It may seem hard to believe, but men, including husbands and doctors, were once unwanted or even considered as an intruder in delivery room. Before 1960’s, it was very rare for husbands to watch the delivery process directly. Things have changed significantly, however, right now, almost all husbands participate in the delivery process. According to current social convention, husbands should be at their wives side, to support them in the difficult, laborious and painful delivery process. In all likelihood, wives will feel better when it is the husbands who coach them throughout the way. However, despite what people may think, husbands still have a choice. Men have emotions too, they may have doubt, fears, concerns, reluctance and other ambivalent feelings about being next to their wives in the delivery room. It is important for couples to talk about this issue and husbands should articulate about how they feel, especially related to the prospect of being with their wives throughout the process.
Why Should I?
It is natural for wives to want their husbands with them to give support and assurance in the delivery room. If your wife wants you to accompany her, there is only one single reason: She loves you and for her, you are the one who can give both emotional and physical supports she needs. Your support, love and encouragement can make a huge difference. Wives want to share the pleasure of seeing the arrival of your child. This is a moment of exquisite closeness between the three of you that won’t ever be repeated. Couple can also feel a renewed intimacy toward one another. The first few minutes of your baby’s life are a perfect moment to start a bond. Husbands will feel intense relief, joy and excitement; that won’t be felt similarly if they see the baby for the first time in the nursery room. Many husbands today are preparing themselves to acts as their wives’ labor coaches. They do it not only for their wives, but also to get emotional or even spiritual satisfaction. In fact, many husbands reported that they feel the awe at how life is created and an intense high.
Why Shouldn’t I?
Nonetheless, some expectant fathers who choose to skip the opportunity of participating in the delivery process, often have some good reasons for that. Even, fathers who have make promise to take part, may feel a good deal of concerns and fears that they reluctant to voice. These are a few reasons why some fathers don’t want to be present in the delivery room:
• Queasiness: Some expectant fathers often become squeamish when they enter the maternity ward and expect to see blood. They may have unreasonable concerns, like being fainted and cause unexpected trouble during the already chaotic times. However, after the delivery process is completed, they feel a powerful soothing feeling and relief, that they have no time to think about queasiness. Husbands who coach their wives through labor and delivery; are often too fascinated, too excited and too busy to faint or feel nauseous.
• Witnessing pain: It is natural if you can’t bear the sight of your wife during his painful labor. The process is often traumatic for both mother and child. In fact, for husbands, childbirth can be traumatic to witness. However, husbands who have rehearsed well to coach their wives, will understand that pain is an inescapable part of process. Because pain can’t be avoided, husbands should make an effort to make the discomfort more bearable for their wives. Again, good training and practice in childbirth class can effectively overcome both lack of confidence and ignorance.
• Fear of being interfering or useless: Husbands often feel uncertain about their role in the delivery process. They may have concern that far from being helpful, they’ll only make everything worse. The anxiety can be quite powerful if they are also preoccupied with risk of complication, birth defect or the death of baby or wife. Again, by attending the childbirth class, husbands can get a clarification about their essential role in a successful delivery. Husbands will also know that complications or even death are extremely rare (in most developed countries), while birth defects can often be detected months before the delivery through common examination instruments. Finally, rest assured, even when a complication does arise, health professionals are experienced enough and know what to do; and as long as you’re being cooperative, you won’t get in the way.
• Religious reasons: You may adhere to a religious belief that considers the delivery process as impure or unclean, and the process should be confined for women only. According to these beliefs, both the baby and child require purification and cleansing after childbirth. Some African beliefs, Hindus and Orthodox Jews uphold a taboo on this matter. If your religious belief forbids you from participating in this process, no one should persuade you from doing otherwise. It is inappropriate for others to argue about your religion beliefs.
• Discomfort with role reversal: Husbands who coach their wives during the delivery process can sometimes be considered undergoing a reversal in gender roles. In childbirth, women demonstrate a good deal of fortitude, grit, strength, competence and courage. By contrast, husbands must provide comfort, encouragement, soothing words and emotional supports. In short, women can be comparable to quarterbacks, while the men serve as the cheerleaders. Couples with very traditional relationships, may feel uncomfortable with the role reversal. Childbirth class can help to loosen any entrenched feeling, which allow you to help in making things easier for your wife. In many cases, switching roles temporarily can help to improve marital relationship. Women who are coached through the difficult process often appreciate their husbands’ compassion, understanding and tenderness, while men will develop a new-found respect for their spouses’ courage and determination.
Making the Decision
Regardless of how you feel about a participation in the delivery process, a good communication is necessary before making a decision. If everyone can accept the extent of you involvement, things will be easier. However, if you insist on waiting outside the maternity ward, you should help your wife in finding someone who can replace you. No matter what others might say, if you believe that accompanying your wife in the delivery process is not for you, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for it. Besides, your primary duty as both husband and father is to be present with your family for decades to come.