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father's prescence and failure to progress?

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
Just came across this comment by Michel Odent while reading the mothering.com's Q&A section:

Quote:
When you are in hard labor, remember that the length of labor is usually proportional to the number of people around. Avoid the presence of anybody who might release adrenaline. The best situation I know for an easy birth is when there is nobody else around than an experienced, motherly and silent midwife who does not behave like a guide or an observer. The most common cause for a long and difficult labor is the presence of the baby's father. I know that what I say is not politically correct. However, at a time when there is an epidemic of 'failures to progress', it is becoming acceptable to smash the limits of political correctness.
(emphasis added)

BTDT mamas, anyone have thoughts on this?

Source: http://www.mothering.com/sections/ex...ive.html#fluid
post #2 of 66
I read his book Birth and Breastfeeding, and he mentioned this in a different way -- if I remember correctly, he said it's awkward for most women to push like they're taking a dump in front of their husbands, and possibly take a dump in the process (my tacky verbage, of course). He also said he knew, of course, plenty of women say they needed their husbands there, so it's not a hard and fast rule for him or anything. I thought it was a really interesting idea because he talked about the tribal role of the father, which was to protect the scene -- stand at the door and make sure nobody disturbed the process. He said this can sometimes be a good role for the father during a hospital birth, when clearly there are a ton of people causing disturbances. In other places in the book, Odent was also very much in favor of a laboring woman locking herself in the bathroom and refusing to talk to anyone, so I think it's part of his bigger picture -- that women need and deserve as much privacy as possible in labor, and they shouldn't have anyone around they feel like they need to placate or take care of.

I told all this to my DH, just as a point of interest, and I think it made him a little sad, though he understood if I needed him away. The further I get in my pregnancy, though, I know I need him there.
post #3 of 66
I believe that fathers, have this inate "fear" vibe. They dont "understand" what's going on at a core level, they see their wife, their beloved, their partner in what they percieve is pain, and can't do anything about it. They feel powerless, they feel...useless...and that over all "vibe" and energy can permeate the birthspace...ruining the flow of power.

If a woman wants her husband there, that's her choice...but he should be prepared, fully, mentally and spiritually to help his wife with the journey she is about to go through. Too many men dont care enough to prepare themselves in that way.

It's all about the ebb and flow of energies IMO...If the man is concerend and scared, he passes that vibe off onto his wife...

It's also a very sexual time, and many men can't wrap their heads around that , because of the conditioning our society has gone through trying to isolate Sex and birth into two polar opposites, the get turned on by an event that they really *shouldn't* be getting turned on during and they feel wierd, guilty, and anger.

Of course most men havn't seen a true natural unhihndered childbirth. They have been regaled with stories about how things go wrong, how your wife will be in horrendous pain, and will die without the help of others....

Of course I could be talking outta my ass, and please correct me if I'm wrong. But this is pretty much what I've observed..through various birth shows, and from open dialogue with my husband.
post #4 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by phoebemommy
I read his book Birth and Beyond, and he mentioned this in a different way -- if I remember correctly, he said it's awkward for most women to push like they're taking a dump in front of their husbands, and possibly take a dump in the process...
I guess the fact that I "take a dump" in front of dh almost every morning made labor no big thing for me...:
post #5 of 66
I was in labor with my first child for 3 days. As soon as my dp fell asleep from exhaustion, the pushing contractions finally began.

My father was not present for my birth or for my brother's birth, although he was present for the entire labor both times. Why? Because, in both cases, as soon as he left the room, that's when the baby came out.
post #6 of 66
IME, over 25 years, ANYONE present at the birth who is feeling 'weak' or scared, will cause the mother to have trouble. Not just the father, but even a worried grandmother, etc. THat is why it is important that only those who can offer support and strength be at a birth.
The birth's that have had no 'worried' persons, were often the most 'easiest', peaceful, no problems.

A mother in labor picks up on everything, even if she is not actively trying to, as it is an instinct to keep herself and her newborn safe, as that is when they are most vulnerable.
post #7 of 66
Huh. Interesting... DH was at both of my births and I had a 53 hour labor and a 28 hour labor... Interesting...(although I tend to think my delays were caused by so many doctors and nurses rushing me...)
post #8 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllyRae
although I tend to think my delays were caused by so many doctors and nurses rushing me..
I agree. Natural birth would have no one coming in and out, constantly questioning you and breaking your focus on giving birth. Then the fears of "what if".
post #9 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by phoebemommy
I read his book Birth and Beyond, and he mentioned this in a different way -- if I remember correctly, he said it's awkward for most women to push like they're taking a dump in front of their husbands, and possibly take a dump in the process (my tacky verbage, of course).
I can totally understand that. i don't even poo when dh is home and we have been together 10 years. that was a BIG problem with my second son. my first he didn't want to be "down there" and was all up in my business with the second and i was not pushing hard for fear he would see me "take a dump" ( )
post #10 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies
IME, over 25 years, ANYONE present at the birth who is feeling 'weak' or scared, will cause the mother to have trouble. Not just the father, but even a worried grandmother, etc. THat is why it is important that only those who can offer support and strength be at a birth.
The birth's that have had no 'worried' persons, were often the most 'easiest', peaceful, no problems.

A mother in labor picks up on everything, even if she is not actively trying to, as it is an instinct to keep herself and her newborn safe, as that is when they are most vulnerable.
Wow, I'm glad my theory isn't a bunch of Hooey!



I feel so much better now! *giggle*
post #11 of 66
I can see how this can be true for some families. It wasn't true for my case, but I know some women are embarassed to labor and push in front of their husbands, especially if their husbands are showing fear or uneasiness. Maybe if you're having a long labor, your husband should be sent out on an errand and see if things pick up!
post #12 of 66
I disagree with Dr. Odent. I think the most common cause for a long and difficult labor (in this country anyway) is the doctor and other medical attendants, both directly in their interactions with the mother, and indirectly by making the father uncomfortable and/or fearful (which transfers to the mother.)
post #13 of 66
I like that, if you can't poop in front of your husband he shouldn't be at the birth! Same goes for your male (or female) OB, midwife, whoever...IMO positive and comfortable energy is important to birth.

If those around you aren't confident, comfortable, and gently excited by your birth they need to be removed from the birthing room. I think that the confident requirement probably excludes most new father to be's.

My dh is a wonderful loving husband and father but he just doesn't "get" the emotional and spiritual signifigence of pregnancy and birth. With my first dd I tried to force the prenatal father-baby-birth connection by making him come to all my prenatal appts but the birth was a disaster and having him there contributed to that. I think I accepted more interventions because I sensed how uncomfortable he was and wanted to be finished ASAP.

With my second birth I had a doula and was at the birth center while her cared for dd1 in the next room. Every time he walked into the room I was hit by this huge wave of irritation and I didn't get the urge to push until he and dd1 left the building to get some food. Funny, I didn't think of that until reading this thread.

So anyway if you are a preggo mom and reading this thread I would encourage you to talk to your dh about how he would feel if you booted him out of the room during the birth or labor. Not that I suggest you plan this if he really wants to be there but it's just something to think about and talk to your doula/MW about if you get to a point during your labor/birth were things don't feel right or you start to feel irritated or panicy. It may not be something that you can consciously decide or articulate during the moment so make sure that your support team has this idea in their bag if tricks, kwim?
post #14 of 66
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by natashaccat
My dh is a wonderful loving husband and father but he just doesn't "get" the emotional and spiritual signifigence of pregnancy and birth.

So anyway if you are a preggo mom and reading this thread I would encourage you to talk to your dh about how he would feel if you booted him out of the room during the birth or labor.
This sounds just like my dh. When I spew my ideals and all, he just totally doesn't "get" it. One time when I was venting about elective inductions he was like, "Why do you take this stuff so seriously?" The guy totally doesn't get the point yet, hoping this first birth will give him some insight!

Plus he has some cultural baggage that the dad is not meant to be involved too much the whole woman's pregnancy/birth process, altho' naturally being raised here it's to a lesser degree than the "back in the mother country" mentality.

I feel now like I've made a mistake insisting *too* much that he be at the birth...initially he didn't want to be there. Now I'm starting to realize that what if I just want to kick him out to get into my own space? I don't want him to think that I pulled this "I need you so much" spiel and then dumped him at the last minute. So yeah, like you mention, I'm gonna have to run the "I may boot you out" idea by him
post #15 of 66
Thread Starter 
oops, double post!
post #16 of 66
My dh was there for the birth of my dd. I think that most of the delays in my labor were from my female OB, a female volunteer from the Red Cross, and my scared mom. I could feel the fear radiating from her. I may exclude her from our next birth for that reason.

My dh was the picture of calm. He told me later he was really nervous, but he hid it from me successfully.
post #17 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by poetesss

I feel now like I've made a mistake insisting *too* much that he be at the birth...initially he didn't want to be there. Now I'm starting to realize that what if I just want to kick him out to get into my own space? I don't want him to think that I pulled this "I need you so much" spiel and then dumped him at the last minute. So yeah, like you mention, I'm gonna have to run the "I may boot you out" idea by him
Yes! No one should be in your birthing space that isn't 100% comfortable with being a part of the birth experience, if his involvement feels even a tiny bit forced then yes make absolutely sure that you have a plan B for alternative support and that you doula is comfortable with knowing that she can suggest to him that he leave if this seems like the appropriate thing to do.
post #18 of 66
I can't say for sure. My MIL was there and I didn't want her to be, but I wasn't in a comfortable place to tell her to get lost. I just wanted to crawl inside myself and having her there...ugh...so DH and I went into the bathroom and closed the door and I labored alot in the jacuzzi, but I still felt the need to hold back because he was so worried about me, though he tried hard not to show it (apart from asking me if I was OK after every contractions : )...but he didn't know what to expect, I hadn't "trained" him. I wasn't expecting back labor, or MIL there....but I think if the dad can be calm and supportive, that he'd be an asset, not a hindrance. I can definitely see where having the dad there CAN cause FTP though. (I ended up getting an epi then pitocin )
post #19 of 66
For me, every time I've hit transition I've hauled myself up and away from everyone else to experience labour by myself (don't gasp with horror- I have very gentle labours) The privacy has been nice, but one day I'm going to stop doing this and stay by myself in my own little nest and have other people go away instead. And not give birth on a toilet/slippery lino floor/white duvet.
A LOT of what Odent says makes sense to me- I like his views on water birth as well.
post #20 of 66
I've been meaning to get back to this, I wanted to elaborate after I said I disagreed with Dr. Odent, because really I love him and agree with him for the most part. It's nice to see this thread because in previous threads when I questioned the wisdom of expecting the father to attend the mother and be her primary support in labor, I saw a lot of resistance.

So, who started this idea, really? It wasn't the mothers. It was men like Drs. Bradley and Lamaze who recognized that women did better if they had a loving, familiar person with them in the cold, clinical setting of the hospital (especially as it was back then.) The father, being at the time considered to be in an authoritative sort of role as husband, would also (in theory) be well received as a guide and coach by the (hypothetically) subservient wife. Doctors who did not want this role usurped, or who felt they saw husbands not playing it well, resisted having them there. But enough women felt comforted by their husbands, and enough husbands felt honored to witness the miracle of their own children's births, that the idea caught on. Now it would be unthinkable for a doctor to deny a father access to the birthing room.

One unfortunate result of the movement to have fathers involved, though, is that now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction: fathers must be at the birth. It is their responsibility. And the problem with that is that men are not biologically meant to be involved in the birthing process. They have no intimate understanding of it from experience or hormones, so their actions during the birth are more likely to be based on what they've been taught rather than on an inner knowing, and that can easily give rise to fear and agitation (although, of course, they are not the only ones who can send this to the mother.) And as they're working from a place in their head, there will be conflict with what the mother's body is telling her from the inside. The adrenaline is going to be in the air as well, which will affect the mother's body's ability to function in itself, even apart from the psychological effect. It's a tall order for the father to be what the mother needs in birth. A lot of men "fail", judging from the many birth stories I've read, but they've been set up for failure by unreasonable expectations. And many men also, doing what they've been taught, guide and coach and help the mother to stay "in control", which (even if they're calm while doing so) interferes with the natural process, keeping the mother from going to a completely primal consciousness which allows the unimpeded flow of birthing hormones. So in that sense as well, they (or, again, whoever does this) can hinder the labor.

That said, some men do manage to be calm and nurturing during the birth process and can be a great asset. My husband was able to enter into a very primal place with me, and that was a greater comfort and security and support than any other birth attendant could have been.

Personally, I think that if women felt safer to begin with, and did not feel the expectations of society to have what it currently defines as a "good husband", they would generally not feel it so important to have the fathers present at birth. Their choice would be based on their primal needs, their level and type of connection with the father, and on the father's feelings.

Bonding is another matter, though. I think it's valid to consider whether it is essential, in a society where a father, mother, and children make up a somewhat isolated and autonomous family unit, that the father have every opportunity to bond with the mother and baby. In more tribal societies, the mother's day-to-day support would be more likely to come from her mother, her aunts, her sisters, her female neighbors (who would also act as midwives.) It was important, therefore, that she and the baby bond with them, and it made sense therefore that they be present when bonding hormones were flooding the mother's body. It doesn't make sense for the mother to bond with someone she will likely never see again, like a doctor or modern-day midwife, and in fact can lead to feelings or loss and abandonment, contributing to postpartum depression.

It makes sense in our culture, then, for the husband (as he feels comfortable with it) to be present at birth, not necessarily for labor support, but simply to witness it and be there for the bonding period. Whether that can happen when a birth is medicalized is another question, as the mother may not be flooded with those bonding hormones when birth is medicalized or disturbed.

So it's not a black and white "father at birth is always good" or "father at birth is always not good." It depends on several different factors.
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