In the bygone days, men were asked to stay out of the labor/delivery room, however, with the conventional birth photo shoots and videos doing the rounds, men are so much more involved in the childbirth process in recent years. More than ever! But how much should a man be involved in this process?
Many midwives and obstetricians (privately) consider the involvement of a man in the labor room to be unnecessary and, quiet frankly, a hindrance. The presence of a male partner during the childbirth birth has more downsides than benefits.
Women have been asking for their partner to be at their side during labor and birth for a couple of decades now and the trend that was started in the U.S.A. is now gaining popularity across the world.
Listed below are the top reasons why expectant mothers choose to have their partners around during the birth of their child:
- It is believed, that having such an experience will strengthen the bond between father and child.
- People claim that the reassurance the male partner provides the mother with; can make for an easier
birth, reducing the need for medical interventions.
- Mothers express the importance of their partners being their pillar of strength during a stressful time.
However, little scientific studies were conducted to find out if there was any truth to these claims. Most healthcare providers as well, have confirmed from experience that the presence of a male partner doesn’t always result in a positive birth experience.
- The neocortex (thinking part of the brain) needs to take a back-seat and let the “primal” part of the woman’s brain, that is connected to basic vital functions, take over during labor. The woman in labor needs a private world where she doesn’t have to think, but with her partner in the room, she will observe and have a thousand thoughts pacing back and forth about what the experience is like for him, how helpless his expression is, if he can handle what’s to come and so on.
- No matter how hard the man tries to conceal his fear and anxiety, the release of his adrenaline is contagious. It has been proven that it is physically impossible to be in a complete state of relaxation if there is an individual standing next to you who is tense and full of adrenaline. With a man around, a woman cannot be as relaxed as she needs to be during labor, and as a result of this- the process becomes longer, more difficult and inevitably, more painful.
- Oxytocin, the key hormone in childbirth, cannot be released when they are influenced by hormones of the adrenaline family. In order to deliver the placenta with ease, oxytocin levels need to peak. This can happen when the mother has a moment in which her baby is placed on her skin, she looks into the eyes of her little one and shuts out the rest of the world. This wouldn’t be possible with the peering eyes of her partner who can’t help but be emotionally unstable at the sight of the mother and his child. The interference, is more often than not, the main cause of difficulty in delivering the placenta.
It’s entirely the choice of the couple and what the mother has intended to be executed in her birth plan, but it is also important to know what is beneficial for a stress free and ideal child-birth. It’s not just the fact that the presence of a man can slow down the labor and delivery process, but also the question of how many men can actually cope with the overflowing emotions and visuals?
There are reported cases of men suffering from their own form of postpartum depression, not being able to get back to their normal sex lives, and in some drastic cases- fleeing the country or having issues leading up to a divorce! Of course, this is not the case of all men, but there obvious exceptions.
Women shouldn’t have to give birth alone, which is where an experienced doula or midwife would come in. The key to a perfect birthing partner is a mother-figure, one who can provide emotional support, keep a low profile and remain silent.