Pregnancy involvement damages dads' confidence

*Lisa* - posted on 06/01/2010 ( 28 moms have responded )

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UK researcher says dads should stay out of the delivery room and leave pregnancy to their partners.
June 1, 2010
Fathers-to-be who play an active role during their partner's pregnancy lose their parenting confidence because they feel like a failure, a UK researcher claims.

Dr Jonathan Ives from the Centre for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Birmingham is the lead researcher on a two-year study titled The Moral Habitus of Fatherhood, evaluating the philosophy and sociology of fatherhood, the UK's Guardian reported.

Men who attend antenatal classes and attend the birth of their child can emotionally shut down when they realise the only role they can really play during pregnancy and birth is a passive role supporting their partner, Dr Ives told the Guardian.

"Having begun the fathering role already feeling a failure may destroy his confidence," Dr Ives said.

"It can then be very difficult for him to regain faith in himself once the baby is born and move from that passive state to being a proactive father. His role in the family is no longer clear to him. He effectively becomes deskilled as a parent and this can lead to problems bonding with the child."

In the last two decades men have been encouraged to become more involved in their partner's pregnancy, but Dr Ives said this is "deskilling" men as fathers. Instead, he suggested men do not attend antenatal classes and do not attend the birth, staying outside until after their child has been safely delivered.

Playing a part in either of these elements of their child's gestation and birth caused men to feel helpless, Dr Ives said.

What do you think about this???

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Amanda - posted on 06/03/2010

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Yeah, I would like to see what that guy has to say after having conversations with men in the military and others like them that COULDN'T be there for the birth, not by their choice too... my husband barely made it back in time and was so scared he wouldn't, because he was gone pretty much my whole pregnancy and he felt like a jerk for making me go thru that "all alone" much less giving birth by myself, even though I was with my whole family. Luckily, he did make it back, and drove all the way from VA to CT as soon as I called to tell him I was in labor, and he will be here this time till about 2 months after my due date so he won't miss it this time either. :) I can understand feeling helpless a bit while your wife/girlfriend is going thru so much pain and whatnot, but I don't see how you could think you are a failure by being there to support your woman in one of her biggest times of need.

Tania - posted on 06/01/2010

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Are you kidding me? I would say suck it up and grow a pair. They are there as a support system for their partner and its not about them anyway :P

[deleted account]

This definitely was not the case in our family. My husband LOVED every second of the birth of our daughter. He watched the whole thing and was so supportive. He can't even express in words how amazing it was to see our daughter come into this world. I watched him turn into a Dad right before my eyes. He didn't have much baby experience, but he knew what to do. He did all the diaper changes at the hospital to let me rest. If I wasn't holding her he would bring her to me to nurse. It was a wonderful experience. I can't imagine him not being there and I know he would say the same.



Men don't have to feel helpless. They can stay involved by communicating with the nurses and doctors, helping mom move around, supporting her. My mom was with me too, but I would've hated it if my husband wasn't with me. I can't imagine being in labor surrounded by strangers. The best way to get through labor is to have a great support team. My husband was a huge part of that. If the dads don't go to the prenatal class and attend the birth then what part are they there for? Just making the baby? lol

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28 Comments

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Carolee - posted on 06/07/2010

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I told my husband that he needs to let me know BEFOREHAND if he doesn't want to be in the room for the birth. My ex (my son's bio father) was holding my leg during delivery. He decided, mid-push, to suddenly let go of my leg so he could "get a glass of water". I had an epidural, and my leg flopped down, which made everybody yell at him! I said some things in Spanish that he didn't even know I knew (he was from Mexico City)!!! I'm thankful nobody else in the room could understand me...

*Lisa* - posted on 06/07/2010

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I don't think anyone should be forced either. As in your friend's case, if he can't stand the sight of blood, it would have been traumatic for him! As long as the mum feels supported in all other areas, then it's between them what happens in the delivery room. But I don't think the article is right in saying that it damages them as men and fathers if they do go into the delivery room.

Charlie - posted on 06/06/2010

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I think if a father wants to be ther then great but if a father for whatever reason cant or wont watch then they should not be forced to against their will nor should they be made to feel guilty or less of a man for not doing so , what counts is how they perform as a father after the birth .

I was lucky to have a fiance who wanted to be by my side but i also know someone who couldn't watch , he is terrified of blood to the point where it would have been traumatizing to see his wife in pain , he is a great father and not being in the room had no affect on his fathering skills .

I dont see why any one should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable , birth isnt for everyone , im a little shocked at how dismissive of mens feelings a lot of people are .

Sherri - posted on 06/06/2010

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The biggest bunch of malarchy I have ever heard. My husband wouldn't have dreamed of not being there for any of the 3 of my childrens or I without him.

[deleted account]

With my first pregnancy my husband was there in the nitty gritty of it because it was taking so damn long (4 hrs straight pushing) our fill-in doc. didn't even show up until the last 20-30mins to tell me we'd have had him out earlier if we did an episiotomy, as if I would have had a damn issue w/that??? Dumb doc shoulda been there earlier we coulda had him out 3.5hrs ealier if she'd told me that!

The 2nd preg. he mighta felt a little out of the loop? But he was the only other one there aside from the doctor and nurse so he really couldn't have been more in the loop if we tried? I also think he held both children first and cut both umbilical cords...he went through the 1st birth and insisted upon being there for the 2nd so after the horrible 4 hr hell it must not have scared him bad enough that we even made a 2nd child let alone another delivery he attended and stayed in the hosp. for!

Rosie - posted on 06/03/2010

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my husband said the men who were in this study apparantly needed mental help before they knocked up their partners. CRAZY!

Alison - posted on 06/03/2010

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The birth of our first was the absolute most thrilling moment of my husband's entire life! This study is BUNK. I cannot believe somebody actually paid for it!

Jane - posted on 06/02/2010

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I think that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I thank God my then husband, now ex-husband (he's a good guy) was there. Without him, I would have lost it. He felt like he was truly my hero and he was. I bet this doctor felt that way and that was the basis of his study. Dumb, dumb, dumb!!!!

*Lisa* - posted on 06/02/2010

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My husband did feel overwhelmed being in the birth because he wished he could help but he said it was the best experience ever. He'd heard a lot of horror stories of men fainting etc but he loved it. He couldn't be there for the ante-natal classes because we were in separate countries (work related). He was really bummed about that. He wanted to be there for everything. I hate how the article says 'Men who attend antenatal classes and attend the birth of their child can emotionally shut down when they realise the only role they can really play during pregnancy and birth is a passive role supporting their partner,'... THAT IS AN IMPORTANT ROLE!! This guy is making light of the father's job. And who hasn't felt overwhelmed and lost confidence in their role as a parent? Heck I do everyday. I think it would be even harder for the father to bond with the child if he is not there during the birth. It's such a precious moment.

Amy - posted on 06/02/2010

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Personally I would never want to give birth with out my husband by my side. I need him there for me, he plays a very important role in helping even if he's not the one pushing the baby out.

I do see how it could "seem" that way in some cases. When our son was first born, and I picked him up and breastfeed my husband was amazed at how "natural" it seemed for me. That's what seemed to make him feel a little overwhelmed, the fact that the after part came so natural to me. After a few days though he was a champ, and to this day an amazing stay at home dad (who I think might even do a better job at that than I would).

Chelle - posted on 06/02/2010

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i think that if my partner didnt see his daughters born and support me through my labour he would feel like failure. i think he had a great sence of self pride knowing he had been there for me when i needed him most and i feel as though seeing both his girls come into the world helped him greatly bonding with them.

[deleted account]

I believe it. I don't see any good reason to have my husband present in the delivery room anyway. He would have been more of a hindrance than a help.

Suzette - posted on 06/01/2010

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Yeah, my husband doesn't agree either. His mother was very ill after he was born and for the first 2 weeks he only had his grandparents and aunts and uncles. (His Dad was working SO much that he was around when he could be, but it was 2 jobs and then to see his son and then his wife.)

My husband will be in the delivery room with me because he wants to be, and because I told him he will be, LOL!

I agree, this idiot doesn't have children, he obviously has no clue what he's talking about. I believe the bonding experience with the father starts from the time they conceive the child. My husband has been talking to our daughter from the time we knew we were pregnant. He kisses the tummy every day, at least twice if not more, and he talks to her all the time. :)

Sarah - posted on 06/01/2010

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I don't know how "passive" my husband's role really was. Way I remember it, I was crushing his hands and screaming and he was babbling some nonsense about breathing! LOL Truly though, I can't imagine doing that without him, he was an amazing coach- he got me through it! And afterwards, our Zoe had to go to the NICU and I wasn't allowed to go b/c I had spiked a fever. For the first 12 hours, she only had her Daddy!!
This idiot doctor clearly doesn't have any children!

Amy - posted on 06/01/2010

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My husband wasn't there for the first one but he was there for the other three. I told him he helped make this child he was going to help get it out. If that meant standing there and letting me crush his hand with every contraction. He said it was hard seeing me in pain but knwing what the end result is was exciting and he wouldn't have missed it for the world. He got to hold all three before I did.

Amanda - posted on 06/01/2010

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I don't care if it's true or not, my husband WILL be in the room with me lol and so will my mommy :)

LaCi - posted on 06/01/2010

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I don't think you should force a man out of it, but I don't think you should force him into being there either. With my boyfriend and I, we both agreed to leave him in the waiting room. I was having a c-section, and honestly wanted my mom there as she'd already been there and done that. He didn't really want to be in the room, he was far too anxious and I think he would have freaked me out. He would have been there had I wanted him to be though. I don't think being there or not being there made any difference at all in his parenting abilities, he would have been a great daddy regardless. I just think my c-section would have been far more stressful with him in the room ;) and that's all it would have effected.

Amber - posted on 06/01/2010

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My boyfriend wanted to be an active part of everything. Had I told him he couldn't be there, he would have been devastated.
He actually works at the hospital I gave birth at and wanted to be the one who delivered the baby. I said not a chance in hell haha, I wanted him coaching me, not attending to me as an outside player :)
I agree with Sara, you need a support team that you are comfortable with. It's stressful enough without leaving the person who is supposed to be your teammate in the hallway.

Maybe some men can't handle it, but how do you know that they would have felt any different had they not been in the room? Maybe it's parenthood that makes them feel like failures and has nothing to do with playing an active part in the pregnancy....

[deleted account]

I can believe it to an extent. BECAUSE I felt like a failure after the birth of my daughter.

She was breech and I had to have an emergency c-section. I was okay with that, but then I literally could not move to pick her up or change her and whatnot. My husband did all that the first two days.

I was content still because I was the only one able to feed her. Then on the second day she wouldn't latch. I turned into a crazy person! I cried all day and said I was the worst mother in the world because I couldn't have her correctly (like there is a correct way...lol) change her diaper, pick her up without help, or even feed her! I was useless! She didn't need me!

THANK GOD she latched the third day and I was sane again!

So, yes, I can see how a father could feel useless, because I had those feelings when my daughter's father was doing 'MY' job.

However, it depends on the father. My husband did great during the birth. But then again, he immediately took over caring for her, because I couldn't.

Sarah - posted on 06/01/2010

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This will give my husband great ammunition for not being at the birth of our eldest! hahaha!

I don't think there's much truth in it really, men can only do so much during pregnancy, and i think the things they can do ie. antenatal classes, going to scans, being at the birth, should be done. So long as they WANT to do it, then why not? :)

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