A few centuries ago, this question would have been deemed irrelevant or even stupid by some circles. This was especially so in Africa, it was unheard of. Our African traditions prohibited the spouse to be present during the childbirth process. Everyone knew that childbirth was “women business”. The father-to-be was expected to patiently wait outside for the outcome of the process.
However the 21st century has seen radical changes in the concept and behaviors surrounding the childbirth process. These changes have been brought about by women empowerment which has bred a new generation of women who feel the need to be assisted by the dad-to-be- in the delivery process.
Men are now allowed to be in even the most convectional delivery rooms and actually participate in the process. Dads in delivery rooms is a common sight these days. Some expectant parents even go over the stages of labor together. Research shows that 2 out of 5 women have their spouses present during childbirth.
We all know the childbirth process can be an unnerving experience. Forget about the TV births where the dad bursts into the delivery room at the very last minute, perspiration on his face, sleeves rolled up, tie askew, to hold the hand of the mother to be as she gracefully brings a 10kg beautiful smiling baby into the world.
Life is not a Disney movie series. The reality on the ground is quite different from what is portrayed on TV. New borns are brought into this world in all manner of circumstances. Many men are not sure what to expect when they step into the delivery room. Some keep a low profile; others tend to act like observers or guides while others act like protectors. Some however are more feeble hearted and just pass out.
“I was so exhausted after my wife gave birth! OMG! There was so much blood, screaming and groaning! Watching the person you love be in that much pain and knowing it’s partly your fault, it sucks,” laments a new father.
There have been heightened efforts by both the public and private sector to promote male involvement in health reproductive issues such as the childbirth process. However Parents-to-be have different opinions when it comes to being present during childbirth.
Some women cannot even bare to imagine going the process with their husbands present while some men would rather fake a business trip to avoid being present. This begs the question, is it really necessary for the men to be present during childbirth?
Many women are not excited by that prospect and prefer having their husband absent during the whole process. Their opinions are shyly inclined because they fear that their spouse witnessing the process would consequently affect their attraction to them. Rather than risk their men being sexually uninterested in them after birth they would rather have them focus on looking for money to feed the family instead.
Besides being squeamish of the process, Many men would prefer to avoid childbirth because of the double language expressed by their expectant spouses. There is a frequent conflict between the verbal language and body language expressed by pregnant women.
The modern woman is adamant to admit they need their spouses during the process using words. They act all cool and confident telling the spouse “No big deal, I can handle it, every woman does this” But on the day of birth, the same women can express the opposite in a nonverbal way. The hapless dad-to-be gets torn between being present or absent.
Some midwives also don’t think it’s necessary to have men present during childbirth. They say some of the spouses present during the process release high levels of adrenaline which is very contagious. The laboring mother is required to reduce all the activity of her mind, “go into a peaceful relaxed place” but the panicking spouse only increases her anxiety.
What experts say
Many obstetricians/ gynecologists think having a father present during childbirth is very necessary. They say that men are key partners in the uptake of reproductive health services such family planning, antenatal care, childbirth ,post natal care, preventing STIs as well as screening and treatment of reproductive health cancers such as cervical and breast.
This process provides men with a unique opportunity to learn about facts about the childbirth process. They get a firsthand experience of the process which helps them shun the various misconceptions spread around. And besides knowing and understanding the process could come in handy in case of an emergency.
Many marriage counselors seem to think it’s necessary for a couple’s health. They encourage men to participate in the process because it provides a unique bonding experience for them. It provides a special moment of intimacy of bringing a human being into the world. The intimacy helps bring a child into a happy and supportive home.
Was your spouse present when you were giving birth? Please Let us know how that felt and what it meant for you.