If you were to ask me “Hey Ivy, should my husband be my labor support?” I’d enthusiastically respond with a “Yes.”
I can tell you without a doubt having my husband in the delivery room for the birth of our children was the best thing for us. There were so many benefits, including constant support and building on to our relationship. When I talk to him about the subject, he’s always in agreement.
So, I’m floored why this obstetrician would say men should NEVER be at the birth of their child.
If you’ve ever asked yourself “should my husband be my labor support?” the aforementioned article may help convince you of the negative effects of his presence at the birth of your baby. But, I don’t think it’s completely accurate.
I’m always perturbed by the way the medical society propagates fears in individuals. This article is no less disturbing, in my mind.
Now, having read the article, I can potentially see where in some cases it may be best for the man to be absent during his child’s birth. The reality is that some individuals may not be cut out for the disgusting visuals in childbirth. As my husband suggested, not every person is capable of being awake for 24 -48 hours. Further, he reminded me that not all people are able to remain calm.
Okay, so I gained a better understanding of why some men wouldn’t be suitable as labor support.
Still, NEVER is so absolute.
Is it really too much for my husband to be my labor support?
In the article, Michel Odent states “… there is little good to come for either sex from having a man at the birth of a child.”
From my experience having two successful natural births with my husband as my primary and only support, as it were for the second birth, this couldn’t be further from the truth. So much good came from having my husband support and coach me through the process. He was my rock when I was weakest. Because he knew how much a natural birth meant to me, he learned everything I needed him to know so that he could speak for me when I was unable. I was able to rely on him as though my life were on the line. This strengthened our bond!
He goes on to state that a woman should be left alone to labor peacefully without her partner.
I can see some benefit to it. Often, I found myself completely tuning everything out to get through the contractions. However, having chosen a hospital birth, it was imperative I had someone on my side to prevent unnecessary interventions. Without my husband by my side, who knows how my birth plan would have gone. If I had chosen a home birth, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt the need to have his constant support.
Still, I enjoyed his presence. His reminders to breathe through contractions instead of tense up and fight against them got me through much of my labor more easily. Those simple reminders immediately relieved pain, and I realize now how much more pain I experienced when I was fighting nature. Breathing through the contractions and rocking, swaying, or any other instinctual movement eased the discomfort immediately.
Odent believes the presence of the father increases duration and difficulty of labors.
He states that a man’s natural reaction to watching his partner labor painfully is tension and a release of adrenaline. This negative energy is transferred to the laboring woman, which has ill effects on her ability to labor peacefully.
I completely understand the thought process. However, a good childbirth class will convey the message that labor and delivery are not an event in which we must rush or become anxious over. Staying calm and in control is in everyone’s best interest. Thankfully, my husband took this to heart.
From my experience in my first childbirth, having arrived at the hospital stalled my labor. I was progressing well until we reached the hospital, then my contractions stayed at the same intensity and timing intervals for HOURS. I feared giving birth in a hospital as I worried about the increased chances of medical interventions.
The moment I relaxed after my water broke, was the moment I had my baby. The warm gush was enough to relax every muscle and it was time to push.
Maybe if your man is causing tension or creating fear, perhaps he could be to blame. But a man who has attended a good childbirth class should know that childbirth isn’t generally an urgent event.
So, it begs the questions: Are we not providing men enough support and education for being a calm and attentive labor support person? Are we not giving them enough information?
Understandably … men who have not been well-prepared and don’t know what to expect may not be suitable in a birth support situation.
Why I believe (some) men should be at the birth of their child
I would like to say I believe it’s feasible a man knows whether or not he’s incapable of watching a birth. Perhaps there are some good reasons a man shouldn’t be expected to hang out with you in L&D. But, NEVER is too strong a word. Take these factors into consideration when deciding if your husband should be your labor support, or in the delivery room as your birth your child.
Will he go to and pay attention in a childbirth class?
If your husband or partner has attended childbirth education classes with you, he should come away knowing what to expect in labor and delivery. He should know your hopes and goals and should be able to speak for you when you’re unable.
Of course, hopefully, he paid attention to the details. Did he remember the bits about natural pain relief methods, breathing, and what’s normal (baby’s heart rate during and after contractions)?
Can he remain cool, calm, and collected?
Does he remember that childbirth is a natural physiological occurrence? Going into labor is no reason to rush or become anxious. If he grasps the concept that this pain is productive and nothing to worry about, he can be an effective support person.
Though my husband isn’t a cuddler, and rarely rubs my back, he proved to be the most supportive person I could have imagined. Perhaps it’s more his “being useful” personality that made him an awesome labor support person. During labor, he was tuned in and attentive to my needs.
Will he help me with the pain & not be upset if I bark orders?
He was great at following
directions orders when I needed him to provide counter-pressure on my back during contractions. If I barked my orders or got snippy, I didn’t later have to worry about whether or not I may have hurt his feelings. He’s not sensitive that way, thank goodness.
If he can help you succeed through this birth, you’ll both benefit from a stronger bond
This can be a highly emotional time for you both. There IS the benefit that you both will share the most intimate bond together. I mean, he’s going to watch some really nasty stuff, but helping you through it successfully will likely build a stronger relationship.
If your partner can keep you as calm, relaxed, and comfortable as possible to help you succeed through your natural birth plan, he’s going to garner much more respect from you.
After he sees you through it, he’s going to think really highly of you too. He’ll see a strength in you that he doesn’t understand and he’ll never see that kind of strength in any other scenario. You will seem like a superhuman.
Should my husband be my labor support?
Ultimately, the two of you will need to decide if it’s right for you. I can only tell you, from my experience, that it was absolutely the best decision. In my case, my husband was my strength. He was able to make sense of the details (like baby’s heart rate during and after contractions) and help remind me to breathe through contractions instead of fighting them.
I can only tell you, from my experience, it was absolutely the best decision to have my husband be my labor support. In my case, he was my strength. He was able to make sense of the details (like baby’s heart rate during and after contractions) and help remind me to breathe through contractions instead of fighting them.
My husband was good labor support because he reminded me that the pain or discomfort was a means to an end.
By helping me through labor, we’ve benefited from a greater bond. And, because we were both worked together and toward the same outcome, there’s never a moment of doubt or regret.
But, I feel as though both parties need to be 100% dedicated to educating themselves and deciding together what’s right in their birthing scenarios. You have to work as a team!