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Men's role in childbirth: Wikis


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The role of men in childbirth in the Western world is becoming more involved than it has been in the past. More women are wanting their male partners to give active assistance during the pregnancy and childbirth.




United States

Until the concluding decades of the 18th century, a nurse midwife, who was considered to be very knowledgeable about the birth process, delivered a woman's baby. Birth took place in the home, and it was considered to be an event for females. It was a time for female friends and relatives to come into the home and care for the mother, her household, provide reassurance, and offer guidance. Birth was not considered to be a private event, but more of a social one, that created a strong bond among women.

By the mid-18th century, many US citizens began to travel to Great Britain to receive medical training. Physicians warned that it was dangerous not to receive medical attention while delivering children. They also stated one in every thirty women was expected to die because of a lack of medical attention. Due to these warnings, many women favored going into labor with a physician as opposed to a midwife. Physicians prohibited friends and relatives from participating. The birth process was seen as embarrassing to the patient as well as to the doctor. Around 1910, some states began to outlaw the midwifery practice. Others enacted regulatory requirements which were almost impossible for many midwives to complete. Since the 1920s, physicians have almost exclusively helped women deliver their children. However, midwifery is becoming more common once again. Although it is still most common for physicians to help deliver babies, it is now very common for women to have their families, particularly their husbands, in the delivery room with them.

To help their wives prepare for childbirth, many male partners participate in specialized classes, such as Lamaze. Men may give active assistance during childbirth by simply being present during his wife's labor. Many women find their partners' presence in the delivery room to be comforting.


Until the early 1960s men were excluded from the labour room. However, during this decade there was an increasing pressure on hospitals to allow men into the labour room to provide support for their partners. It was only by the 1980s that it became common and expected that men would be present when their partners gave birth. The contemporary Australian experience is that men are expected to be present and support their partners, regardless of whether they feel capable of doing so.[1]

Factors affecting husband's aid during pregnancy and delivery

Many women find it soothing to have someone assist them during their pregnancies, making it more common for a woman's male partner to support her both before and during childbirth. The type and quality of a relationship between a man and a woman is what determines how, and if, the man will be active during his partner’s pregnancy.

Fear and anxiety

Some contend that when men are fearful or anxious regarding birth that they actually make the birth more difficult for their partner. Their fear is 'transmitted' to their partner and this increases her adrenaline levels leading to labor stalling. This then requires the use of oxytocin to restart labor and thus may lead to the cascade of intervention that ends in a caesarean section.[1]



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