Why dads should be in the delivery room

Menfolk shouldn't be missing when it comes time to give birth

Practical Parenting / July 18 2018

I imagine that watching a birth would be one of life’s most magnificent experiences. I’ve never seen a birth other than my own – and to be honest, my view wasn’t all that good – but I’m obsessed with watching births on TV. One Born Every Minute, a doco set in a British maternity hospital, has me weeping and in goosebumps as each baby pops out.

Even I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant has me teary in the birthing scenes and these are just re-enactments, performed by utterly lame actors. I have no doubt that the real thing would have me sobbing on the floor in sheer wonderment. 

A matter of support

Of course, the wonder of birth isn’t the only reason a father’s presence is important. Giving birth can be overwhelming, even frightening at times, and fathers can play a vital role acting as their partner’s support person. The father of my children performed this task admirably in two out of three of my births, comforting me when I was in pain and reassuring and calming me when I was scared.

Sadly with my second labour he was rather less helpful. He yelled frantically, “They’re not coming! No-one’s coming!” when I was begging for an anaesthetist and then cheered, “Fantastic! You’re going to push out the baby with no drugs!” when the anaesthetist didn’t come.

I know he was just trying to help, but I was in agony, desperate for that epidural and his cheery tones made me want to hit him.

Family ties

Still, despite his misplaced cheer, I wanted him there, not just for me, but for our babies. When our first two babies were born, he held them just moments after they were laid on my tummy.

Then, when my third baby was born by caesarean, he held our daughter before I did, as she was placed immediately in his arms while I was being stitched up. It wasn’t just about him bonding with his child, it was also about our first moments together as a family, and I wouldn’t have swapped that for anything.

Obviously it’s not always possible for the father to be in the birthing suite. What’s more, some men are just squeamish, and a fainting man is quite possibly worse than no man at all. However, in general, I think that men should try to be there, both as the supportive partner and as the prospective father.

After all, we’re the ones who carry the babies for nine long months. Being there as we bring that little person into the world is the least they can do.