Should Dads Really Be in the Delivery Room?
By Vanessa Palencia
It’s a controversial topic. Everytime I bring it up, people’s defenses go up and opinions go flying about the room. The responses usually go something like this:
“The father needs to be in there and support his partner through the birthing process because it’s the least he can do!”
“Yes, I agree, dads should be there to support their partner, but that doesn’t mean that they’re required to watch their child be born. They might get scarred for life!”
“Those dads need to man up! That’s their freaking child! Ugh, men are so weak!”
But are those squeamish men really weak?
When I was pregnant, I didn’t give the labor process much thought. I knew that I wanted the father in the room with me, but I never thought about whether or not he should watch the birthing process. Then again, I was very young, so that might have factored into it. For the most part, my labor was a blur; however, after I gave birth, I noticed the deeply troubled look on his face. The next thing I knew, he had disappeared from the room. In the words of my stepmother, “he was gone.” I knew that watching his own son be born must’ve terrified, and possibly even traumatized, him. But I had let it slide because I attributed it to his age. Surely a young boy can be easily traumatized after watching the birth of their child. But as much as I’d like to blame it on the fact that he was just too young, I know enough now to realize that even grown men are susceptible to being traumatized by the birth of their own child. So what gives?
Many researchers and experts have debated on whether dads should be allowed in the delivery room for safety reasons and to protect dads who don’t necessarily have a strong stomach. While there has still yet to be a definitive answer, they do seem to agree that there needs to be more guidance out there for fathers-to-be because even the most enthusiastic father can be a little apprehensive during the labor process. Their responses to watching their partner give birth may vary widely. Some men have nothing but fond and hilarious memories, while others may have a hard time having a sex life with their partner, or even worse, never find their partner attractive again.
Because it’s such a sensitive topic and one that’s extremely vital to the future of your relationship, it’s extremely important that you talk it out with your partner to get a better perception of where they stand. However, you should be mindful that there is no clear-cut answer as to what should be expected of fathers. What it boils down to is preference. If it’s a make-or-break kind of deal for you if your partner doesn’t want to watch the birth or even be in the delivery room, then that’s something that you two need to resolve.
Now before your defenses go up, keep in mind that dads only started being present during the birth of their child in the 70s. That’s roughly 40 years ago! So all things considered, fathers being present in the delivery room is a trend that started not too long ago. And while some people, like top obstetrician Michel Odent, may cling on to the traditional beliefs that men shouldn’t be in the delivery room, many people today embrace and encourage men to support their partner during the birthing process, and you can find many helpful tips for first-time fathers, like this one, all over the internet. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to have this discussion with your partner before or during pregnancy so that both of you can come to a better understanding of each other and ensure that there isn’t any pressure on either of you to come to a particular decision.