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Thread: Birth: DH doesn't want to attend

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Birth: DH doesn't want to attend


    DH and I have had an ongoing disagreement about him being present at birth.

    We are having IVF (recently started) and aren't even pregs yet but apparently have good chances.

    DH thinks its not a good idea for him to be there as he wouldn't be able to help and would have no role and is happy to 'wait outside'.

    Any thoughts/suggestions?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Gippsland Vic


    I think your DH is getting a bit scared, the reality is this might actually work and he is thinking about everythinbg and wondering if he would be able to cope?

    I think this is very normal and you will probably find that when you fall pregnant he has some freaking out moments as well. My suggestion would be find some else who you would like present at the birth as a support person and give DH some breathing room, you will find he if he thinks he is not the only person you are relying on he will be heaps more relaxed. He needs to know he can leave the room if he is'nt coping or he needs a break. I have put myself in these shoes and wonder if the going got tough, how I would cope and I am a woman.
    You will most likely find if he has the option of a rest/emotional/physical break he probablly won't need or use it.

    Good luck on your journey, try not to worry tooo much, one baby step at a time, he'lll get used to the idea!!!!!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia


    I'd give it some time, you have a long journey ahead and all the excitement of kicks and things like that.

    But, if he really, really doesn't want to be there, it's best that he's not.

    Men only started being in the birth room from the 1970's - its not their traditional role. While we love them to bits and it's wonderful if they can be there, a partner with you in labour who is freaked out, uncomfortable or doesn't want to be there can be detrimental to the labour. You may end up feeling paniced in labour yourself, angry, deflated, unsupported and just want out with some pain relief so you don't have to deal with it all.

    If he strongly doesn't want to be there, then thank him for being honest and find yourself some reliable support like a doula who will embrace the birth and what comes with it. That way you will feel nurtured, supported and your partner will be just outside. I know it's hard when they admit they aren't comfortable with it, but men just aren't programmed or normally experienced at birth, and it can have huge effects when they don't really want to be there.

    I know it's really upsetting, but if he decides to stick to his plans, I am sure you will find a doula or independent midwife you will love and have a great relationship with her. Wouldn't you rather a loving and nurturing birth than an anxious and stressful one? If hubby changes his mind during the birth he can still come in and you have good support either way. Be kind to him and be kind to you.

    You also might like to get him a copy of the book, 'Men At Birth,' by David Vernon, which is a collection of men's stories about how they felt at birth. It's in the BB store.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    Follow me in 2015 as I go Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team and many wonderful members who have been so supportive since 2003.

  4. #4
    paradise lost Guest


    It is likely that when you are nearing the end of your pregnancy the squirming person inside your bump he has felt and talked to, rubbed during hiccups and been kicked in the back by in bed will feel very much like his baby and he will want to be there.

    Medicalised birth (and AC i'm sure) can make both parents but ESPECIALLY the dad feel their role is limited and they'll be "in the way" or "do it wrong". Don't worry too much about this fear now, but as your belly grows impress upon him how important he is to you.

    No matter HOW well you know your midwife or doula, even if they're your mum, your partner will know you better. Who else has seen you in the throes of powerful physical sensations (sex and birth are part of the same process, it's undeniable)? Who else touches you lovingly and intimately every day (massage can be SO helpful during labour)? Yes, a doula is a welcome addition and if the father just can not be there for whatever reason being well-supported is incredibly important, but in the vast majority of cases, when a loving couple have set out to have a baby, there is no-one better to support you both than one another.

    And if you really feel you want him there you need to be honest with him about it. I have had friends who said "you should WANT to be there" or "but it's YOUR baby too" when what their husbands needed to hear was the truth "I feel vulnerable, i NEED you". The woman felt the man didn't care about her, was abandoning her to the work alone, the man felt his fears were being judged and he himself was being judged a Bad Father because he didn't understand her need of him and she didn't understand his fears. If your DH feels eclipsed by the whole deal then it is only knowledge and confidence he lacks. Tell him you need him and help him to discover the things he and uniquely he, can do to help you when you're bringing your child to earth.

    My own XP was neglectful before the birth and emotionally almost utterly absent afterwards but during my labour he was a rock to cling to, a ship to carry me to safety, a place to hide. I wouldn't have wanted to do it without him. To prepare he read Spiritual Midwifery (Ina May Gaskin - there are a lot of birth stories which was what he found handy) and Sheila Kitzinger's Birth Your Way, there is a chapter for fathers-to-be, and he listened to me when i told him what i wanted. We talked about various things, the most important of which was what to do during transition. XP is a panicker, he is rubbish in a crisis, and yet this man, when i was leaning over the edge of the bath in our flat (we had a homebirth) SCREAMING for an ambulance and an epidural, because i was in transition, sat calmly by me and told me factually that i was doing fine and he wasn't calling an ambulance. He was still by me in this calm state as our daughter unexpectedly crowned and if she'd come ONE contraction sooner it would have been him and not the midwife who caught her!

    Men were pushed out of the delivery room shortly after the invention of the forceps and the rise of "obstetric" birth mainly because men objected to doctors putting metal tools inside their women and "got in the way". Up until then men, who often delivered the young of their livestock, were a welcome addition to the birthing room and were often the only midwives there. Most people kept animals and knew how birth worked. Husbands went for the midwife (usually an older woman) only when things were going wrong or taking a long time, because midwives often had extensive herbal knowledge (hence "boil me some water"). There are many many references to husbands delivering their own children in mediaeval annals. There are also many traditional societies where men are welcome at a birthing and several north african and south american tribes where only the woman's partner is allowed to touch her during the birthing, there the midwife only looks and talks, does not touch.

    Medicalisation of birth has taken men's roles from them. It is doing a pretty good job of taking WOMEN'S roles from them too! Reassure him and yourself, if you're getting through IVF, birth will be a-ok.


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Perth, WA


    I agree with the others, there's plenty of time and he's probably a bit overwhelmed by it all. We had this discussion as well - in the end I told M what he needed to know (leaving out the really gory bits!) and that I really needed him to be there for me. I think he surprised himself with the support he was able to give me and he even cut Sebastian's cord! Not something I think he would ever have considered previously!

    Don't feel as if he's letting you down if in the end he doesn't want to be there. It can be traumatic to experience if it's not you who's experiencing the birth, iykwim - when S was crowning and the midwife had to help his head out, I was screaming like I've never screamed before and M said all he wanted to do was to come over and push her away and stop her from hurting me... he said the sound of me screaming stayed with him for days afterwards

    However, he's coming to this one too! In the end you want people there who can support you, so if not your DH, then a friend or doula or a private midwife, someone who can take that role for you. Once you have made that decision, you might find he's willing to be there too.

  6. #6



    My now ex husband, did not want to be in the room for the birth of our first son either. In his case it was purely selfish reasons. I made him be there and had my mother there as well. With mum being there he was able to get out for small breaks. My labour was 20 hrs so sitting in a room with a noisy woman in pain for that long would probably get a bit tiresome He also swore he was not going near the "business end". But as our son was crowning, the midwife asked for help pulling him out. My mum left the room (on purpose) so he had no choice but to help. Afterwards he said it was the most amazing feeling to help his son into the world.

    So perhaps if you can have someone there to give him a break from time to time, he might be a bit more open to it?
    Last edited by mnmum; March 25th, 2008 at 07:46 PM.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    Thank you everyone for your wonderful replies. There really is wisdom in the world.

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