In the past the delivery room was not a place for expectant fathers. In movies and television programmes they were portrayed as nervous wrecks pacing the hospital corridors, and prior to that the men were left at home, only to find out via a phone call that their bundle of joy had arrived.
Now, with 90% of dads in the UK deciding to be in the delivery room, it may automatically be assumed that you’ll be your spouse’s birthing partner. This isn’t always the case. Due to anxious, squeamish men, and women who feel more comfortable with a female birthing partner, you could both decide that it is better that your wife/partner has her mum or friend in the delivery room instead. This should be discussed between you both, allowing plenty of time to decide upon an alternative birthing partner if necessary.
Are Dads a Delivery Room Nightmare?
Undoubtedly some dads are a bit of a nightmare in the delivery room, but French obstetrician Michel Odent believes that all of them should be banned from the delivery room altogether. Odent claims that the presence of a male partner in the delivery room makes the woman feel anxious and hinders her production of the hormone oxytocin, which aids the labour process (BBC News, 2009). Apparently this makes her much more likely to need a caesarean section.
Mr Odent said
Oxytocin is the love drug which helps the woman 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.
This connection between dads in the delivery room and increased caesarean sections has never been proved. However, you may want to consider other ways in which you might hinder your wife’s birthing technique. For example, if you are very squeamish and prone to fainting or vomiting, it’s potentially not a good idea for you to be there for the birth. If you are an overly nervous or anxious person these feelings may rub off on your partner, causing her and the baby distress. Don’t be afraid to opt out of the labour process if your wife is also happy with the decision.
If you Want to be There
Ensure that you have attended at least two antenatal classes with your other half to prepare you for the birthing scenario. Be prepared for your wife or girlfriend to be exhausted, grumpy and perhaps a little scared and make sure you are able to reassure her and encourage her. Make sure you have water on hand for both of you, and that you’ve eaten something substantial to keep you going.
Consider staying by your partner’s side, as opposed to her feet, as you may get in the way during in the birthing process. Make sure your phone is switched off, as it should be in any hospital, as this helps to avoid distractions and lets your partner know that your focus is on her.