Delivery room dads

A leading obstetrician from the UK claims that fathers shouldn’t be allowed at the birth of their children, arguing that they cause a long and difficult labour.

Michel Odent wrote an article claiming that when women give birth their partner should not be present.

Odent said: "For many years, I haven't been able to speak openly about my views that the presence of a father in a delivery room is not only unnecessary but also hinders labour. To utter such a thing over the past two decades would have been regarded as heresy and flown in the face of popular convention. But, having been involved in childbirth for 50 years and having been in charge of 15,000 births, I feel it's time to state what I - and many midwives and obstetricians - privately consider the obvious: that there's little good to come, for either sex, from having a man at the birth of a child."

In contrast, Dr Ric Gordon says that although we need more research to understand this emotionally charged event, he feels very strongly that if both partners agree to the dad being present, then he should absolutely be there.

Dr Ric Gordon says:

  • Dr Odent makes some interesting but unscientific observations.
  • Many men provide the comfort and emotional support their partners require.
  • Many men reduce the amount of pain relief that is used by coaxing/coaching/offering words of encouragement.
  • Health providers, have to be aware that both the mother and father can suffer from post natal depression – but there Dr Ric has not seen any good studies that relate its occurrence with being present at the delivery.
  • Dr Ric claims to have seen the most touching of moments straight after a baby is born between mother, baby and father.
  • Dr Ric says he prefers to keep fathers up the "non works end" at delivery because seeing the changes (stretching) of vital parts can be a bit daunting. (Fortunately, with appropriate exercises and stitching, things return pretty well back to normal and a subsequent sex life should not suffer.)

How to be a good dad in the delivery room

1. Discuss expectations beforehand - Discuss her birth plan in advance and what she expects from the doctor and what help and support she would like from you.

2. Be prepared - Birth can be a noisy and messy affair. You need to be prepared for what lies ahead and realise that it's entirely natural.

3. Stay calm - Avoid getting in the way of the medical staff and just being a good support to your partner. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed she will be.

4. Be mindful of her needs.

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