Birth Thoughts

When Should Men NOT Attend Childbirth?

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With a name like Birth for Men, you can tell we are advocates for men preparing for and attending the birth of their own children. But depending on where they are in life, some men may actually not be an asset during the wonderful birth event. In this article, we’ll enumerate a few reasons why men might want to avoid the birth event, partially or altogether.

Keep in mind, every item on this list can (and should) be overcome with enough time and preparation. But if there are only days or weeks before the birth, some of these obstacles may be insurmountable in such a short time.

The Mother Does Not Want Him There

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Relationships are complex. If the father of the baby has not been committed and/or confident enough in other areas, the mother may have misgivings about having him around. The desires, expectations, and sense of well being of the mother are paramount during birth. If the father is prone to emotional outbursts or otherwise unstable he may put the birthing mother on edge. During birth, the mother must be completely at ease in every aspect of human existence as much as possible. At her sole discretion, a father that does not put her at ease may not be an asset during the birth.

This can be overcome weeks or months in advance by discussing the topic, specifically. There may be some things totally unrelated to birth that need to be brought up and worked out in order to instill confidence in the mother that the father is truly there for her. The father should engage in more selfless acts of love to help strengthen the relationship and increase the mother’s confidence in his competence and love.

The Man is Irrationally Terrified of Birth

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Even men have unique experiences. Often they put on a veneer of solidarity and confidence and fearlessness, but regardless every man is vulnerable to severe trauma, given the right (or wrong) circumstances. Trauma can lead to an irrational fear of birth or blood or pain that could debilitate him during the birth event.

And the fear of birth can be built up very subtly in the mind of a man as well, even without a solitary notable traumatic event. Perhaps his only experiences with birth throughout life have been cast in a negative or fearful light so that after many years he has been unconsciously taught that birth is something terrifying and completely outside of his control. Nothing could be further from the truth. Men can have a profound, powerful impact on birth. But if that is a totally foreign concept, then he won’t believe it or act as if it’s true.

This can be overcome in advance by recognizing the traumatic event (if there was one) and talking through it. Or perhaps ignore the traumatic event, and just build a whole bunch of positive birth-related events to drown it out. Whatever works. Watching specially selected, peaceful birth videos together with a confident birth educator is a good idea. That way he can ask questions as the video progresses.

The Man is Totally Unprepared

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Men don’t normally chit-chat about birth preparation! Sometimes a guy may have a good relationship with his wife, and not be especially afraid of birth, but he just has no clue whatsoever about what is going to happen or what he should (or could) be doing. Though, in some cases, that doesn’t matter too much. He can still simply be present – that oftentimes is good enough. But if the mother does have some expectations of support and the father is of no use, she may become frustrated and want him out.

This can be overcome by attending one of our online webinars and joining our Birth for Men community. Taking a full, in-person childbirth class is also a fantastic idea. The Bradley Method (R) is probably the most popular course specifically designed for men to help them coach their wives as they give birth.

The Man is Abusive

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Sometimes the mother doesn’t have enough confidence to even call out the fact that she doesn’t want the father present. Abuse can be a subtle, complicated problem and it is important for the friends and family members of the birthing woman to help identify an abusive relationship before the day of birth. They’ll need to use wisdom to develop a plan of action if the man insists on being present during the birth, even if the mother is too intimidated to say “No.”

This can be overcome by getting counseling for the man in advance, working on his lifestyle habits (such as diet, sleep schedules, hobbies, etc.), or separating the man and woman for a time. We don’t imagine that we can provide viable solutions for every abusive situation in one paragraph. This is by far the most difficult problem to overcome. But don’t lose hope!

Absolutely No Reason Whatsoever

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You see, birth is a funny thing. During actual labor and birth itself, the sentiments of the woman can and do change for the tiniest reasons (or for no reason at all). This is not a problem. In fact it is a fairly normal, common part of the birth process. She may want to be hot one moment, and cold the next. Maybe she loved her essential oils for the previous 4-8 hours of labor but all of a sudden she hates absolutely every smell in the world. Especially during the final transition period, the birthing mother may be overwhelmed with the sense that everything she is facing is impossible. It makes perfect logical sense that sentiments would change rapidly under those extreme emotional and physical circumstances.

Even if the mother agreed prior to the birth that the father should be there and participate, at any moment the mother may request that the father (or anyone else) leave the room immediately. Kicking people out should always be an option available to her. If she makes the request, that person should vacate immediately as though they just heard the voice of God.

Most women who have very good relationships with their husbands won’t make this request, so it’s not really something you need to prepare for. It can be overcome by building a really tight, trusting marital relationship during the good times and bad times throughout life. It can’t be overcome “in the moment” though, so don’t try.

What are some other times when men should avoid attending the birth? Let us know in the comments below!

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