Post # 1
Bees, I have a dilemma. I am currently 31 weeks’ pregnant and need to have a c-section for medical reasons. I’ve had major surgery and surgery whilst awake before, so am not remotely scared about it.
My husband, however, has been blessed with good health and (I think partly because he has so little experience of having to have medical treatment) is both hospital-phobic and needle-phobic. He felt a little nausea when the doctor was just explaining how they do the spinal block and has had to sit behind a curtain when I have had a normal injection before!
I am so worried that he isn’t going to be able to handle being in the operating theatre during the c-section. He is 6ft2 and a big-framed guy so, if he passes out, he is going to drop like a stone. I am also worried he may have a panic attack (he has had a couple in the past and is on anxiety meds) as he has already expressed a couple of times that he is worried about complications arising during the op/me possibly dying.
What can I do to help make this easier on him? I’m not worried at all about me needing him as a source of support during the operation (I’m not squeamish and am an old hand at medical procedures). I am worried about him missing the birth of his child as he’s panicked/passed out, and him beating himself up about that and not being a better source of support for me (not that I need it).
From bees who have had a c-section, are there any practical tips to help minimise how much he has to see? I was thinking maybe asking that he doesn’t come into the anaesthetic room, as the needle-in-spine thing seems to be a big issue for him? And that they only bring him in to the operating theatre once the sheet is up etc? Do you think we should pre-warn the theatre staff that he is squeamish too?
Please don’t say he just needs to man up. This is a legit phobia for him and he has come to all of my scans despite the hospital freaking him out. Ordinarily I would talk to him about this, but we’ve had a couple of minor fights where it is apparent the root is that he is worried I think he is going to be a bad birth partner. It really would not help if he knew I AM concerned!!!
Post # 2
- Wedding: January 2021 - City, State
To be honest, it might be best if he doesn’t come in and if he’s that anxious it will possibly be what the medical staff recommend too.
him being anxious and you knowing it will directly affect you whether you realise it or not, the aim here is to have a healthy baby and a safe delivery. Him not being there is most likely the best choice, it’s something you should discuss I’d say
Post # 3
In the UK they keep the men out until the anaesthetic has been administered and only bring them in once the drape is up. If this is the case he shouldn’t see much but he will see the drip in your hand and stuff like that. My partner wasn’t needle phobic per se however I lost a lot of blood in my section and they struggled for a few moments to get it under control. This meant that he seen a pool and seen the commotion. It has totally terrified him for the next one which I am having in 4 weeks. I work in healthcare so it’s not a big deal to me but he is panicky about seeing that again. If your husband is obliging I bet a few counselling or hypnotherapy would help him with this phobia a lot. If not you can just let the medical team know he may need to be kept away from this stuff and if he feels unwell to speak up and let someone lead him from the room. If he concentrates on just looking at your face hopefully it will all be fine. He shouldn’t see too much unless he goes looking around for it. Best of luck. I hope it is smooth for us both and our partners.
Post # 4
splishsplash : I didn’t have a C section or epidural, but my friends who have tell me that their husbands weren’t allowed in the room while the spinal was being placed. Does you husband have a prescription for an anti-anxiety med that he could take prior to the birth? I would ask the hospital to have him in an armchair by your head (1) so that he can’t see anything and (2) so that if he does faint at least he won’t fall.
Post # 5
- Wedding: June 2017 - A vineyard
My husband and I are both huge needle phobes. I have to lie down on a table just to get simple bloodwork done because it’s fairly likely I will faint. My husband stays outside any time I do anything with needles. So that’s what I would do. Have a couple nurses help you with the spinal block instead of him and not allow him in until the drape is up during the c section. And tell him do not look over it for anything.
And quick edit. As to men being allowed in or not that may vary by hospital. My husband was allowed in for the epidural placement and the c section stuff. I just barely avoided needing one. They had me and my husband in the OR and decided to try forceps as a last ditch effort to avoid the emergency c section they were certain I was going to have to have.
Post # 6
When I had my epidural, my husband wasn’t allowed in the room by the doctor’s rule. I would agree with PP about getting an anxiety medication for him to take prior to the procedure.
Post # 7
- Wedding: February 2018 - UK
I’ve never had a c-section, but I do have first hand experience of a crippling phobia getting in the way of life. You’re totally right about him not being able to “man up”, I know when I’ve been in the middle of a panic attack I’ve got absolutely no focus on anything except the fight or flight reaction.
Would he be open to CBT? It’s the only thing I’ve tried which actually helped me. It’s very effective if you put the work in.
It takes a while to become effective, so I realise it may not be improved a huge amount by the time you have your baby, it may be something to think about for the future though, if it’s really affecting his day to day life.
Post # 8
I had a scheduled c-section in November and think this is probably a non-issue.
My husband was not permitted in the OR until after my spinal had been administered and the surgery was ready to begin. He stayed on the other side of the drape and did not see the surgery taking place. If this is not the default policy at your hospital I would think you could request the accommodation.
Post # 9
I’ve no experience of this so it’s just a suggestion if possible – can he stay out of the room until after anaesthetic and the drape is up, and give him a chair beside your head? Sitting down may help prevent passing out entirely.
I used to be horrifically needle phobic (I couldn’t talk about needles) and I had hypnotherapy which worked wonders, but your timescales are a bit too tight for that go be a solution.
Post # 10
With my c-section (emergency, not scheduled), my husband wasn’t allowed in the room while I got my epidural. The sheet was also up well before they started any of the surgery. However, he did mention to me later that even with the sheet up, he definitely saw some stuff.
Honestly, I agree with the first poster. Maybe it’s best that he isn’t in the delivery room? There is a lot going on and adding a super anxious person to the mix that may, in all reality, pass out doesn’t seem like the best idea. The doctors and nurses have a lot to focus on just with you and your baby.
Post # 11
splishsplash : does he sometimes take medication for anxiety? Perhaps he could speak with his Dr about that?
Or you can have an agreement that he tries his best to be there but if he can’t handle is and needs to leave you understand. Would it be helpful for him to have a support system there, such as his own mother or something? If you’re comfortable with that then that could be an option too.
At the end of the day, it seems you acknowledge his phobia as a legit mental illness that is not his fault so whatever ends up happening at least you’re not in a position where you feel unsupported by him if he can’t be there. As long as he does his best.
Post # 12
Fellow needle-phobia sufferer here. Even the sight of an IV (already taped down) makes me woozy. I’ve had several panic attacks over the years due to needles and I almost fainted when my husband got a shot. I agree with PP’s suggestions that your husband only enter the OR after the epidural. Maybe have a another family member or close friend in the waiting room in case hubby has a panic attack and needs to step out? That way he won’t be alone, panicking, worrying about you and the baby, and beating himself up for not being there for you. Also, could you talk to one of the nurses and ask her to quietly keep an eye on him during the procedure? I think talking it through with him and having a few options available would help.
Post # 13
I had an emerg c sec with spinal. They asked my ex husb if he would come when were being rushed to sugrey (needle n blood phobic). He said no!
I told him it wasn’t an option. I made him come.
They draped the area he couldn’t see it. However blood on the floor made him queasy . But w as the same with vaginally delivery. It happens.
He survived lol. Yours will too . It’s pretty common, the nurses are prepared for fainters.
Post # 14
When I had my c-section my ex was not allowed in the room until after everything was set and they were about to take my son out. From what he told me afterwards, he couldn’t really see anything (and avoided looking lol). If you explain to the staff beforehand, they will definitely help accomodate. Maybe he could sit on a chair by your head, in case he starts to feel woozy? There’s usually a nurse who is able to sit by you as well, so maybe she could focus on him and making sure he’s okay also.
Post # 15
Oh and my ex could not be in the room when I had the epidural placed w baby (which took them a looong time), . Or spinal block w baby 2. He cold not watch shots or me giving blood