Pregnancy brings with it much joy and excitement and then very quickly, feelings of being overwhelmed with all the choices that need to be made – together with the pressure of needing to make them immediately!
Finding a caregiver, place to birth, doula and booking a prenatal class are all important choices that do need to be made early on in the pregnancy.
WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT?
The most important question and conversation a couple must have is: what role does Dad want to have in the birth? Obviously there are discussions that must be had about parenting and different roles, given work plans etc. but the immediate conversation about Dad’s role during labour and birth is one that does not generally take place.
It’s not that long ago that it was an accepted fact that men did not enter the birthing room. When I did midwifery in the early 1970’s, there was the beginning of an awareness around ‘maybe’ men had a place in the birthing room, although we were a long way off appreciating men’s rights! In fact, men required written permission from their wife’s doctor to be present at the birth! Imagine! But I can assure you that was correct. Finally by the early eighties it was taken for granted that men would be in the birthing room AND provide ‘support’ for their partner during labour.
IS THE TIDE TURNING?
Fast forward to now and it is a ‘given’ that men will be at the birth. – no questions asked!
Is this a good thing? Is this right?
Of course, becoming a parent is the most amazing event in a woman and a man’s life. Many, many women want their partner to share every aspect of pregnancy and birthing but I wonder what would happen if we asked men what they want?
I have observed, more recently, that when men have the opportunity to open up (not in front of their partner) they express a very different view.
Case study: Tom (not his real name) said he definitely did not want to be in the birthing room. He did not want to see his wife in labour and felt that it was very much women’s business. He was looking forward to being a very involved Dad but not at the birth.
Case study: Daniel had sat through some private prenatal classes and was openly supportive of his partner. When she went to the bathroom he whispered he could NOT be in the birthing room and didn’t know how to tell her. Turns out he was very traumatised by a birth video shown to him in a private catholic boys school in yr. 8!
Case study: It’s not just men voicing their feelings but increasingly some women are adamant they do not want their partner in the birthing room. Talia wanted a doula – it was her 4th baby and her last. Her partner had not attended any of the births. She stated it was women’s business and there was no role for him. Interestingly he wanted to be there but she had the final say.
There are many, many more examples I could give.
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts especially if you are or about to be a Dad. I also want to hear from women. Have you had the discussion with your partner?
A DOULA MAKES A DIFFERENCE
One of the very important roles a doula has, is to facilitate such a discussion. It is important, for a couple, to acknowledge and respect each other’s views. Of course, opinions may well change throughout the pregnancy, with good education,
BUT LET’S GIVE MEN A VOICE!