While link jumping around the internet tonight, I landed on a 2008 article by a popular obstetrician named Michael Odent about his take on men in the delivery room. His two cents: They shouldn’t be there. His single valid point was that some men can be nervous during the experience and project that onto the mother, but in my opinion, the rest of his “reasoning” was absolute garbage (with my biggest eye roll going to his statement that men should stay out as it causes some of them to leave their wives after witnessing the act of birth).
But it did get me thinking about the role of fathers during birth. It’s a given that not every man is going to be comfortable in that situation – his partner in pain, the anticipation and nervousness of a new baby on the horizon – it can be a nerve wracking experience for many men, especially if they didn’t participate in any birth education with his partner beforehand. My knowledge of how men act in the delivery room is limited to my experience with my husband and what I see on birth shows on tv. It certainly can run the gamut from hands off in the corner to right there catching the baby as its born.
My husband was an essential part of both of my deliveries but he took an interest in the birth process from the very beginning. He read books, watched videos and went to most of midwife appointments. I think that a father’s role in childbirth is a very individual experience – what one man is comfortable with could make another uncomfortable. Even in reflecting on the birth’s of both my children, I feel like my husband was much more calm and focused with our second. He’d been through it once, knew what to expect and what I expected of him.
I’d love to hear other perspectives on this subject. Was your husband/partner active or passive during the birth of your child or children? Did his presence bring you peace or make you nervous? For those of you with multiple children, was he more relaxed the second/third/fourth time around? Do you feel that pre-natal participation in classes or doctor’s appointments lessened his anxiety or encouraged his engagement?
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