I was honored to hear Dr. Odent speak at the Trust Birth Conference. While we are all entitled to have our own opinions and do as we see fit, I do believe Dr. Odent has done a lot of research into the subject. The first time I read this opinion of his, my gut reaction was that it was a lot of bull.
Then, I started thinking about my own births. DH was always there. How frightening was it for him at the first when I was in pain and he couldn't do anything about it? What about when they all descended on me to prep me for a c/section? He was there in the OR with me and still talks about seeing my insides. He tried to be strong and was great with the baby, but it must have been distressing for him.
At the next birth, the hospital staff pushed him aside completely, and he began worrying all over again when they started whispering about a possible repeat section. Instead, he got to watch the CNM cut open my perineum.
At the next one, the CNMs again tried to push him aside and keep him in the dark. He let them know that he didn't appreciate it then and he wanted to know what was going on. He has told me he felt awful making me do all this stuff to make labor progress when he knew I was in pain... even though we had agreed upon all that. My impression of his help at our 3rd birth was that he was wonderfully supportive... but he felt helpless.
He missed the next one. Maybe there is something to Dr. Odent's theory. I was at 5 cm and so he went out to check the older kids in my inlaws' motorhome in the hospital parking lot. He needed to calm a few of them down, then showed the ER staff the Hale-Bopp comet on his way back in. He thought he'd walked into the wrong room because I had already had the baby. He felt badly for missing it, but my labor just took off after he left. He'd only been gone about half an hour.
Then we had babies at home. He busied himself with readying the supplies, cooking and other tasks most of the time. He caught the first one we had at home. He stayed in the kitchen except for the actual birth for the next one... he was pretty busy at the next setting up and letting me lean on him for awhile, but he kept busy in the kitchen for some time before and after the birth, and with our last one, he was present but again, left it to "us women." I've asked him about it, and while he loves to witness the birth of each of our children, he feels there really isn't anything for him to do except take care of the other kids, cook and get things ready. He says that he is comfortable knowing this is a "woman's thing" (his words).
So, maybe there is something to what Dr. Odent says. It may not be on an obvious level... and I know I like to depend on my hubby when I need him, but he sees this as something he can never fully be a part of. I know I was always on my own during my 3 miscarriages... the last one had a full-blown labor, and he stayed in the living room as I labored in the bedroom. At the time, part of me was upset that he wasn't in there holding my hand, but then I found the strength in myself to realize this was my task... not his. I depended on myself, and I think because of this, my last birth went very calmly. I didn't need him to do anything at that birth that he was not comfortable with... I labored on my own and he got to participate in his own way instead of feeling he had to take care of me.