Why Men Shouldn't Be Allowed In Birth Room

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Birthing is a private affair. At least I believe so. When I say ‘private’, it means not even your partner is involved.

I find it baffling that men stay in the delivery room with their wives or partners at the time of birth, holding hands, and giving moral support. But just how much does it help the delivery progress?

Coming from an old school of thought about pregnancy, labor, and delivery, I bet there is a reason why men were advised to stay out of labor rooms in the bygone days. However, with more and more maternity pictures, birth photo shoots, and videos doing the rounds, it is becoming increasingly common to see men by their partner’s delivery table at the time of labor. It has become as common as men talking about a woman’s menstrual cycle, especially in societies where it was earlier regarded a taboo.

Refraining men from delivery rooms had always been the norm, and their presence was not much thinkable until the 1970s when more and more women began to ask their husbands to be with them. The trend began in the West, and it is catching up just about everywhere. Perhaps much of it can also allude to the growing number of nuclear families where women don’t know where to look for help. Couples also began to believe that it might help the father bond with their child just as it helps the mother.

While I believe that a man’s presence in the labor room is not necessary, I also think it’s really nice of him to hold his wife’s hand and give emotional support. I have heard a lot of women say that their man holding their hands made it easier for them to endure the pain. Sure, but what about the impact of watching a birthing episode on him? How about the myriad of emotions he might go through by watch birthing?

No wonder, there have been instances whereby men watching their partners/wives birth led them to either spend the night at a pub or go to play golf when their child was only a day old or the man simply left for his hometown! In a few cases witnessing childbirth has led to couples’ divorce as well.

Your partner’s presence might also be a hindrance, and it does little to help the labor progress well. It might not go down well with those mommies who think their partners support helped them ease the pain. They may not realize that labor must have only prolonged as the presence of the partner is likely to slow down oxytocin production in women, which is crucial for effective contractions. Since your husband might be stressed out too, he would produce adrenaline. It can be contagious enough for women to release more adrenaline than oxytocin, which could call for a C-section.

If I had my husband by the delivery table watching me, I would be bewildered at his expressions, at his helplessness to watch me in pain, at his fear to watch me in fear (even if he tried to conceal it, I would be able to figure it out). So instead of having a calm mind that would help me push, I would have my mind working at a greater speed thinking a thousand things, which does no good in easing the labor.

Ideally, a woman’s neocortex, which is the thinking part of the brain, must remain calm during labor and the unthinking parts must be stimulated to get the involuntary actions in place first.

Woman’s delivery does not stop with delivering the baby. She has to deliver her placenta too. If her husband is in the delivery room, he might be excited about the newbie’s arrival and might say or do a thing that would interfere with the placental delivery time. While her oxytocin level needs to rise to assist in the process, she would need all her time with the baby. She would need her own space around this time too. Not her husband whose anxieties might just get contagious and interfere with the whole thing.

Ladies, it’s not just you who go into postpartum depression. Men who have witnessed childbirth might undergo something similar. They might have bouts of depression, complain of stomach ache (as a sign of anxiety), and even develop psychological issues later in life. Some of them might never get back to their normal sex lives.

Perhaps you might want to go back to the times when men were at their best boiling pots of water and calling up your midwife or doula in the meanwhile while you were all set to deliver at home. Or simply coming to more recent times when men are at their best in the aisles of the hospital while you have the calm of yourself in the labor room. Yes, the screams will be there, but it works better sans your husband present right in there!

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