Here are some recent ramblings of an enlightened male, that will no doubt make mothers everywhere grind their teeth in annoyance.
According to Michael Odent – a medical expert and ‘childbirth specialist’ – fathers-to-be should no longer be present at the birth of their children, and should be banned from the delivery room. Apparently they make our time in labour longer, more painful and more stressful.
Oh, what a load of crap.
I believe it’s the trying to push and pass out something the size of a bloody melon that is the cause of all the pain and stress, not having the father sat beside us in the room. Something that Mr Odent would know if he was to give it a go. Oh that’s right, he can’t, he’s a man.
Now I can only speak for myself, and the 22 hours in total I’ve spent in labour, but having my husband in the room helped, not hindered the situation. He made the time go faster by talking to me, making me laugh and occasionally laughing at me (as he winched me on and off the birthing ball). He fetched me reading material and fluids, and let me wrap my fingernails so snugly around the bones in his arm I left scars, without making so much as a whimper.
For me, high as a kite on gas and air, the time actually passed quite quickly. For him, unable to escape from my vice gripe long enough to even let the blood flow back into his fingertips, the time must have practically stood still.
His one very stupid idea of offering me a Jaffa cake half way through a contraction aside, my husband was an absolute god send, and made an otherwise traumatic occasion much more bearable. The thought of having had to go through that without him there doesn’t even bear thinking about.
So I really don’t care if Mr Odent has been ‘involved for more than 50 years in childbirth’. He hasn’t been there. Or got the t-shirt, weakened bladder or stretch marks to prove it. So with all due respect, he should butt out and stop trying to fix something that isn’t broken. Recommending that a woman should give birth with only a silent midwife in the room is like suggesting an operation should be done without the general anesthetic – just because it might speed up the recovery time. Would Mr Odent particularly like to be sliced and diced whilst awake I wonder?
Of course midwives do a great job – my last one was lovely, if my somewhat hazy memory serves me right – but they can’t give you what you need while your pelvis splits in half and your pain levels go off the Richter scale. At a time when all dignity has left the room and you’re freaked out and panicking, you don’t need polite chit-chat with a strange woman between your legs, as she grapples with a slippery crowning head. You need a familiar face and the reassurance of the person who got you into this painful bloody mess in the first place.
The other, even more laughable observation made by Mr Odent, is that watching your wife give birth can ultimately lead to divorce. I’m sorry. Is this man for real? What he’s really saying is if a man is subjected to seeing his wife laid out on a table like a birthing cow, then he will ultimately be put off having sex with her again, and as a result, have no choice but to throw in the towel and his wedding ring.
Now THAT is the saddest excuse in the history of marriages for a man being forced to leave his wife. It’s actually justifying why a man can jump ship and run off with a younger, un-stretched, child-free model. If there’s a Mrs Odent out there, you must be so proud – and so very paranoid.
Generally speaking, the man who gets you pregnant already knows (or should already know) you inside out. If, after the birth, he literally knows you inside out, then that, unfortunately, is one of the side effects of procreation.
To say that men can’t stomach the sight of their wife in labour or that they will ‘stop feeling a sexual attraction towards them’, is an insult to husbands everywhere. It’s certainly an insult to woman to say that we’re no longer seen as anything other than a piece of reproducing meat after the birth.
If woman had their way, Mr Odent, we wouldn’t be forced to watch our husbands belch, scratch, itch and fart beside us on the sofa every night. None of these manly qualities really puts us ‘in the mood’ you know, but you don’t see us all rushing to file for divorce and citing these disgusting habits on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.
Really, fancy telling us we should be giving birth in silence and on our own. Are you recruiting for the Church of Scientology by any chance? Next you’ll be saying that pain relief is illegal and Enya is no longer a suitable birthing artist.
For a father to be made to miss out on seeing his child born would be a terrible thing. Not only because he wouldn’t get to experience the incredible rush of euphoria when meeting your 5 second old offspring for the first time, but because for the rest of his life he would be forever reminded by his wife, that not only did she have to do all of the work, but that he wasn’t even there to hold her hand at the end.
And that, Mr Odent, is the part you seem to have forgotten. Woman want their men there with them at this time. Not just to offer them support and a back rub, but so that they can see first hand just how much pain childbirth involves. This way, regardless of how many bins are put out or paychecks earned, the man will always know that he owes something to his wife that can never be repaid.
Call it an unfair advantage in the guilt stakes, but childbirth is the one bit of power we woman still hold in this world. Don’t you dare try and take that away from us.