Giving birth is a sacred and beautiful experience. And we often find men sharing the experience by witnessing the birth of their child. But should men be allowed to stay for the birth of the child? Will it make childbirth a peaceful experience, or induce stress to the mother and father?
Top obstetrician and childbirth specialist, Michel Odent explains why men shouldn’t be at the delivery room. Having 50 years of experience in childbirth and carrying out 15,000 births, he states that nothing good is going to come out of having a man witness childbirth (1). He says, neither a man or a woman is going to benefit from letting a man into the labor room. For the mother, the presence of a man is going to cause obstruction, making the labor longer and more painful. As for the father, watching their partner deliver the baby can lead to postnatal depression.
A Little Trivia
During the 1970s, some women started asking for their partners to be at the room with them, which was later followed suit by many western countries. Women wanted men with them as childbirth was rapidly shifting to hospitals instead of home, where they once had the support and comfort of their mother or aunt.
Into the mid-’70s, all women preferred having their husbands by their side. By the late 1970s, the husband was completely involved in the process of childbirth every step of the way, holding their wives hand. It was considered as a strong bonding experience for the couple, as well as for the father and child. It was said that having the father by their side would make way for easy delivery. However, there wasn’t much scientific study done to prove these claims (2).
Is Having A Father At The Childbirth Really Helpful?
Having had hands-on experience at homes and hospitals alike, Michel Odent is convinced that having the father’s presence during childbirth can lead to prolonged and hard labor (3). His claims are based on a number of physiological reasons.
The first one being, women need to be shielded from any stimulation of the thinking part of the brain, neocortex, for easy labor. The constant talking and motivating of the mother by their partner can only act as an obstruction and further delay the labor (4).
Secondly, seeing the mother in a stressful situation can stress out the father. It causes him to release adrenaline to combat the stress. Adrenaline is contagious. Soon, the mother won’t be able to relax and will start getting tense. If the mother is not as relaxed as she needs to be, she will have a long labor (5).
Soon after childbirth, the mother needs some alone time with the baby, and it is not just for bonding. Once the mother is in close contact with the baby without any distractions, there will be a release of oxytocin, which is the hormone of love, that will help in the easy delivery of the placenta (6).
What About The Father?
Seeing a woman give birth is a wonderful experience, but it can also be an emotional turmoil for men. Post-natal depression is becoming increasingly common among men who have seen childbirth (7). While some men are perfectly fine after childbirth, there are men who have a hard time coping with reality. There have been cases where a perfectly healthy man had an episode of schizophrenia just days after witnessing his wife give birth.
Of course, women cannot go through the process of labor alone, and it is always better to have someone by your side while giving birth. You can go for a midwife, your mother, or your aunt. But having your husband or partner is probably not the best idea. What are your thoughts about the same? Do share in the comments section below.