How fathers (unwittingly) hinder birth
Whenever I talk about the role of the Birth Partner, I always remind couples that men get a pretty rough deal from birth too. They have even less knowledge of the female reproductive system than we do (whatever they like to think....). And they too have been receiving messages since their teens that pregnancy is to be avoided, that it damages and dimishes women, that Birth, de facto, =Suffering
Not only that, but pregnancy & birth is an overwhelmingly female field. All bar two of the midwives I know are women. Every single one of the hypnobirthing practitioners, NCT teachers, pre-natal yoga instructors, doulas & reflexologists I know are women. It's only when we reach the serried ranks of obstetricians, anaesthetists and paediatricians that men become more present. I wonder if this gender imbalance might also reflect men's natural instinct to take ACTION in order to improve a situation? Action isn't always congruous with birth, though, and can in fact inhibit it.
There's a clear cultural expectation that men should be willing and effective birth partners. But honestly, where can they go to find out what that really means? Who can he talk to about the real practicalities, risks and benefits? How can he prepare?
Honestly, lots of men engage in pregnancy at too superficial a level. They can't truly understand that when women talk about home birth it isn't because they want to go rogue, to put their baby at risk simply because they prefer their own bath & bed. What they want is to feel safe, secure, trusted & respected.
The result is that sometimes men unwittingly collude in coercing their partners into a birth environment that is what's expected, rather than what's best. Not because they're dicks, but because they value their partners & babies so highly that instinct, intensity, the unknown, the sheer raw, previously unseen power of the whole thing becomes just too scary.
This is another, often completely overlooked, benefit of taking the time to TALK to your partner about birth plans. Setting time aside to really think about the practicalities, opportunities & contingencies is so important because it can raise some issues that otherwise remain unsaid.
BIG thanks to @gloriapizilli for creating this GORGEOUS image