Bad idea to have Dad in the delivery room?

Avatar for Cmmelissa
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
Bad idea to have Dad in the delivery room?
Thu, 11-08-2012 - 12:36pm

This article from Today has me asking if anyone made the decision to not have the Dad in the delivery room, or if he felt different about you sexually afterwards?  It's based on a British writer who felt traumatized after witnessing his wife's emergency c-section; he says that he has several friends that have felt the same and all feel that it has negatively affected their sex life.

From the article: 

"When the body parts that were once considered for sexual pleasure suddenly become feeding machines or birthing holes, some guys feel traumatized by that," says Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of "Postpartum Depression for Dummies." "It's very common and often really good guys are feeling terrible about their feelings -- but they're there and that doesn't make them a bad guy," Dr. Bennett told TODAY Moms. In fact, guys may wind up feeling guilty for their emotions and as Dr. Bennett says, "There's no libido-killer worse than guilt and shame."

Personally, I felt more intimate and connected with my dh after going through childbirth.  It's like you are riding on all these emotional highs, the weeks after giving birth are some of the most connected I have ever felt with him.  There's also something about watching a guy cradle his newborn that's just really beautiful ;)  I never noticed any decrease in our sex life because of it.

Do/did you have fears about having your SO see you go through childbirth?  Are you worried about it or have you seen it affecting your sex life?   

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2006
Wed, 11-21-2012 - 4:20pm

It's interesting that the childbirth the author witnessed was a c-section. So what he actually witnessed was major abdominal surgury. I wonder if he would have felt any differently about a witnessing a vaginal birth?

Anyways, I agree with Christine's comment that we need to consider our partners' feelings and give them a chance to talk about them. However, I have to say that I feel the needs of the mom have to take precedence. If the labouring mom, like me, considers her partner to be her most important support person in the world, it's reasonable for her to expect that her partner will be there for one of the most challenging experiences of her life. It's not always pretty to be with your partner through major life events - such as illness or grief - but it's part of being a true life partner. (Not to mention the fact that, when it comes to childbirth, the partner could also have an important role in helping the labouring mom make decisions around interventions.) Having said that, I don't think there's anything wrong with a parnter negotiating what he's comfortable with - for example, staying near mom's head rather than actually watching the baby emerge.

My DH was up by my head when I gave birth to Benjamin, so he didn't really see him being born, but saw him when I did, when he was placed on my chest. Afterwards, DH told me that he consciously chose to be at my head rather than at the foot of the bed. And it worked for me - he was right where I could see and hear him. When we talked about it afterwards, I was surprised at how emotional the experience was for him (and not soley in a the joyful, new dad way). He said that despite his elation at becoming a dad, he couldn't call it the happiest day of his life, because there was a lot of stress for him that day, too, worrying about both baby and I coming through it okay (even though it was a healthly pregnancy and uncomplicated labour). He has also said many times how much he valued having our doula. All the doulas we interviewed said their role was to support us both, but I never guessed how much DH would value ours.

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Avatar for Cmmelissa
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
Mon, 11-12-2012 - 1:16pm
Totally agree that men shouldn't need to feel obligated to be there, if they truly can't handle the experience. It's probably better for mom to have someone that can really be in there supporting her, and the dad can wait outside the room. My DH was pretty much useless during our first labor experience. He was out of his element, really didn't know what to do or how to support me (along with not knowing what NOT to say!). He tried his best though :) He did much better the next two times around, was able to coach me through it and knew how to handle me when I couldn't focus. I'm not sure if my DH had a hard time watching me go through contractions, I'll have to ask him about that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2005
Sun, 11-11-2012 - 1:23pm

Interesting article...

It is a good thing that nowadays fathers can witness the birth of their children. It really helps the mother to know that her partner is right there with her. But something I've learned after talking ot other dads and moms is that having the right to be there has turned into an obligation. Guys feel they can't refuse, even if they find the whole experience something hard to stomach. I suppose it depends on the dad's personality and how he handles blood and pain in general.

Personally, I had all this "romantic" ideas before the birth of my first. I think deep down I wanted my husband to admire me for handling such a difficult and hard thing as labor and delivery.

What I learned after the birth of two kids is that although he does feel in awe about me handling the pain of labor, he also HATED IT.... Yes, you read right, He couldn't wait for it to be over, he says that seeing me suffer contraction after contraction was almost more than he could take, and didn't enjoy the experience at all. (until he could actually hold the babies, that part he did like:))

As for affecting our sex life... Honestly the hormonal cocktail of breastfeeding a baby had a much bigger impact on us (on me actually). But I can see how other guys could be traumatized about it for a while.

I suppose that women owe our partners the right to listen to their fears and axieties about birth. Every guy is different, and while some may want to be 100% involved, some would rather not, and perhaps we should be OK with that, you know?