Thursday, 14 March 2013

Should the father be present at the birth?

Yes. Yes he should.

But that wouldn't make for an interesting blog post, so this article discusses when and how it became almost mandatory for Dads to be present in the delivery room.

The piece is based on a fascinating project by Dr Laura King at the University of Leeds, 'Hiding in the pub to cutting the cord'. Apparently:

"It is very hard to find definitive statistics on this, but from the late 1960s to the late 70s it goes from a minority [of Dads being present at the birth] to something between 70-80%," says King.

In 1970s sitcom Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em, when Frank Spencer's daughter Jessica is born, he has to ask the doctor's permission to attend the birth. Dr King says that in the 1970s there were three different sets of feelings involved – the woman's, the man's and the medical profession's.

"There is a school of thought that said that doctors feel quite threatened by another presence in the room, another person who's asking questions about why they are doing what they're doing," says King. 

About 14% of fathers are still not able to attend the birth of their babies. Footballers (and former footballers) seem to be particularly reluctant.

For some this is no bad thing, with Dads even getting the blame for the increasing rate of Caesarian section births!

For the record, I wouldn't have missed the births of my two boys for the world. But my memories for them are pretty sketchy… the sound of a worryingly slow heartbeat filling the room, until the nurse helpfully informed us the machine might be on the blink… trips to the hospital shop to buy a range of Ginsters products (the whole thing made me strangely hungry)… slipping on blood… and the relief.

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