Cowart's Common Room
Fathers at the birth

A top obstetrician has given his views publicly that fathers should not be present at the birth of their children. (Got the story from a link on the link ZoŽ gave on Miss P's post a few down)

A lot of what he says makes sense, but I was there for all of ours, and the speed of each delivery increased from the first to the last, so I'm not sure if his reasoning is supportable, even if it's sensible.

Any views?

Posted at 16th Apr 2008 - 12:26PM   Posted by Jackofall   Fathers at the birth Comments: 35

Muddyboots's Avatar hubby was present at birth of our son, who incidentally was born at home - MIL made cups of tea for local GP, midwife plus uncle tom cobley and all.

Think they, GP et al, were discussing the difference between human, cow and pig gestation and parturition............

Posted by: Muddyboots on 16th Apr 2008 at 12:33PM

Ivy's Avatar My husband was present at our first child's birth and it was ok for both of us as it only took 1 1/2 hours. Baby no 2 was delivered by an emergency caesarean and he was not present which was ok as well as I was asleep anyway and he was waiting outside the op to see his daughter once she was born.
I do think that there is a pressure on parents for her to accept him in the delivery room and for him not to leave her alone. I made it very clear to my husband when I was about to give birth to child No 1 that I could fully understand if he left the room and that I didn't want him to feel he was chickening out but on the other hand I wouldn't be prepared to worry about what I said , did and how loud I screamed. I know many women who told me they had rather had a friend or their mother had been with them than their husbands and one friend told me that her husband refused to have an other child with her after he had seen her giving birth to their son.

Posted by: Ivy on 16th Apr 2008 at 12:58PM

Unpeuloufoque's Avatar My brother was there for birth of his first and phoned me afterwards to say if he had seen one of his gun dogs in such pain he would have done the humane thing and shot it... I think its fine either way but if partner is ot gong tobe there then at least soemone the mother trusts and who she feels safe with should be. Sadly the wise woman thing seems to have lost ground in "civillised" society,

Posted by: Unpeuloufoque on 16th Apr 2008 at 01:26PM

Westerwitch's Avatar Both ours were planned caesarean and HS was there for both of them sitting by my head. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

I think if the woman and her partner want the partner there then he/she should be there .

Posted by: Westerwitch on 16th Apr 2008 at 01:35PM

I havent heard this side of the story before. I t makes sense to me. We did the journey together for the first one, through the child birth classes and the endless labour. All very emotional stuff and listening to him sniffling away to himself afterward in his own personal little cot gave me quite a self satisfied glow. But the second time, too ho-hum perhaps, the sound of him channel surfing and playing with the equipment was intensly irritating!

Posted by: Bluebird on 16th Apr 2008 at 01:58PM

Milkmaid's Avatar I wouldn't have wanted anyone else except S to be there, two very long labours followed by C section and one elective C section. The thought of having my mother present makes me shiver

Posted by: Milkmaid on 16th Apr 2008 at 02:40PM

Inthemud's Avatar My hubby attempted to be present at first birth, but was useless, nurses sent him home to rest and come back nearer time of delivery. They callled him around 6.30am, he set off got caught behind herd of cows going for milking, arrived just as the head was coming out, he was so shocked he left the room again!
For my 2 subsequent births I had female friends as birth partners and hubby stayed at home with other children. Friends were superb! Best as far as i was concerned!!

Posted by: Inthemud on 16th Apr 2008 at 02:59PM

Jackofall's Avatar Having read the article, Milkmaid, I wonder if the labours would have been as long if he hadn't been there? If, subconsciously, your body's 'natural' urges to deliver were being stifled? Is there, perhaps, some primal instict, which is not controllable by the top-level mind, which baulks at the presence of the male at the time of parturition?

Posted by: Jackofall on 16th Apr 2008 at 03:00PM

Milla's Avatar My first was elective caesarean (placenta praevia top grade, no way out) and I was most miffed to see that 4 of My 18 Staff were rushed to aid E when he fainted - the surgeon hit an artery (I was on an epidural rather than unconscious which means the blood spurts more) and I lost several pints of blood and E looked over the curtain at the wrong moment and fainted. But I wanted him there to ensure that I got the right baby, and they wouldn't have let him in if I'd been unconscious. Rules, eh. This was during a time of babies being kidnapped from maternity wards and scare stories doing the rounds of mix ups. For the next baby, my labour was only 3 hour which given that it was effectively a first labour, was very quick, very frightening, very painful. Particularly with an offhand midwife (it was the middle of the night, everyone was tired and I suppose she assumed that because I was called Camilla and had had a caesarean before (albeit against what I wanted, caesareans are vile) that I must be Too Posh To Push and a whinger to boot (this is despite my refusing to swear in front of her, instead hooting "lordy" at each contraction, until she went out of the room when I let rip)). Reluctantly she examined me warning me that it would be hours yet, and I probably hadn't dilated at all, the unspoken being that I was fussing, and then she found that I was 9cm dilated, ya boo! Quite pleasing as I Told Her It Was Painful. What this is building up to is I would have HATED to be in her clutches alone, the baby is also the father's and of course he should be there - if both parents want it. A very personal thing for someone else to decide for you.

Posted by: Milla on 16th Apr 2008 at 03:18PM

Suffolkmum's Avatar R was present for both births - scary emergency c-section for no.1, and lovely easy natural birth for no. 2. I was so terrified during no.1 that I was immensley grateful to have him there. For the second - well actually I just remember being intensely irritated with him, even though the poor sod hadn't done anything wrong and was being very quiet and supportive. I didn't actually want anyone there, excpet for maybe some kindly experienced person hovering in the background. I very definitely felt the urge to retreat and go into my own head, in fact I pulled a sheet over my head and if there had been a handy cupboard to have crawled into I probably would have done so! Would have LOVED to have been at home but due to complications with no.1 I wasn't 'allowed'. In some ways I think I would have been less rritated/irritable if he hadn't been there, on the hand he found it profoundly moving and I must admit, in the little mean petty part of me, I am really glad he saw what we women go through!! I do think it's useful to have someone here on your side who can advocate for you if there are any complications. Everything went so smoothly for me with no.2 that his presence felt superfluous.

Posted by: Suffolkmum on 16th Apr 2008 at 03:27PM

Ivy's Avatar 18 staff ? no wonder the midwife thought you were to posh to push.
I had the anaesthesiologists two nurses a doctor and a doctor in training and the midwife was on my daughter's payroll really.

Posted by: Ivy on 16th Apr 2008 at 03:36PM

Unpeuloufoque's Avatar Good gracious I feel deprived had a midwife ( who was total stranger) me and him !

Posted by: Unpeuloufoque on 16th Apr 2008 at 03:47PM

Westerwitch's Avatar I think the point Milla made that 'A very personal thing for someone else to decide for you.' Sums it all up beautifully. Does it matter what anyone else thinks, or what anyone else feels is right be they a consultant, or a mother to be - it is down to individual choice at the end of the day.

Posted by: Westerwitch on 16th Apr 2008 at 03:47PM

Unpeuloufoque's Avatar Mind you I should have added mine were so quick I was damn lucky I had anyone there at all.

Posted by: Unpeuloufoque on 16th Apr 2008 at 03:48PM

The same midwife delivered first born as delivered The Farmer. Much guffawing and comparing bovine with human delivery. He did ask if we were going to need the calving ropes - oh the wit. He actually rubbed my back for hours, staring out of the window watching a farmer friend cutting his corn, lamenting the fact he was wasting a good combining day.
Two was the middle of the night and over and done with extremely routinely.
Three was a b****r and got stuck, while four appeared at the speed of light and nearly flew off the end of the bed.
All delivered in a local GP led unit that we battled long and hard to save - successfully I might add.
I would've hated D not be there, but agree it is a very personal choice.

Posted by: @themill on 16th Apr 2008 at 04:02PM

Ivy's Avatar But UPL you didn't have a caesarean did you? For baby no 1 I was lucky the midwife (a total stranger to me) came in the moment he was actually born she wouldn't believe me it was my first child. She wasn't believing me that he was actually coming out when she came to check 10 minutes earlier and didn't even bother to check how far I actually was.

Posted by: Ivy on 16th Apr 2008 at 04:05PM

Firstborn was a 'Precious Baby' so called and was induced. I had wanted husband to be there. He was given a time and turned up late and Rat-Ar&ed. I had him thrown out.

Daughter was born after an ambulance dash across country with my GP following us. I refused a wheel chair GP said it was lucky I was wearing trousers.

She was born in a small 9 bed unit just staffed by women and it was superb.

French for midwife is Sage Femme (wise woman) See the old ways do persist.

Posted by: Miss penelope on 16th Apr 2008 at 04:34PM

Preseli Mags's Avatar It was a good job Bri was with me when I had the second - he was driving the car! We nearly didn't make it to the hospital in time and I had Rosie in a cupboard in A&E.

I think the obstetrician is pssibly right in some cases, but not all. Bri didn't interfere or ask questions or get in the way and I don't think he'd have missed either birth for anything. If some couples can't cope, that's fine, but surely if someone wants to be at the birth, they should be allowed to. Has this obstetrician got a book to promote or something?

Posted by: Preseli Mags on 16th Apr 2008 at 04:35PM

Milkmaid's Avatar Thanks for your interest Jacko, but if any thing S helped more than hindered, don't forget he has delivered many calves and far more messily. I have a wonky cervix. S suggested I may need a C section 6 hours before the consultant did, primarily because he wouldn't have let a cow labour so long. S was also far more help when it came to advice on lactation

Posted by: Milkmaid on 16th Apr 2008 at 04:41PM

Crystal Jigsaw's Avatar Amy's dad was present for some of the time. My labour went on for 36 hours (12 of which I was hooked up and felt nothing on an epidural) but I'm sure he would have preferred to be at home with the telly on. He was a dead loss to be honest Laughing

CJ xx

Posted by: Crystal Jigsaw on 16th Apr 2008 at 04:49PM

Useful things, these farmers, MilkmaidLaughingLaughing

Posted by: @themill on 16th Apr 2008 at 04:49PM

Milkmaid's Avatar He very nearly came to blows with a midwife when she tried to tell us how to deal with mastitis, being a towny midwife she'd not come across a strange farming couple like us before. I used a very useful treatment called golden udder
Funny thing S never mentioned getting the calving ropes out, I don't think my humour was that good during labour

Posted by: Milkmaid on 16th Apr 2008 at 04:55PM

Inthemud's Avatar CJ,
Seems like we both have the useless ones!!

My hubby was hopeless with children until they could walk, then has been brilliant ever since!

Posted by: Inthemud on 16th Apr 2008 at 05:00PM

Milla's Avatar That's the NHS for you, 18 it was counted in and counted out, seemed to be 3 members of staff for everything, about 6 of them were in charge of Toby when he popped out (and didn't cry at all and I thought he was dead, aaaargh), otherwise it was anesthetists, and surgeons and sewers up and checkers of swabs and hand holders and CD changers and puck knows what. With Fins it was me and grumpy drawers and E - who I kept apologising to for having had to forego sleep (I ask you!) and that my screams punctuated his concentration (he was trying to read - at least I had insisted on his taking a book along!, I had brought one too, but for once in my life wasn't in the mood to read). One youth doctor did stumble in at one minute, ignored me and E and went straight to my bits. I told him off actually, and said that he should say hello first. He looked a bit surprised and puggered off quite quickly. Callow youth.

Posted by: Milla on 16th Apr 2008 at 05:38PM

Faith's Avatar I have Michel Odent's book 'Birth Reborn' 1984. Plenty of pics of father at the birth in that. Although he does say that while 'certain men have a beneficial presence, others may slow labour down'.

I arrived at the hospital only an hour before both my daughters were born. Both of my husbands were first time fathers and I feel, strongly, that I benefited by their presence. They both did really really well. I was, especially the first time, going into an unknown environment doing an unknown extreeeeeemely painful thing, with unknown people - my husbands were all I had to cling on to (I don't mean literally) AND the only person who really knew what I wanted. Despite having written a birth report or whatever it was called - a how I want the birth to go thing - for the second birth.

And having my mother there - Good God what a frightful idea!

Lucky I was too old to have a baby with Hub3. He wasn't at the birth of any of his children and says 'that's a woman's department'. As is, in his opinion, changing nappies and any other yucky stuff.

Posted by: Faith on 16th Apr 2008 at 05:53PM

Lily's Avatar Should be up to the couple concerned. I have a friend whose marriage failed- her husband told her the magic had gone out of the relationship after he was present at the birth of their daughter.
My medical husband was late for our first, resuscitating a gone wrong home delivery, turned up for the 2nd and declined the invite to scrub up and attend the 3rd -emergency caesar.
A work colleague had husband + in-laws present- not something I'd have wanted.

Posted by: Lily on 16th Apr 2008 at 06:38PM

Both my were born in theatre and I was very glad that the iGit was present both times.

Each to their own I think?

What does a bloke obstetrician know about labour anyway?

If men had the babies we would be extinct in a generation! Laughing

Posted by: ZoŽ on 16th Apr 2008 at 07:17PM

Cait's Avatar I haven't read what this man has written yet so can't possibly commentSmile

but M was present at both of our children's births. Great for me, great for him bonding wise and so he did not feel 'excluded' and nice for the babies too, (to know in later life).

I remember when I had an epidural (second time) during a very long backache labour, the anaesthetist said if men had babies they would ALL have epidurals!

Posted by: Cait on 16th Apr 2008 at 08:24PM

I have not had any children so hard to comment with authority here. But I always thought I'd prefer them not to there. It's a personal choice though, very much, and surely it depends upon how each couple feel and act with each other?

I find it a bit nanny state to have a doctor tell us what is best for us as we are so different.

Posted by: Crucifix on 16th Apr 2008 at 08:29PM

Patsy's Avatar Tried valiantly first time round to keep up the numbers delivered at @TM's wonderful GP-led unit but after driving myself there (husband at black tie do, opposite end of the country), got flashing blue light to main hospital. Big baby and elderly (38!) first time mum meant long labour and eventual epidural. Husband finally arrived, still in tux ... I'm impressed, but really no need to be so formal! Unfortunately I got rather cut about "down below" and rather wish he'd not seen that. The joy on his face as he held his first born though probably made up for it.
Second time around, second son fought his way out quickly in his characteristic stroppy way. All went much more according to plan. Husband mimicked Billy Connolly's cry of "Hot towels Betsy and keep 'em coming!" as the lady from the estate agency and I in ajoining beds puffed and pushed in unison. My vice-like grip on my husband's hand kept him well north of the action this time!
After it was all over, I lay back, secure in the knowledge that @TM would be round in a few hours with a couple of cans of Guinness to get my milk going..nothing better!
All my farming clients used to say they were much more considerate when calving cows after they saw what their wives went through. And I don't think I'd want a calving machine on me either but it was touch and go with the first...!
Patsy X

Posted by: Patsy on 17th Apr 2008 at 01:57AM

Camilla's Avatar All happened too fast for me, HL rang for ambulance on the dot of midnight halloween night, water had broke and I was flooding the bedroom probably with all the Guiness I had drunk for sheer passion of the stuff while expecting wee baby. Operator on phone said ambulance would take some time to get there, I was bundled into HL car, HL drove like maniac through red lights, contractions every 1 minute, began at midnight, the Maternity Ward was a very busy night, Doctors were rushing about all over the place. Doctor put my HL in white coat, pushed me on trolly through to delivery room, and said to my HL, just press the button on the wall.!

I wanted my HL to be there at birth, nooooo, he had fled when Doctor came into room, baby was born 3.45am.

Second baby - 11 months laterRolling Eyes HL was due to go to Wales to work, baby decided to come early on same morning, driven at high speed by HL to hospital, birth was just two hours, Nursey said, Oh it's you Mrs..... back again so soonRolling Eyes she said it was like shelling peas
Laughing HL did not want to be at the birth of second child either.


Posted by: Camilla on 17th Apr 2008 at 03:20AM

I had a District Nurse who tried to persuade me not the breast feed. She said that breast milk was bad for babies. At over 23stone what did she know about nutrition?

Posted by: Miss penelope on 17th Apr 2008 at 08:22AM

Milkmaid's Avatar Goodness that's obviously in the same era I was born, my Mother didn't breast feed, she wasn't encouraged, so here I am allergic to most things

Posted by: Milkmaid on 17th Apr 2008 at 10:38AM

Milla's Avatar eeek, Patsy, yes, that cut word. Am the proud bearer Confused of caesarean scar AND episiotomy scar. The latter for some reason not painful at all while the caesarean one still makes me feel sick. I think the fact that they "lost" Toby meant the incision mark got terribly tugged around and ragged and never really reknit together properly. The things we do, eh. My mother was discouraged from breast feeding - no allergies (bar hay fever and metal allergy). T11 refused - and still hates milk today (as do I) although I tried for over 2 months. F9 a greedy little slurper, blessikins. Can't understand why people don't breast feed, if they can - again, harder for elective caesareans since not going into labour means the right mechanisms aren't triggered, and I suppose I lost so much blood that was in recovery myself. SO much easier than pfaffing around with bottles.

Posted by: Milla on 17th Apr 2008 at 11:29AM

Mid 70s Highlands of Scotland mine were born, Milkmaid. District Nurse was a nightmare, she really didn't have a clue. I would drive a round trip of 60miles to avoid having to see her with the children. She thought I was the Devil's Spawn as a result.

Posted by: Miss penelope on 17th Apr 2008 at 02:36PM

Please login to comment

Sorry you must be logged in to post a comment