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Do you think men should supervise birth? - Page 2

post #21 of 55
I think it goes without saying that husbands belong at the birth of their babies, but I still feel soooooo uncomfortable with the fact that there are so many male birth attendants. Yes, I know that female ob's can be more harsh and all that than men, but maybe if they didn't feel like they had to live up to a man's view of being a dr they wouldn't be that way. Plus, I still just feel really violated that men are out there examining parts and giving orders/suggestions about body parts they don't have and have no personal knoweldge of what it is like. Men do not belong peering between women's legs and certainly not feeling around and all that (hubbys and the like excluded, of course ) and especially not when a woman is in such a subordanant (sp?) position as lying on her back with her feet held back in stirrups. It just feels soooo wrong and unnatural to me.
post #22 of 55
I just wanted to address what zoo keeper said in her last post.
The medical technology that men brought about in the field of childbirth actually HARMED women and babies more than it helped them. When men entered the field of birthing, the women were routinely rendered unconcious and their babies literally pulled from the womb with forceps, which were created by a man named Dr. DeLee, who truly and honestly believed a woman could not birth a baby on her own. It was the advancement of STERILIZATION TECHNIQUES and healthy lifestyles that brought about a reduction of maternal/fetal death... the technology that "men" invented to "save" women and babies helped 5% of them; it harmed the 95% who did not need it...

and these men taught that childbirth was a dangerous, secretive, and shameful business that only men could safely surprivise. And that rings true to many women today.
post #23 of 55
Thread Starter 
Just want to thank everyone for their very insightful replies on this thread. It is great to know that other woman have thought about this and have the same feelings of dis-ease regarding men running the birth show....

post #24 of 55
Originally posted by candiland
were routinely rendered unconcious and their babies literally pulled from the womb with forceps, which were created by a man named Dr. DeLee, who truly and honestly believed a woman could not birth a baby on her own
Actually, it wasn't DeLee, it was Chamberlain who invented forceps. DeLee was responsible for the popularization of the episiotomy. :mad:
post #25 of 55
I don't have a problem with male obstetricians. I think that men are just as capable of recognizing the miracle of birth and for my first birth, my husband was an excellent coach. Sometimes I think that women can actually be worse. I also don't feel like I gave up control or power to my ob. He was understanding, sympathetic and extremely kind. He knew when I would be embarrassed and was excellent at distracting me. He respected everything I requested regarding my births. I had one exam by a female and she was awful. It grossed me out big time to be honest. I think whatever a person is most comfortable with is what they should do.
P.S. Anyone have a problem with female fire fighters, presidents of companies and urologists? Do you think that women should give men the old "turn your head and cough"?
post #26 of 55
I spend years swearing that men shouldn't be allowed to be ob/gyns or midwives, period.

I was lucky enough to be doing a midwifery internship in Texas where I met several amazing midwives, one of whom happened to be a man. Robin was one of the most respectful and kind people I had ever met. He was gentle and always asked permission before he laid one hand on a woman, if she said no, he backed off. He taught me that there was more to being a great midwife than gender. I'd trust him to catch my baby...before some women I know.

To the ladies that would refuse an attendant based on whether or not the attendant had given or could give birth...please consider that there are dedicated midwives who spend years getting their training and then spend more years practicing before they can take the time to have their own families.

Please take the time to learn about the people you want at your birth. Don't reject someone out of hand. Ultimately, the only person who can pick the right attendant is you.

post #27 of 55
I would never let anyone attend my birth (except for dh and he knows he is only allowed to do as he is told. none of this breath, your doing great cheerleader crap. what does he know) unless they had given birth themselves.

in defense of guys though. After I had my first one I had a male nurse do my follow up he was really young and just a student. he was soooooo sweet and nice. first of all he never once looked at anything I wouldn't have shown any guy on the street. Secondly when ever he was sent into to do whatever it is they are supposed to do with uteruses in the hospital (most of my friend equate it with getting punched in the stomach) he would barely touch me because he was scared of hurting me. He walked in once reight after I had finished pumping and I was crying because I hadn't gotten anything out (turned out the pump was hooked up wrong) he was very comporting and assured me something would come out sooner or later and took time to chit chat with me and tell me what a beautiful baby book I had and how smart it was of me to grab it. He aslo made sure i wasn't offended to have a male nurse and said if I was at all uncomfortable with it he would find me a female nurse. I really appreciated that. I am sure all that wore off as he completed his training.

I also wanted to comment on the whole pelvic exzam thing. My friend and I went through pregnancy and were due within 3 weeks of each other. She would ask me every week how far dialated I was and was genuinly shocked each time when I told her I didn't know because I hadn't had a pelvic exam throughout my preg. "How do you know where you are" she would constantly ask. My answer was, when I start having contractions I will have a baby really soon after. i was right.
post #28 of 55
This is an interesting discussion. I only want to add that I have heard that some women nurses are very insensitive and rude during labor. Being a woman doesn't make one a better birth-attendant. Being educated and sensitive makes one a better birth-attendant. IMHO
post #29 of 55
I agree that "women make better birth attendants" is a generalization. But for the most part, you'll find that most midwives are female and are *generally* a heck of a lot more hands-off than docs and ob's are.... now, most of the women ob's I know are part of the "Ol' Boys Club". That is, they do things the way they were taught in medical school, and most are no different than their male ob. counterparts. I only know of a couple truly "hands off" obstretricians in my area, and they are men. So I understand why some ladies are "sticking up for" male birth attendants, and I do agree that some males make better attendants than some females, but GENERALLY speaking, nothing beats a woman's touch
post #30 of 55
Suffice to say there are a whole lot of people period who should be no where near a loboring woman. My main qualification (to the exception of Dr. English ) is that they have given birth, preferably at home, before. When someone says "I know it hurts" they had better be telling the truth.
post #31 of 55
In defense of the nurses (as I am one!) I don't feel you have to have gone through childbirth before to be a good support person. Many of the best nurses (in terms of labor support) have been childless or had c-s. Including myself up until 2 years ago! I was also taught long ago to never say "I know it hurts" to a laboring woman and I never will again!

Also, just wanted to agree that the female ob-gyns that I have come in contact with, have been very agressive and interventionist in their care of laboring women.
post #32 of 55
Many great thoughts here. It has enlighted me regarding both sides.

I personally would not want to give birth with any other man present other than my husband. I chose a great female midwife to attend Hannah's birth at home. She is nurturing, respectful and kind, yet strong and empowering as well.

I want my care provider to understand, really understand what I'm going through. My midwife had given birth to 3 children when she delivered Hannah. She knew what it was like to have a good birth, and she knew what it was like to have a bad birth.

A man can not ever understand what it is to be with child, to give birth, to nurse a child, or have a hormone surge so strongs it brings waves of emotions that are sometimes difficult to deal with. I chose someone skilled and wise, who could also relate, understand, and and advise because she herself had been there too.
post #33 of 55
I'm just now reading this thread and find it very interesting. The huge episiotomy story angers me, and brings to mind that incident where the doctor carved his initials in a woman's abdomen while performing a c-section. It makes me want to hunt him down and take a hot branding iron to some part of him.

Growing up I wasn't happy at how most of the people in positions of authority were male, and how plenty of women seemed happy to keep it that way. My mother even told me once that she would never want to work for a female boss, which really irritated the heck out of me. Then later when she was a manager herself, she got upset when some people seemed not to respect her. Well, gosh mom, maybe they just don't approve of female bosses!

I remember as a very young child saying that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, and my sister said, "You can't be a doctor, you're a girl!" My mom actually corrected my sister and told her I could be a doctor and there were women doctors. This was in the early 70s, and I planned to be a doctor all my life until I was pre-med in college and realized there was no way I'd get into med school with my chemistry, calculus and physics grades. I had to do some major soul searching.

Anyway, I've always said I would only have a female gynecologist, but I knew at least two people who swore they would only have male ones. Part of it was I think they were "hung up" enough to feel like it was some lesbian sex act to have a pelvic exam done by a woman. That was part of the insinuations made. Well, if you are thinking of it in sexual terms, it doesn't seem any better to have some man you don't know doing it. But both of my friends also said that they just didn't think that women were sympathetic to a woman's fears over gynecological exams because they were women themselves and had to get it done also. Men tended to be a little more careful. I think it is just and individual thing.

I was very definite about wanting a female OB. I actually wanted my sister's, because she sounded wonderful and I actually got to observe a birth with her and was very impressed with her gentleness and manner. But I was living across the country when I got pregnant, so I just had to pick one. I picked a woman who was nice and had a child of her own, but ended up scheduling me for an induction when I was something like 28 weeks along. I remember going up to make my co-pay and the woman at the desk said, "Oh, I just scheduled your induction!" I thought she had to be wrong because I was no where near term. It turns out when I was 38 weeks along, I found out my induction had indeed been scheduled for my due date. Then my OB started saying things like I was going to have a big baby and she wasn't going to do anything heroic like let me push for 2.5 hours or use a vacuum extractor. If there were any signs of trouble, I'd have to have a c-section. I cancelled my induction the night before I was to go in, and I went into to labor four days later. The doctor on call was a male and I really liked him. He was very gentle and quiet, didn't do an episiotomy and said that I would have to push for at least 3 hours before they would consider any intervention.

So I guess my thinking now is that in the mainstream hospital birthing world, there can be plenty of forward-thinking, gentle men and women, and just as many that are hideous. In the natural birth setting, however, where women are in touch with their own bodies and birth isn't a medicated procedure to be performed on a mother, I think it is more natural to have female attendants. I would think that men who believed in this model would naturally defer to women as the ones better suited to be midwives.
post #34 of 55
I just had a thought. Some women do not like men between their legs because they feel there are sexual undertones. For those of you who are heterosexual, how would you feel if the woman or man between your legs was gay?

I've been thinking and thinking about this, and I would still (other things being equal, of course,) prefer the woman to the man. That to me says that this is not, at least in my mind, about sexual modesty and/or fears, but something else. (I'm not sure what.)

I have recently been thinking that the reason some women choose midwives is because they have this archetypal vision in their heads of women helping women through a rite of passage that is specific to women. There is something romantic about the concept, in a goddess-based mythology fashion. I mean, you know, the woman go off to the menstrual hut to bleed together and beat drums or do whatever they do. There is something of this, perhaps, lost or not able to be shared when a man is involved.

Yes, some men are sensitive and some women are insensitive, and yes I'd rather have a sensitive man than an insensitive woman examing my genitals. But given a sensitive qualified man or woman, I'd still choose the woman, and not, as I've illustrated, because "men just shouldn't look at a woman's genitals, except for her husband." So there's something else, and I think it's just about the fact that women are women and men are men and some things can't just be gender neutralized any more than they can be mechanized. In a hospital birth, perhaps it is easier to gender neutralize the experience because it already is mechanized.

But why then do I prefer my husband over any woman as a birth attendant? Hm, well good question. And I think the answer to that is that I actually don't prefer him. I wanted my husband at the birth because it is an amazing thing to witness the birth of your own child, and I knew that would be a priceless gift to give to him. He was not, however, really a part of it. He was supportive and helpful and happy to be there, but he was not part of the process. It was a woman thing, not a man-and-woman thing.

I think that if I lived in a different culture in which the husband-wife connection is not the end-all be-all, in which women are emotionally and physically close to each other, the archetype ritual of woman-with-woman (midwife) would have been joyfully and satisfactorily played out. But (while I have female friends and family who I love) I have no women like THAT in my life.

Regardless, that archetype remains in our psyche, and I think that's why we tend to feel more right (not necessarily morally but in terms of what feels normal and natural) about having our medical labor attendants be women.
post #35 of 55
I guess what I mean is that I wouldn't want a male professional to be there - of course I want dh there! He was amazingly helpful.

I guess, to be fair, women shouldn't be proctologists either. Although the male patient is still more powerful than the female doctor, so maybe it's different. Also, in the case of labor and delivery, you trust any professionals there with your life and your baby's life. Pretty scary if all you get are men!

I would not mind a lesbian doc (although I probably wouldn't know, unless she kept telling me she was a lesbian, which would be weird...) because lesbians, after all, are women! Women do not usually sexually assault other women.

Also, I really wouldn't feel comfortable with a woman who had not given birth. I've had drug counselors who never took drugs, and it just did not work.
post #36 of 55
My dh gets to be there when the baby comes out because he was there when it was put in. His only role in labor this time will to be excited about the birth. He knows nothing baout what it is like to be in labor and it really pissed me off the first time when he started "coaching" even though I had signed him up for that role. This time I hired a friend for a doula who has done this five times and knows what pain is.

The whole coaching thing is off topic but really think about it. How do you think a football team would feel if I marched out onto the feild and started coaching them? Would I be qualified if I had taken 5 months of classes and watched some videos of teams playing and practiced yelling plays? No because I had never played before, I have never even been through training. Would it make me any better because the team wanted me there? Not likely. I would still b e a coach who had no idea how it felt to be tackled.

So I don't expect dh to be my coach. I have tried it once and hated it. last time he was assistant coach and did o.k. This time I just want him to focus on being into it himself instead of doing what he thinks is helpful. Actually I will be happy if he stays awake this time.:
post #37 of 55
The more I think on it the more convinced I am that the gender of the attendant matters very little to me. It is the attitude I am interested in. There are men and women involved in baby delivery with a wide range of ideas. Some, of both genders are still convinced that without interventions the whole thing will go to hell in a handbasket. There are others who have a tremendous confidence in the ability of a woman to birth her babies. I want the second kind. If it happens to come with a penis attached I don't give a fig.

All other things being equal, two great birth attendents available who just want to hang out and see if I need any help... I would probably choose a woman over a man for the same reason I prefer women musicians. Their voices make more sense in my head. There is a resonance. But not so much I would not quiz the crap out of a woman and make sure she's not a wolf in sheeps clothing as someone else here has said. Too many of us have been led down the garden path by people who give lip service to 'natural' childbirth.
post #38 of 55
I had just the opposite experience than lilyka. My dh was the one who said, "Maybe we should think about homebirth," when we found out that the birth center was closing and it was either home or hospital. He knew I could not have dealt with the hospital before I did. He stayed with me the entire time, coached me just when I needed it, and just did an all around great job. It was like he knew me and my abilities better than I did myself. He also got us through the first few weeks of breast feeding when I thought my nipples were going to burst into flames.

I was lucky enough to have one midwife, a nurse, my mil and sil, good friend, and my dh at the birth. It was a mostly all women show, but I don't think I would have done it without dh there. He was great.

Would I have done it with a male birth attendant? If he was like Dr. Sears, or Dr. Odent, or Dr. Bradley, (after his episiotmy phase) and they acted like midwives (staying with you, giving you encouragement, mostly from the other side of the room). Sure. Although I would never give up my midwife. Lori is da bomb.

post #39 of 55

My thoughts....

I agree that what matters is how sensitive your caregiver is. Many women are brusque and aggressive, and many men are caring and compassionate. I would much rather have a compassionate caregiver, regardless of gender.

My fundamental belief is that it's wrong to discriminate against people for a job based on their gender. A lot of what feminism is about has to do with opening up arenas to people that were closed to them because of their gender. So women have entered traditionally-male dominated careers, and become engineers, doctors, lawyers, and welders. And men should be able to enter traditionally female-dominated fields, like kindergarten teaching and midwifery, without stigma. Not all men are like those cold, uncaring OBs some of you have experienced: it would probably be surprising to find out how good some men would be at being midwives or doulas. I am concerned by the female image evoked by the terms "midwife" and "doula", because it serves to intimidate men from trying to enter those fields, even though those men might be better at being a midwife than many of the female midwives out there. I think we owe it to all men to allow senstitive, compassionate men to operate in the fields that they excel in. Besides that, in the United States, at least, the Civil Rights Act bans discrimination based on gender in employment, and has been tremendousy helpful in efforts to integrate workplace racially and with respect to gender.

I think the fundamental divide between OBs and midwives has to do with the training and background of people in the two separate fields: OBs are problem solvers, and logical, rational thinkers. Meyers-Briggs NTs. I am one of those logical, rational, people, too, and let me tell you that their inherent strength is not compassion, it's efficiency and problem-solving. They can learn to develop a compassionate bed-side manner, but for most OBs, this is not their natural talent (obviously, this is an over-generalization which does not characterize all OBs). This has more to do with the training and selection of OBs, than it does with gender differences themselves. This is why many people on this board have noticed that female OBs act like male OBs: they're all problem solvers. And it's not necessarily because these female OBs have been trained by the "male" medical establishment -- it probably is because they're just naturally problem solvers that they gravitated to OB in the first place.

Midwives, on the other hand, value an entirely different set of skills. Midwives tend to be more caring and compassionate because those are traits that are considered desirable in a midwife. Of course, CNMs and other trained midwives also know a lot about science, too, which is why I think midwifery is a great thing. It's a nice overlap of skills.

It's not that I'm all for allowing strangers to poke around around in your vagina for no reason. Clearly, you should be able to choose who your caregivers are for whatever reason. But I just think this is a very complicated issue.
post #40 of 55
I don't think anyone is arguing that men are incapable of being as or more compassionate and skilled than women. But if you are hiring someone specifically for the sort of deep understanding that comes from direct experience, and men (and some women for that matter) don't have that, then are you discriminating when you don't hire a man? Hardly.

I just cannot imagine applying the Civil Rights Act to something as personal as who you allow to touch your body. I don't owe that to *anyone*.
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