Should Dads Be in the Delivery Room?

should dads be in the delivery room?A recent article in the Huffington Post brought up a question that many modern parents probably thought had already been put to rest in the 70s: Should dads be in the delivery room?

Trends surrounding childbirth tend to follow a pendulum swing. From the days when women endured natural childbirth because there was no other way, to knocking women out with ether while their baby was delivered, to natural childbirth, to the height of C-section popularity. Birth experiences even vary widely within one  mother’s experience with multiple children. One thing is certain: there is no one right way to have a baby, for any couple. For that reason, the trend of having dads in the delivery room may well be worth re-examining. Many people also consider allowing siblings to be present during birth, and these are worthwhile considerations for that decision, too.

Here are a few points to consider when deciding how to wrap your head around how childbirth might go for you and your spouse:

  • Birth is a stressful situation, even when everything goes textbook perfect. It may be hard for your partner to see you in pain and not be able to help. Consider how you each react to the other’s stress, and what impact that might have on the labor process. Relaxation and oxytocin help speed labor up, while stress and cortisol slow labor down.
  • Would other people (in addition to your spouse) in the delivery room make the situation worse or better? A doula might be helpful for facilitating involvement. Other family, like adult siblings and parents may or may not help, too.
  • Does your spouse handle needles and/or blood OK? it’s possible that they may need to leave during certain parts, like administering an IV or epidural, and return when it’s over.
  • Consider where your spouse might stand during delivery that might allow them to offer support but not be overwhelmed.
  • Think about decisions like whether or not they want to help catch or cut the cord ahead of time.
  • Birthing classes can be helpful at giving your spouse helpful suggestions for how to assist during labor.

My husband passed out at the sight of needles and would shut down in a stressful situation, so we worked with a doula from early on in my pregnancy. She tagged him in on and off during labor, allowing him time to help and also get away during the process since it was long and overwhelming, and I felt safer knowing I would still have support if he needed medical attention.  I also decided no one but us and the doula would be at the birth. I had never really thought about this until I got pregnant, but once I did, there was no question. I knew additional family and the associated travel plans–on an unknown timeline, no less–would be stressful for me. It was disappointing for some, but I held my ground. It was one of the first times I felt a mother instinct.

In the end, only you as a couple can decide what’s best for your family. You may end up making some unconventional choices, or at the very least, not making the choices you imagined you would before you got pregnant. If you think family or friends will not be supportive of those choices, you can choose not to discuss the topic with them. Remember, it’s your body, and your birth. This is a time to be selfish and think about your health and what’s best for you.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

 

Tags: boundaries, childbirth, decisions, delivery room, partner, spouse

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