My husband Addison was a spectator at our daughter Willow’s birth in the hospital. At our daughter Iris’s birth at home, he was a participant.
“Laboring with Willow”
He boiled pots of reserve water for the birthing tub. He assisted me into the tub when Iris was crowning, so I could have my desired water birth before she came quickly spiraling out. He held her skin to skin while I got cleaned up. He and Willowcut the umbilical cord after Iris’s first feed. Then our new little family climbed into bed, and Addison turned on the football game in the comfort of his own home.
The difference in his involvement and comfort between the births of our daughters has impacted the way in which he bonded with our girls. Addison and Willow totally adore one another, but their relationship has required some nurturing. Addison and Iris’s bond has been unshakeable from the start.
Given the opportunity, a mother bonds to her biological child through a beautiful orchestration of hormones throughout her pregnancy and especially immediately after birth and during breastfeeding. A father– while his testosterone levels dip to an all-time low after the birth of his child (which facilitates bonding)– generally requires a different effort.
And just as a mother’s relationship with her child is influenced by birth practices, so is a father’s or partner’s.
“What I offer is not to liberate or empower one gender,” Salmon writes on his website. “It is simply to empower the people who chose to bring a life into this world through love and selflessness.”
Salmon explains that there is rightfully a lot of focus on the mother throughout her pregnancy and birth, but not so much concern for the partner.
“It’s not fair to the partners because they don’t know what they could experience,” Salmon says.
A mother and her partner both have the potential to be positively transformed and empowered through the birth experience. When the mother and her partner revel in it together, they create a powerful team, ready to care for their baby and one another.
Like most doulas, Salmon provides emotional support for mothers. But Salmon also stresses the importance of making himself available to the partner so he or she may voice concerns and curiosity.
Preparation for this partnered birth begins with proper childbirth education classes, Salmon explains. He finds that when partners share this time to prepare for the arrival of their child, there is much more engagement between the two during labor and delivery and thereafter.
Brian The Birth Guy childbirth classes focus specifically on the goals of his clients. He works to instill confidence in even the most fearful and uncomfortable of expecting parents.
“I always challenge parents to look at the dark corners of birth, things they aren’t sure about,” he says. “When you go to the dark corner it’s always scary, but if you have a flashlight it’s a little less scary.”
Salmon’s interactions with expecting parents prompted him to take Healthy Children Project’s The Lactation Counselor Training Course.
In addition to his “dude-la” work, Salmon owns BabyVision Ultrasound, an imaging center where he sees around 200 patients a month.
Here, Salmon also has the opportunity to facilitate discussions about breastfeeding.
After taking the CLC training, Salmon now makes sure not to dry baby’s hands after birth. This way, she can track the amniotic scent on her hands to the similar scent excreted by mom’s Montgomery glands.
Discussion of the dangers of informal milk sharing in his CLC training has prompted Salmon to start free breastfeeding classes which began May 1.
At Project Baby Feed, Salmon will discuss the importance of breastfeeding, what’s in breastmilk and how breastfeeding works.
“What blows people away is that [human] milk is different at every feed,” he says. “People just don’t understand breastfeeding, but if I can get to them, I can get their palates wet and get them curious.”
An accessible and reliable education is so important for new mothers because too many moms hear breastfeeding horror stories from the people they admire most, he continues.
Salmon reminds us though that birth and lactation education isn’t exclusive to females or mothers.
“I would love to see more men get involved [in birth work,]” he says. “Some men get worried or nervous to get involved as birth professionals and doulas, but there is nothing wrong with that.”
Male concerns might include finances and alienation. The birth world is not always lucrative; men may also feel intimidated in a predominantly female field.
Salmon encourages males passionate about birth and breastfeeding to get involved because they have a unique opportunity to connect with dads and other partners.
Fortunately, Salmon confidently reports that he doesn’t struggle with challenges specific to being a male caregiver.
“It’s a matter of people being able to feel your heart and what your motive is,” Salmon says. “It’s about them knowing you’re there because you are really committed to them.”
And committed he is. When families pass through his imaging center and learn that their baby will be stillborn, Salmon offers doula services free of charge.
These births hold a special place in his heart because their birth is the only time for them to care for their babies, he says.
Learn more about The Birth Guy and his services at http://thebirthguy.com/