Are men the best birthing partners?
When it comes to childbirth, mum comes first. Husbands, partners, grandparents, doctors and nurses are all in agreement on this point.
Putting mum’s wishes at the forefront of maternity care is one of the consistent, standout triumphs of the NHS.
In most scenarios, it’s dad-to-be who bears the brunt of this responsibility. He will perform lackey duties throughout pregnancy, during the birth itself and afterwards, when mum is coping with all sorts of new problems. We shouldn’t underestimate how good most dads are at rising to these challenges.
With our mum-centric culture of care in mind, this interesting case study about a woman who banned her husband from watching her give birth to their second child provides some food for thought.
In this particular case, it sounds like the absence of dad from the labour room worked out for both parties. Mum was spared the embarrassment of looking ”undignified” in front of hubby, while dad avoided all the stress and near freak-out scenarios that proved so troubling for him during the first birth.
But let’s not make the mistake of thinking every dad feels this way. In fact, I suspect it’s quite rare. If something terrible were to have happened, to either mum or baby, wouldn’t he have wanted to be there?
Maybe that’s a little unfair of me, but it’s a good way of getting to the crux of the matter.
If dad is going to be the main person around during mum’s recovery, and all the indignity that can accompany that, then surely it’s essential he’s at the birth?
Yes, of course mum’s wishes should come first. If she truly does believe her own mum is a better birthing partner than her husband, no-one should resist.
But it’s important we lay all the cards out on the table here, mums. Birth can be undignified, but there’s plenty of indignity after the birth too. And dad will struggle to avoid this
Stitches, bruised bits, bleeding, healing caesarean wounds and even breastfeeding: these are just some of the things dad will come face to face with.
Yes, birth can be a messy and unattractive affair. But recovering from the trauma with someone who was there is – I think – a really important part of the process.