Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Labour of Love?

So i was surfing over at http://www.mamamia.com.au/ yesterday and i came across an article entitled " Do Men Belong In The Labour Ward ? " And, i have to say, its gotten up my nose a bit. The gist of the article is that a respected obstetrician has implied that men get in the way during labour and shouldnt be permitted into the ward during the birthing process. Its not so much the article itself that has incensed me ( i'm sure this guy made his big statement months ago, so its kind of old news to me... ) but rather the discussion in the comments section afterwards.
The majority of the comments are overwhelming in favour of having men in the delivery ward, and i am too, thats not my problem. My problem is in the way that a lot of women in the comments have judged men who havent been present for the birth of their children. How.Bloody.Dare.They? I'm sure these same women would jump and down and scream bloody murder if anyone dare judge them on any facet of their parenting, but they feel its ok to judge the fathers who, for whatever reason, havent made it into the delivery suite with their wives/partners/mothers of their children. One woman even described blokes who dont want to be in there as " cavemen ". Others have suggested ( subtley ) that men who arent present for the birth of their children mustnt be good fathers - if they dont want to be there for the very beginning, how are they going to be with the rest of the whole parenting thing?

I have to say - those kind of comments have mad me really mad. I've already written the in depth story of my sons birth here ( feel free to have a read if you havent already ) so i wont double up on the details but Mick was NOT present in the room for my labour. And, frankly, i'm glad about it. We spoke about what would happen when i went into labour, and from the get go Mick said he would prefer not to be there. When i asked why, he explained that he's very squeamish and aside from that, he wasnt sure how he would be able to cope with seeing me in pain. He was man enough to admit that, rather than be the tower of masculine strength that society insists our men should be, he would probably crumble in the face of a difficult birth and probably vomit, pass out or both. It wasnt that he didnt WANT to be there, because he loved his unborn baby and could not wait to meet him, but rather that his physical limits would prevent him being much help. And, though i was a little shocked at first, after thinking it through, i agreed - if he was going to get whoozy, or spewy, or go silent and just sit across the room and stare at me like i was some hideous, terrifying lady-beast, what use would he be to me? He'd be more of a hindrance and a distraction, for me and the midwives, than he would be a help, so i was quite content to say " Babe - you just make sure your there to hold your bubba for the first time and thats enough for me". And it was - i had my mother there for the labour and the birth, and Mick stepped into the room as Flynn was being laid on my chest for the first time. Bliss.

So why then would some women judge my fiance, a man whom i love and who is a wonderful, amazing, loving father, labelling him a "caveman "? In my eyes, he's a real man for having the balls to admit his weaknesses. I'm sure there are a lot of men who would prefer not to be in the labour ward, but are guilted into it by the mother. Some of those men may find a reserve of strength and be awesome birthing partners; some may be completely useless and the mother may regret having him there at all. I know there are also plenty of men who cannot wait for those first contractions, so excited are they to be there for all the grunting and moaning and " YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!! ". To me, its all good either way - if he wants to be there, good; if he doesnt, no sweat. Its for each and every couple to decide....as long as the decision is made together. As so many of these women at Mamamia said, child-rearing is an equal partnership, so the decisions surrounding birth should be made together, as a compromise.

Just dont judge men like mine who werent there when they could have been.I'm fine with him being in the waiting room, dealing with all his fears and trepidations about immediate impending parenthood....so why shouldnt you be? If it worked for us, and we were happy, aint none of yo business to be judgin'!


  1. I agree with you completely on this. My husband was so squeamish that he laid on the little sofa in the room with his head burried in a blanket. When it came time to push, the stirrups on my bed weren't working so they made him hold my leg. I could see the terror in his face. While I felt very secure that he was there, I felt horrible that he felt that way but stuck it out with me.
    I think it's ok too to not be there if both parties are in agreement. The important thing here is that the mom is supported by someone during the process and it can be anyone.
    This doesn't make a bad father and shame on those women for suggesting so. Simply ridiculous.
    ....stepping off my soapbox

  2. Oh I so totally agree and though my hubby was there for the birth of Cooper..he spent the entire time in the shower throwing up and nearly fainting, all of this stressed me out and to be honest was something else I had to worry about. Thankfully my mid wife was beautiful and let me have my mum and mil as they could see Jim was going to be no help! I find it funny that through it all my mum still made him watch the crowning and cut the cord. Needless to say (hopefully) the next time he won't be joining me :)

  3. Just another reason why I'm so glad I haven't been back to Mamamia for months now ;)

    Good on Mick for having the guts to be honest. My FIL didn't witness Manchild's or his brother's birth either - and even now almost 28 years later, he still gets abit weak looking when someone talks about labour in front of him.

  4. Good for Mick, I think its fantastic he was able to be honest. My DH was traumatised by the birth of son no 1. He said it was like watching me have an operation without the anaesthetic (He wasn't that far from the truth!!)

  5. No judgment here. You have to do what's right for you. I wish more people in the world would let everyone else get on with their business. Well done for doing what was right for you both.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree. The decisions a family make around the birth of their child are 100% right for them and 100% their own business. What a silly thing to base a 'good father' on... ridiculous!! x

  7. I am totally with you on this, and to each his own. I haven't had kids yet, so it's not something we've really discussed, but whatever makes my husband feel comfortable is what I'm happy with. The fact is, one of us is guaranteed to be in pain and uncomfortable anyway, so why should both of us have to be if we don't need to?

    I gotta say, this is why I've stopped commenting on Mamamia very often, and I try not to read comments too coz they just make me mad!

  8. Hehe. As we know, my Man was stuck in traffic when I was giving birth. In the backyard. With my mother in law. Nightmare...

  9. David was with me through all three births. He is incredibly weak stomached, but was so supportive and sweet through each labor. I couldn't have asked for a better birthing coach. However, I won't judge another man for not being present for the birth by choice. If his presence will make mom more stressed during delivery, it's better that he is not there. This is a time for mom to be focused on what's happening with her body, not wondering if her partner is OK with what is happening with her body.

  10. I'm your newest follower from the Friday Blog Hops! Come check out my blog at: http://adventuresofathriftymommy.blogspot.com/

    Have a great day!