Should Your Husband Be In the Delivery Room?

Parents have much to think about when preparing for the birth of a baby. Each step of the process requires a considerable degree of research and decision making. The delivery itself is a complicated series of decisions that should be made well in advance of the baby’s due date in order to facilitate a smooth experience for everyone involved. Parents do not always consider whether or not the father should be present in the delivery room and are surprised to encounter the question too late to make a thoroughly informed choice. Understanding this question will help you make the decision well in advance so that there are no unresolved concerns when the happy moment finally arrives.

A Closer Look at a Sensitive Question

The presence of the father in the delivery room can bring up some very strong feelings in people. These feelings are based on personal convictions about a father’s role in the birth process. Some people feel that giving birth is the mother’s job alone and that the father’s presence will be a distraction. On the other hand, some people see the presence of the father in the delivery room as a strong show of parental responsibility and a way that men can support their partners.

Fathers sometimes leave the matter up to the mother to decide simply because they do not want to make intrusive requests. Lacking specific input, mothers may be left to decide on behalf of their partners without really knowing his feelings on the matter. Communication is an important part of making this decision and of crafting the kind of birth experience you really want to have.

Gathering Information

The expectant mother and father can consider speaking with other new parents about their birth experiences and about how they felt about the father’s delivery room presence – or absence. This can reveal aspects of the birth experience that you may not have considered and can shed some helpful light on a subject that is not always very well-explained in books or childbirth films.

Getting information from people who share similar values can also help you clarify your own thoughts and feelings on the matter, which will help you communicate effectively with your birth coordinator, including any nurses you are working with. You can also look for information in places such as:

  • Online newsgroups
  • Social media groups for expectant parents
  • Books about new parenthood
  • Experienced midwives

 A Father’s Helpful Presence

Knowing that he will soon be a father brings up all kinds of emotions for men. As well as feeling proud and excited, men are also likely to feel nervous and unsure of how to step into this responsibility. Many men feel that their first duties as a father are to be present for the birth of their child and to support their partner during labor. Therefore, it seems only logical to them that they would want to be an immediate part of this important moment.

Women too often feel that the presence of their partner is a supportive and helpful aspect of the childbirth experience. Knowing that they are loved and cared for will help ease the anxiety of the process; in the midst of all those unfamiliar faces there is one person who she knows and trusts.

If a father is present in the delivery room, he can advocate for his partner’s wishes regarding the birth experience. Even the best-run hospitals and birth centers can miss important details of the mother’s wishes regarding childbirth; the father can helpfully assert the mother’s needs and make sure that patient care remains a top priority. Should the mother be unable to express her own wishes, someone with the ability to make medical decisions can speak up.

Significantly, fathers often want to see their new babies as soon as possible. Being present in the delivery room lets them be part of this very special moment and gives them a glimpse of their new child right away. This is the beginning of a brand new part of their life and men understandably want to be standing next to their partners when the birth occurs.

Keeping His Distance

If there are so many reasons why a father might want to be present in the delivery room, why do men choose to stay away? In some cases, men stay away from the delivery room because their partners ask them to.

Women are not always comfortable with the idea of going through labor in front of someone they know so intimately. They may feel more at ease with the idea of being surrounded by experienced medical professionals who know what to expect and will not be judgmental about the processes. Even though any number of men would be quick to assure their partners that they are not squeamish or nervous about seeing women in this position, many women are still anxious and so choose to ask their partners to stay outside.

Men are often nervous at the prospect of seeing lots of blood – this is a very common anxiety and it effects just about everyone to some degree. Childbirth is a bloody business, much more so than fathers might realize. Feeling nauseated or faint is a typical reaction that unfortunately can complicate the father’s presence in the delivery room. Doctors and nurses have to stay focused on the person giving birth and should probably not be distracted by someone who is experiencing distress at the sight of so much blood and pain.

Seeing a loved one in pain is something that no one wants to experience but childbirth is by nature a very painful experience. Fathers understand that women must be very brave and strong to face this challenge but may anticipate serious feelings of distress at the prospect of being present for that suffering.

Mother holding her newborn baby child after labor in a hospital

Mother holding her newborn baby child after labor in a hospital

Crafting Your Birth Experience

Expectant parents will need to consider this question well in advance of the child’s birth in order to have all important details in place. If your ideal birth experience cannot be accommodated by any of the standard hospitals in your area, working with a midwife or other birth coordinator can be very helpful. You may discover that there are additional options that you had not considered. No matter what, you can feel certain that the father is going to be a very important part of delivering a baby.

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