Birth: does it matter if the father’s not there?

Birth: does it matter if the father’s not there?

A father’s place

Previous generations regarded the delivery room as a man-free zone (bar medics in white coats). Dads would hover outside, only venturing in once the messy business of birth was over. In recent years, attitudes have changed, and nowadays, most women have their partner there… but does it matter if he isn’t?

Respect his feelings

Woman in labor with husbandSome men find the idea of not seeing their baby being born inconceivable. Others would prefer to avoid the delivery room until the hard labour’s history.

If your partner’s not keen, why not ask your mum or best friend instead: research shows that mothers who have female birth partners are less likely to need pain relief, medical intervention or a caesarean.

You could compromise by agreeing that someone else will support you during labour, but he’ll come in at the last minute. And make sure he remains nearby in case one of you changes your mind.

Be honest with yourself

Your life partner might not be the best choice of birth attendant if you’re likely to feel self-conscious about losing your dignity (many women dread losing control of their bowels during childbirth) or screaming blue murder in front of him.

Men may…

  1. Fear that their future sex life will be forever tainted by images of blood, gore and worse… Suggest that he positions himself at your head end and averts his eyes from anything unsightly.
  2. Worry that they won’t be able to help when you’re in agony? Not true: he can hold your hand – which you will crush during the really painful bits. Attending antenatal classes with you will clarify what else he can do on the day.
  3. Feel guilty that they are the cause of your pain? (See 2, above.)

Explain why he’ll benefit from being there

  • He can be your advocate, helping you to stick to your birth plan.
  • Cutting the cord is great material for wetting the baby’s head down the pub.
  • Many couples find that experiencing childbirth together brings them closer.
  • Research shows that newborn mammals need skin-to-skin contact (it boosts their sense of security). If you need postnatal medical attention, your partner can ensure your baby receives this crucial comfort.
  • Cuddling straightaway will help him bond with his baby.
  • He’ll be able to help you ‘debrief’ afterwards.
  • He might regret it if he passes up this opportunity.

Now tell us what worked for you…

Did your partner stay or go? Share your story


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