Well of course it all depends on the dad and what type of temperament he has. And it is a comparatively modern trend. When my own children were born in the 1970s, there was no thought of my husband being there but a lot has changed and both my son and my son-in-law were only too happy to see their own babies being born.
A French obstetrician called Michel Odent has a very interesting point of view and is not too keen on fathers being in the delivery room, particularly if they are at all anxious, as he says this in turn makes the mother tense and slows her production of the hormone oxytocin.
He says: “Oxytocin is the love drug which helps the woman to give birth and bond with her baby. But it is also a shy hormone and it does not come out when she is surrounded by people and technology. The best environment I know for an easy birth is when there is nobody around the woman in labor apart from a silent, low-profile and experienced midwife
This doctor is worried that fathers are responsible for an increasing rate of births by C-section
However Patrick O’Brien, a consultant obstetrician, disagrees. He says: “There are many reasons why the number of emergency Caesarean sections has risen – none of which have anything to do with the presence of dads
Some women don’t want their men there but prefer their mother, their sister or a female friend to see them through labor'
In the past
But do we want to go back to that time when fathers were rarely present at the birth of their children? When they paced up and down the hospital corridor or in the case of a home birth, they provided the hot water for the midwife, and then went down to the pub to wet the baby’s head!
When dads go to the hospital
On a practical note, if dads are going to be at the birth, they also need to pack a bag for the hospital!
And here are some suggestions:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Change of clothes
- Some literature about the whole birthing process
- Camera, spare batteries and anything else you might need for recording the event
- Cell phone and phone list for passing on the latest news to friends and family
- Appropriate energy snacks and drinks
- Labor support tools such as oils for massage etc
- Music CDs and CD player, an iPod or MP3 player
- Pen, paper and a watch
- Books, magazines or newspapers for any free minutes (yes! It does happen)
- Medication and spectacles if you need either of these
- Loose change for vending machines and parking
You are probably quite surprised at how much you might need!
A birth can be a drawn out affair and it is best to be prepared
It is modern trend but an important rite of passage for any involved father to be at his child’s birth. It is social progress too. The less developed a country is, the more likely childbirth is seen as woman’s business only and hidden away behind closed doors. Our modern Western world has gone beyond that.
So dads-to-be, remember that the birth of a new baby can be joyful but also confronting and challenging for fathers. It can be helpful to prepare yourself physically and emotionally for this life-changing event.
If your wife or partner wants you to be there in the delivery room and you are happy to be there, then it is a win/win situation and the father would certainly be a help and not a hindrance.