Hockey and Birth

My husband is not much into sports — the only game he really likes is hockey; and being from Chicago, his favorite team is, of course, the Blackhawks. The other day, he was watching them play what happened to be their last game of their quarterfinals series. He watched just a few minutes into the third period, when Vancouver scored yet again, and then my husband went to bed. (He has to get up early in the morning to get to school in time to watch the kids at breakfast, so he has to go to bed much earlier than he would like.) He told me that the reason he went to bed, rather than watching the end of the game, was that the Chicago players did not seem to be very energetic — as if they had given up; and also that the crowd wasn’t “into” the game. He wrote the game off as a loss, and went to bed hoping that at least Chicago would win the next and last game in Vancouver.

He was wrong. He woke up in the middle of the night to see what had happened, and then was kicking himself for having given up on the ‘Hawks, and wishing he had stayed up for it, because it was an awesome game. [And his brothers and even his sisters-in-law all agreed that it was a great game, and they were glad they stayed up to watch it.] It ended up that soon after he went to bed, Chicago got another goal. Then Vancouver got another goal or two. Then Chicago got another goal or two — it was crazy how many times they tied and/or the lead changed. I think the final score was 7 to 5, which is a very high score in hockey.

I was made to think about the excitement or energy that the crowd conveys to the team… and vice versa. Isn’t that interesting how your home crowd cheering you on can give you that extra oomph needed to get the win? Even though the crowd cannot actually do anything for the players — as far as helping them with the puck, stick handling, scoring or blocking a score — they actually do help; and by being distant, reserved, “out of it,” they can negatively impact the players on the ice.

Isn’t that the way it is in birth? The people surrounding the laboring or birthing woman cannot actually do her work for her, but they can help and support and encourage her to do her own work. Contrariwise, people who are not supportive can drag her down and discourage her from her important task.

The energy in a room is contagious — for good or for bad — so be cautious as a birthing woman who is in the room with you when you are in labor or giving birth. The last thing you want is your nervous mother tensed up in a corner urging you during every contraction to just take something for the pain (note that this is not because you need it — if you needed it, you would be asking for it yourself! — she’s asking because she needs/wants for you to take something). Nor do you want your doctor or nurse to be negative (telling you there is no medal for a natural birth; giving you little hints and suggestions that you are not laboring right, and should accept intervention without a real medical reason, etc.), because this can likewise drain your energy. What you need is to be surrounded by cheerleaders — and by that, I don’t necessarily mean that you need to have your room filled with people, because actually most women do better with fewer attendants — but that the people who are with you will cheer you on.

Likewise, if you are asked to attend a birth, you need to make sure that you are positive and supportive of the woman — not because you are doing her work, but that you are supporting her in the work which only she can do. As I’m typing this, it is the last few seconds of the Anaheim-Detroit game, and the energy in the arena is so palpable that I (sitting here in my chair at my computer) can almost feel it — and I can only imagine what it must feel like to be there, as a fan, but especially as one of the players being helped and cheered on by the fans.

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4 Responses

  1. I would also suggest that the support person drop the camera or video camera. They should be in the moment. It is extremely frustrating to see the support person concentrating more on getting a good shot, then helping the women in labor. Another tip, turn the cell phone off! Oh, and the TV off. I have seen Dad’s watching the big game, instead of watching their child enter the world.

  2. Yes! One of my brothers-in-law is the poster child for “dads should not have to labor-sit” (but my brother was a “perfect labor partner” for his wife, according to the midwife who attended the loooong labor).

    Do you think that cameras in general are distracting, so they should not be used, or just that you can have a camera (or two), but the person in charge of them is not going to be a “true” support person because s/he has the primary focus or occupation of cameraman?

  3. I think the main support person should not hold the camera. I must say that the trend for hospitals is to not allow cameras while the mom is pushing or in the OR. We used to, but litigation has changed all that. I find it kinda sad. It might be something interesting to write about.

  4. Yes….there is a medal for natural birth…
    despite what any promoter of patented medicine tells us…
    The medal can be seen on the face of the women who has trusted herself and her innate instincts to best the birth of her child and not accept any undermining from the proponents of high tech birth. Her blossoming and fulfilling of natural gift to make and deliver miracles creates a smile that endures and sustains and best of all one that turns her into a ‘mother bear’. One who knows best and does best for her progeny because she has had the opportunity to fall in love with them in their most vulnerable and valuable time on earth: the first hour. The two become in total sync and symbiotically support and nurture each other to become a force to be reckoned with. The medals will be won together. There are a lot more than just one too.

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