Back in the old days it was simple. Dads weren't there for the birth of their child.
They used to either pace the corridors of the hospital or in many cases even wait down the local pub, where there was a phone and possibly more importantly, some liquid encouragement.
Nowadays things have almost turned turtle and believe it or not over 90% of Dads are present for the birth of their children. This change has happened over a relatively short time. Why is this?
Reasons to be at the BirthThere are obviously various reasons for a Dad to decide to be with his partner at the birth of their child and these are just a few:
ReassuranceMany mums feel that their partner's presence during the birth reassures and relaxes them. Just having a familiar and loving hand to hold makes a big difference to how they feel and therefore how they act and react.
Distant FamilyYears ago it was common for several generations of a family to live close to each other. Nowadays, with the improvements in travel and communications and the need to relocate for the benefit of a career it is not uncommon for parents and siblings to live a long way apart from each other. Whereas previously it was common for mothers and sisters to be present and to help at the birth, it is far less common now.
CommunicationYou can help your partner communicate with the medical professionals. It's not uncommon for a Mum to be unable to speak during parts of her labour. Her partner, knowing the birth plan, can help with this and will be better attuned to her likes and wants.
She may simply want you to just be thereAs well as your wishes, your partner might simply want you to be part of the whole experience so that she can reminisce and share the experience in the future.
To Witness The BirthChildbirth is a fantastic experience for everyone involved. It is nothing short of amazing! It is one moment in your life you will never ever forget for the rest of your life.
Reasons to not be thereHowever, what about deciding NOT to be there? There may be genuine reasons why your absence might be preferable:
You could actually make things more difficult for herIf you are really stressed or anxious then that will almost certainly rub-off on her and make the whole birth process more fraught and more difficult.
The messGiving birth is a messy old business! Blood, amniotic fluid, wee, poo and whatever else. Will this change forever the way you see your partner and will it affect your sexual attraction toward her in the future? There's no evidence to say it will, but there are many Dads who have said it had a profound effect and completely changed the way they saw their partner after the birth of a child.
Gut FeelingSomething deep inside you may be telling you that it's better that you're not there. It's every Dad's choice whether to be there or not. If you feel that it's just not right, then perhaps it's best that you follow your heart.
Deciding in AdvanceIf you do decide to be present at the birth, talk things through with your partner before the day and decide in advance what your role will be. Is it just to comfort and reassure or will you be playing a more active part by helping the midwife and being more hands-on?