I stumbled on a really interesting perspective about fathers in the delivery room. It was from about a decade ago. One of the world’s leading childbirth doctors and the pioneer of water births, Dr. Michel Odent proclaimed that nervous fathers should not be in the delivery room. He asserted that in their anxiety to spare their partner pain, fathers acting as labor supports actually impede women’s deliveries. He says that birth is primal business and that anxious men, distressed at seeing their partners in pain, tend to try to talk to them and ask them rational questions about what is going on with the delivery. Dr. Odent said that when men do that it forces women to respond with the intellectual side of the brain and deters from the natural progression of labor.
In my previous birthing experiences this has been true. Though, it wasn’t just my first and current husband that kept asking me questions. It was random other people too. It seemed like everyone was asking me questions. With my daughter, I was aware enough and comfortable enough with my spouse to tell him to not talk to me and that if he did talk to me to not re-talk to me if I chose to ignore him.
I’m not suggesting that fathers be universally kicked out of the delivery room. That’s not the answer. I think that if a man can’t control his questions and his anxiety, the woman should feel safe to ask him to leave without fearing it will hurt his feelings though. Mostly though, I think this kind of thing should be brought up before the birth. Fathers need to know that asking questions, commenting on the time, or generalized panic is not welcomed at the delivery. I have enough faith in men that I think if they are told what to do, they will be able to use cognitive discipline to control their actions and their speech.
I’m quite certain if I had told my husband to just not talk to me unless I talked to him during labor he would have followed my instructions to the letter. I kind of think most men would. Now, if only we could get those doctors to shut it. Hmmm…. on second thought maybe just choose a midwife instead.
Guggie, of the very popular The Guggie Daily, told me, “My husband was not only supportive, but THE only supporting person at our family births. He not only helped out with little things such as filling the birth pool, but he was also right there, experiencing the birth of our children with me. He was not grossed out, stressed out or flaked out. He was present, involved and touched beyond measure to be able to “catch” his children as they arrived earth side. Wherever and with whom ever you birth, make it a family birth.”
What do you think? Did you have the father in the room? If so, how’d he do?