A pregnancy is for two people. The father may be present during each stage, the ultrasound examinations, the antenatal classes, preparation of the room and choosing the baby's first name … or simply to support and assist his partner. It is thus natural for him to be present at the birth of his baby. Each person is free to choose his way of participating in the birth.
An essential role and a personal choice
Being present at the birth of his child, hearing his first cry, being able to take him into his arms during the first minutes - some fathers would not miss this for anything in the world. But it should be remembered that this is not always an easy moment. Fear of not knowing how to handle the situation when his partner is in pain, the sight of blood and medical intervention, stress, etc. are all factors that may have been disregarded before.
Everything depends on the sensitivity of all concerned: there is no reason to apportion any blame! In all cases, having a calm father-to-be in the corridor is better than a completely panicky father-to-be in the labour ward. In some cases, it may also be the mother who prefers not to have her partner present during the birth.
When the father is attending the birth …
His mission is to support the mother-to-be both physically and psychologically. That might mean reassuring her, giving her massages, distracting her, bringing her water and something to eat - in short, being there for the little things! The father is not obliged to be present during the entire birth. Having a break and a breath of fresh air may be beneficial at times, both for him and for the mother-to-be. In some cases (Caesarean, surgery, etc.) he may also be asked to leave the room.
Frequently the men are confronted with their partner's fluctuating moods; she may no longer be able to bear being touched or might express herself in a violent manner. All this is normal: with the effect of fatigue, pain and anxiety, some emotion is bound to be released. It is often the father on whom this is vented! His role will therefore be to find the right balance between being present and being discreet.
In the first few minutes after the birth, the father plays an active role. He is often asked to cut the umbilical cord: this is a very symbolic act! However, he is also the one to take responsibility for the baby's first bath and for dressing it. Whether or not the father is present at the birth, it remains a great event - the moment when he first meets his baby.
Each father chooses how he wants to experience it ... and will remember it all his life!