been overlooked …. The example set by the father is vital for shaping the destiny and eventual emotional independence of the adult-to-be …. The joint relationship of the parents with the child begins at birth. As a matter of fact, if the husband is absent at the supreme moment when the woman gives birth, it may have an adverse effect on her. Later on, it may not be easy for the husband to reclaim his place, now usurped during his wife’s labour by substitute figures (obstetrician, family doctor, anaesthetist).”

Let me conclude, my friend, that if you care to share your wife’s pregnancy with her and are as well-informed as she is on what is involved, you will be able to give her the much-needed assurance and support.

For, undoubtedly, there is no other way to look forward to the arrival of the little stranger with love and longing! Right?

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