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#31 of 57 Old 02-02-2010, 05:27 PM
 
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I have immense respect for Odent, he is usually a very wise man. But i disagree with him on this issue.

I wonder if the couples who are more likely to see him (access or require obstetric care) are naturally more tense than those who went UC or had only a midwife or two. I wonder if HIS presence in the birthing room, as a "rival male" in that situation is what makes the men he described act as they did.

XP was fabulous when DD was born, and i think DH will be great at his kid's birth too. If any person i'd had a baby with told me they no longer wanted sex because they were weirded out by how my perfectly functioning vagina had looked i'd pack their bag for them. Seriously - put your big boy pants on and get a life! It's not a toy for my partner's joy, it's MY vagina, and if it just delivered his child safe into the world he can blimming appreciate it's perfection and put the Playboy images he was comparing me with in the bin where they belong.
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#32 of 57 Old 02-02-2010, 06:01 PM
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This article is written in the UK, where are lot of the interventions you talk about aren't routine. And I think the man has a point, I don't think I would want my partner at a birth again, he was just not comfortable and neither was I...
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#33 of 57 Old 02-02-2010, 08:17 PM
 
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Michel Odent has done a lot to forward mother-baby friendly birth but I disagree with him here. I also find it a bit hypocritical as I have seen videos of him assisting a birthing mom in a very physical and intimate way, almost pushing the dad that was present out of the picture. TBH, it gave me the heebeegeebees.
That said, I really don't think there is a right answer. There are plenty of healthy marriages where the husband/father does not provide primary labor support and sometimes isn't even present. I think it is common to romanticize birth in that all fathers will want to be 'right there' and are crying when their baby is born and should want to catch the baby and cut the cord and all that. It does a disservice I think. Not all men )and their wives) want that for whatever reason. I myself and a few friends and relatives have felt let down that their husbands weren't the husbands they read about it birth stories or watch in videos and that really isn't fair. My husband is an individual with hihs own feelings, coping skills and reactions. Just because he isn't just like the 'ideal' new father doesn't make him a bad husband or father, just himself. Like I said, I used to be hurt that my dh didn't get all mooney and teary when our baby is born and is uncomfortable with being really hands on with me during labor. I've come to realize that if he did, I would wander who he was and what did he do with my husband. We've been married almost 18 years and I have never seen him cry, over anything. he doesn't get emotional-angry or happy-over much, he has a very even personality-balances me out-who is very emotional.
The point of this long winded response is: just as there isn't a one sized fits all way for women to cope with their labor and give birth, there isn't one right way for the fathers to approach it either.

Karen, homeschooling Catholic mom to 8. #9 due 6/10
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#34 of 57 Old 02-02-2010, 08:46 PM
 
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I absolutely loathe that Michel Odent article. If it applies to you, great, but it does not apply to many couples.

The net fallout from my husband being present for the birth of our first child was the most earthshattering and amazing bonding for all three of us you could possibly imagine, multiplied by about 1,000. One of the first things he said to me about the birth when we were alone was "One moment there was one person I loved, and then the next there were two." He was totally awestruck and amazed by the experience and it really cemented that indescribable moment of becoming a little family.

My husband wasn't sure ahead of time if he wanted to see the baby actually being born, but in the moment he absolutely did and it did nothing weird to sex at all. Zero issues with any of that. I think the weird hangups described by Odent are highly misogynistic and most men and women don't suffer from those kinds of issues anymore.

My husband was by far the best possible support during labor and he and I handled the vast majority of both of my labors together without anyone else there. I cannot imagine laboring without him and would never want to do it absent his support, love and confidence.
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#35 of 57 Old 02-02-2010, 11:35 PM
 
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anyway, i don't think Odent is really talking about the emotional support that male partners offer, or that they don't need or want to see their partners give birth, but that anyone that is in the room with a labouring mother needs to be an educated and prepared presence... so automatically including someone who isn't can hinder the process.
I don't know that this is exactly what Odent is saying (it's been awhile since I read this article, probably over a year ago!) but probably is what he is noticing. I'm not sure what childbirth education is like in the UK where he is, but I do know that couples that take a good quality class that really involves dad and prepares him, and them as a couple, for the birth and birth experience, and acts as a safe platform for couples to really discuss these issues, seem to fair much better and dad is able to support mom so much better. When dad feels that he has an understanding of what is happening in the birth, he can be more relaxed.

Just like any other aspect of birth, whether or not dad is present will be highly variable from couple to couple, to say that dad's should never be in the birth room is akin to saying that all women need an epidural, and there are plenty of us here who know that is certainly not true.

Just for the record, my DP really loved being at the homebirth of both our children, made the midwife explain all about the placenta after it was birthed, twice, so he could get it on film the second time, and still tells everyone how awesome it was several years later. And having seen both children born didn't effect any other aspects of our life.

Hope the rest of your pregnancy and your birth are wonderful!!
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#36 of 57 Old 02-03-2010, 02:39 AM
 
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I can see how he is giving a voice to some men and women, but they definitely are the minority. For some anecdotal evidence, my SIL had a 4 hour labor with my first niece, my brother being her main support. He was in Iraq for their second daughter, and her labor was something like 10 hours long. Still not bad, but 2.5 times longer without her partner.

Given the lifestyle/values I have, I find it highly unlikely that I would marry someone who had birth hang ups. When I have children, they aren't just mine...they're his too. Short of extreme circumstances, I think it would be unfair (in my opinion) to keep the father out. That being said, I do plan to have women for support because I feel like the expectation of being the one and only support system can be a bit stressful on some men, and I wouldn't want that to get in the way. I want my DH to enjoy the birth when the day comes, and I feel like splitting back-rubbing or tub-fulling duties with my mom or best friend will take some of the pressure off, making everyone feel better and more relaxed.

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#37 of 57 Old 02-03-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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XP was fabulous when DD was born, and i think DH will be great at his kid's birth too. If any person i'd had a baby with told me they no longer wanted sex because they were weirded out by how my perfectly functioning vagina had looked i'd pack their bag for them. Seriously - put your big boy pants on and get a life! It's not a toy for my partner's joy, it's MY vagina, and if it just delivered his child safe into the world he can blimming appreciate it's perfection and put the Playboy images he was comparing me with in the bin where they belong.
I totally agree!

Aspiring to 1 Thessalonians 4:11.Wife to Dh, 2004. Mother to DD 3/07.
So thankful for our healthy baby boy, born Easter morning, 2010!
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#38 of 57 Old 02-03-2010, 03:24 PM
 
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my perfectly functioning vagina
I love this phrase! So true! Giving birth is what your vagina is supposed to do! Seeing it function perfectly shouldn't be a turn-off.
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#39 of 57 Old 02-03-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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Seriously - put your big boy pants on and get a life!
This was pretty much my DH's reaction when I told him how some men have problems having sex with their wife after witnessing them giving birth.

Wife to DH, Mom to my Intact Boys DS1: Born 02 Pain Med Free Hospital Birth, BF'ed for 9 Months, Partially Vax'd DS2: Born 06 via UC, BF'ed 3 years 10 months, and UnVax'd
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#40 of 57 Old 02-03-2010, 05:55 PM
 
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Am I the only one who did NOT want my husband around, lol??

We spent the entire day together, as I labored....shopping, eating, walking, etc. I was not embarrassed while I was having contractions, mostly because they were not bad at all. I wasn't sure if I were in real labor, or just prodromal labor!

Once we arrived at the birth center, and my water broke, things got intense. I got in the tub, and still was not embarrassed by the contractions. However, once the pushing began, I sent him out of the room pronto! I was too embarrassed to let him see me like that. Good thing too, because I did not go #2 all day long, so guess what happened when I started to push? Yes, that's right!

In my case, I was the one who did not want my husband to be there during the birth. He was so supportive the whole day, right up until I gave birth. Honestly, one of the reasons I was embarrassed was because I've heard the tales of husbands who view their wives differently after giving birth.

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#41 of 57 Old 02-03-2010, 09:51 PM
 
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I have immense respect for Odent, he is usually a very wise man. But i disagree with him on this issue.

I wonder if the couples who are more likely to see him (access or require obstetric care) are naturally more tense than those who went UC or had only a midwife or two. I wonder if HIS presence in the birthing room, as a "rival male" in that situation is what makes the men he described act as they did.

I had to comment b/c my DH actually used that term "rival male" and I saw it in a father's blog post on UC, too. The blogger said something like, "Men, what is your first instinct when you see another man under the sheets between your wife's legs?"

DH read Moran's husband/wife book and really agreed with it. He said it would feel weird to have another 'rival male' at our birth. He compared it to having another male in the room for sex. DH is a laidback person so I was surprised to hear the strength in his voice...he said, "You're my wife and my baby." It was kinda cute in a knight in shining armour way lol.

Mama to expecting Babe 2
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#42 of 57 Old 02-03-2010, 10:04 PM
 
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i couldn't get the link to open, and haven't had a chance to read this entire thread, but i wanted to pipe in and say mine and my dh's UC was the most intimate, bonding and sexual experience we've ever created/had together. i think he likely feels stronger about the power of my womanhood, therefore is *more* attracted to me as a result. the experience brought us to a whole new level in our relationship.

i tend to think that since the man puts the baby in, he should have a huge hand in helping it out.

my dh did everything; from wiping poop from my bum during pushing, to catching his baby and being the first to lay eyes on him and touch him, to watching my bleeding to be sure it was normal, to cleaning up all the afterbirth! love that man.

Midwife apprentice and mama to 6, including three UC babies: Jude River, 06/04/08, Alora Wren Isolde, 9/27/10, and our newest addition, Ailish Brynn Elspeth, 6/12/14!
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#43 of 57 Old 02-04-2010, 07:46 AM
 
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See my ex wiped poop from me while i was in early second stage too, and honestly i felt this massive rush of love and gratitude and he told me afterwards how much it showed him what i was going through in that moment, that my entire body had gone crazy on me and i was there, on my knees, hanging in there for his baby and our family. It really fostered respect and love between us, and honestly, given how things were before and after, it is probably what sustained what was left of our relationship in the weeks following birth (rocky isn't the word!).
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#44 of 57 Old 02-05-2010, 11:31 PM
 
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I thought this was pertinent to the discussion:

http://www.theothersideoftheglassthefilm.blogspot.com/

I think we do have to remember that men can experience birth trauma. It's real and it hurts women AND men (and babies!). So if anyone was hurting, I just wanted to put this link up....

Mama to expecting Babe 2
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#45 of 57 Old 02-07-2010, 12:34 AM
 
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I think it depends on the man. My DH is literally the calmest, most laid back person I have ever met. He wasn't pumping out adrenaline while I was in labor, or if he was, I didn't know it.

I have heard two different men say what I personally consider to be unpleasant things about their wives giving birth. One said it smelled disgusting and he didn't ever want to be involved in anything like that again. Another one was talking about how it looked to see the baby coming out, but the way he described it was just so...I don't know...irreverent, I guess, that I was glad he wasn't my SO. I don't really want someone describing my child being born to say that my vagina looked like a giant cave yawning open. He didn't mean to be rude at all, but the way he described it (I can't remember it verbatim) just gave me this feeling that he thought the whole thing was freaky, rather than amazing. I would say those are two men who would've hindered my labor and delivery, lol. My own DH didn't, though, so whatever.
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#46 of 57 Old 02-07-2010, 06:36 AM
 
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I have heard two different men say what I personally consider to be unpleasant things about their wives giving birth. One said it smelled disgusting and he didn't ever want to be involved in anything like that again. Another one was talking about how it looked to see the baby coming out, but the way he described it was ... like a giant cave yawning open.
Exactly. The first time I ever saw a woman give birth I KNEW I did not want my future husband to see it. EVER.

Yes, the smell is very strong (of course you don't notice when you're the mom bc you are too distracted by the pain) and having seen a number of deliveries I agree that it looks really freaky, kind of like... a giant cave yawning open. And there is blood everywhere. And don't get me started about poop (which didn't happen for me but of which I was terrified also).

I made DH stay by my head the whole time. Actually I specifically remember screaming "Don't let him down there!!" between contractions when the MW started talking about having him cut the cord.

(He did cut the cord btw, it was long enough for him to be able to do that without Seeing The Scene, lol.)

I kind of agree that birth ought to be a women's thing. Since the female support network is really degraded in modern Western society the husband has kind of stepped in, which is better than no support but really I don't think it's optimal.

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#47 of 57 Old 02-07-2010, 09:23 AM
 
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If I could do it again I would not have had DH as my main support person, but a good doula. He was fine and would not have missed it for the world, but I did not have the birth support I so desperately needed. He was a deer in lights and although this article is more about how birth effects him, in my case his (lack of) presence effected me and how I now see him. I guess my respect for him has changed resulting from feeling let down by his lame support. he was all talk leading up to the birth then, bang - the lights came on and he was as useful as advil would be for contractions.
I know he would want to be there for future births but I will be having a doula by my side, not him. He can continue staring at the lights...
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#48 of 57 Old 02-08-2010, 12:03 AM
 
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I think my husband wouldn't miss it for the world. He saw everything with our first child - of course, when you're pushing on a birth stool or in another upright position, things aren't quite as spread out for all the world to see. He's never considered NOT being there for our upcoming birth - he keeps making suggestions for how he can support me better during pushing. So I don't think it traumatized him. We certainly didn't have any sexual problems afterward. Now, I do think that good communication is important. I was a bit annoyed with him during my first labor, because he didn't read my mind and know how I wanted my back rubbed, and I was too busy to actually SAY anything. This time around we've talked about things more, so I'm hoping he'll be even more help. But for me, just having him there is the most important part.

A friend of mine had a somewhat different experience. She was in a hospital, and her husband was her only support person. So when he didn't really pay full attention to her labor whims, and fell asleep as transition neared, she didn't have anyone else, and ended up with an epidural she hadn't wanted. She's planning on having her mom for support next time, and him just for being the father.

Everybody is different.
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#49 of 57 Old 02-08-2010, 02:27 PM
 
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I think the issue may not be the whole "seeing the birth" as the more emotional ramifications... mom feels her dh let her down because he didn't support her like she expected... he feels guilt for not supporting/protecting her better, etc. and anger for being put in that position where he is totally out of his experience but expected to perform. I just don't think the pressure should be all on the father for supporting the mom during the entire birth... that is really a more natural job for another woman... preferably one trained in birth, or who has experienced it herself. That's not to say men can't be wonderful labor companions... some most definitely are. But, I don't think it's something that comes naturally to most of them, kwim?

My dh is a stand-up guy. He was very active during our first hospital birth, although we also had a doula who took some of the pressure off of him. For our second and third births at home, he was engaged with manual tasks such as setting up the birth pool... which I think is ideal. Ds2's birth was crazy fast and a bit chaotic. Ds3's birth was perfect... but really, dh pacing outside the bathroom door while I floated in bliss between contractions in the birth pool was a bit distracting. I was perfectly at ease... he was still a nervous wreck but trying not to show it.. and this was #3! I wish I could've thought of a few more things for him to "do." I felt immense comfort for him just being AROUND, but I did not really need him right there all the time. And, I wouldn't want him to miss the birth at all, and neither would he.

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#50 of 57 Old 02-08-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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DH was fabulous. He was a very calm, supportive presence, even though he was kinda in the background because I did all the birthing stuff myself and didnt' really want to be touched or anything. He and my doula just gave me encouragement while I went with the flow.

DH and I had talked about the "witnessing the birth" thing ahead of time. He saw the same live birth videos in health class that we all do, so he wasn't unfamiliar with what birth looks like, so he knew he wasn't going to be entranced by it, but he knew for sure being there for the process was important to him. And he never had issues about sex afterward...just wasn't ever an issue.

*I* was most worried about pooping in front of him. And then I did it three times, so there you go. He didn't care about that either.
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#51 of 57 Old 02-08-2010, 05:29 PM
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If I could do it again I would not have had DH as my main support person, but a good doula. He was fine and would not have missed it for the world, but I did not have the birth support I so desperately needed. He was a deer in lights and although this article is more about how birth effects him, in my case his (lack of) presence effected me and how I now see him. I guess my respect for him has changed resulting from feeling let down by his lame support. he was all talk leading up to the birth then, bang - the lights came on and he was as useful as advil would be for contractions.
I know he would want to be there for future births but I will be having a doula by my side, not him. He can continue staring at the lights...
I totally totally agree with this post. In my quiet mind I sometimes blame him for his lack of support, and the fact that he was scared for me made me nervous too.
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#52 of 57 Old 02-10-2010, 02:16 AM
 
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OP, when i first started reading your post I thought you meant having MY dad in the room while I was birthing! Yikes!! Definitely do NOT want that!

To answer your question though, DH was there and wouldn't have missed it for anything. He actually caught #3. And I think our sex life is actually better since we've had kids.
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#53 of 57 Old 02-12-2010, 07:50 PM
 
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Given the lifestyle/values I have, I find it highly unlikely that I would marry someone who had birth hang ups. When I have children, they aren't just mine...they're his too. Short of extreme circumstances, I think it would be unfair (in my opinion) to keep the father out. That being said, I do plan to have women for support because I feel like the expectation of being the one and only support system can be a bit stressful on some men, and I wouldn't want that to get in the way. I want my DH to enjoy the birth when the day comes, and I feel like splitting back-rubbing or tub-fulling duties with my mom or best friend will take some of the pressure off, making everyone feel better and more relaxed.
Completely agree with my dearest BFF here! Even though the baby was in my uterus the whole nine months, he/she couldn't have gotten there without the daddy's help! And I would want my DH mostly for the emotional support, as some of you have stated. I think it would bring us closer together by sharing the amazing moment of a new birth together. I mean, it's stress, being anxious, frustration, and happiness (these or more even!)-- all in one situation, and who better to take part in that than both parents!

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#54 of 57 Old 02-15-2010, 06:48 AM
 
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See maybe that's why it worked out for us and not for others - XP did not "witness" the birth - he went through it with me. Not physically (though the next day his muscles were sore too from rubbing, pressing, holding, supporting etc.) but emotionally and mentally HE was labouring too.

I asked him about the "ew, weird, look how stretched her vagina looks!" thoughts and he said he never had time to think in those terms, his head was filled with what WE were doing, not what *I* was doing, or even more distantly what my vagina was doing. He said he'd struggle to be detached enough from even a filmed birth of a stranger to think that sort of thoughts and queried whether use of pornography could put men into a "critical appraiser" headspace during birth...?
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#55 of 57 Old 02-19-2010, 11:12 PM
 
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I started reading the article with an open mind, and even thought he had some possibly valid points regarding the stress of having DH present at births, but when he started talking about men not being able to handle seeing their child come out of the mother I just started laughing. Really??!! I would think that in a strong loving relationship this would not be an issue (or not much of one). And any man who just leaves b/c of this probably wasn't good long term material to begin with. My DH was present at our daughter's birth. I had doubts about this in the beginning b/c he does not handle stress well. I wanted a Bradley birth and he dutifully attended the classes with me, cracking jokes for several weeks. But somewhere in the middle of this he got it! he started taking the classes seriously. And I talked with him about how I was relying on him to be my coach and how much I needed his strength and support. And the man who usually can't handle things handled it, and felt good about his role, confident in his strength as a father and a husband. It wasn't any particular thing he did, I found I didn't need as much from him as I thought I would. there is a certain amount of introspection involved in birthing, and despite DD's large size (almost 11 pounds) I was ready and able to do this labor thing. But when I hit the pushing stage and it lasted for two hours, I started to struggle (I just could not get the right rythm going) it was my DH reminding me how to breathe and push correctly that I listened to, not my mom, not my amazingly wonderful midwife, but only him. Although I probably could of gotten through the rest of my labor wothout him if I had to, it was that moment that I truly needed him. No one else was getting through to me and he was there. Does he look at me differently now? Absolutely. He looks at me with wonder and amazement for the strength that I had to give us this wonderful child who has made us truly family.
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#56 of 57 Old 02-20-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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I'm going to be the voice of dissent here and say that I completely agree with Odent. There definitely are men out there who should NEVER be present at the birth of their children, my XH is one of them. His complete failure as a husband to protect and support me during my most vulnerable moment was the final nail in the coffin that led to me leaving him 4 months PP.

When I was in the midst of transition, he was sitting in the corner of our bedroom with both fingers jammed in his ears, flipping through a comic book and saying in between each loud contraction "Why don't you just go to the hospital and get the f****** drugs already!?" Forget laboring effectively when you have someone like THAT in the room with you, it's really no surprise I wound up with a horrific hospital birth rape (I have permanent vaginal tearing from the OB punishing me for attempting a UC). For the record, I would've left him either way, but had he not been present DS and I may have had the benefit of a peaceful birth.

I'm pregnant with #2 now with a new partner and not so sure I'm going to want him in the room with me late in labor. It's two sides of the same coin...I do have some serious hang ups because of XH but I also know that DBF is extremely protective of me if I so much as complain of a stubbed toe, his first reaction is "do you need medical help?". While he means well, I know that attitude will not be conducive to birthing a baby. He's never seen anything but medicalized hospital birth and I'm not sure I can thoroughly reprogram his thinking to recognize labor pain as a normal physiological function in the next 6 months.

I'm absolutely not saying that most men aren't capable of effectively supporting their wives/partners during labor and birth, I do believe most men are. But it's something that takes serious preparation, I doubt more than a very small number can walk into it blindly and not hinder a birth. Given my own experience, my default would be "leave me alone". In retrospect, XH's behavior at DS's birth was mostly due to his own immaturity and selfishness, but I can't completely discount pervasive cultural attitudes surrounding pain and birth and simple physiological horomonal truths. Not being able to say for sure exactly how much the latter 2 played a part is why I'm not so sure I want a man present when I give birth in the future.
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#57 of 57 Old 02-20-2010, 11:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lilygoose View Post
it was my DH reminding me how to breathe and push correctly that I listened to, not my mom, not my amazingly wonderful midwife, but only him. Although I probably could of gotten through the rest of my labor wothout him if I had to, it was that moment that I truly needed him. No one else was getting through to me and he was there. Does he look at me differently now? Absolutely. He looks at me with wonder and amazement for the strength that I had to give us this wonderful child who has made us truly family.
That is so wonderful. Very well put. Sounds like a great DH, so glad you had such great help with that experience.

~Lisha
L.☮.♥.E.
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