Men and childbirth

Over the weekend some of the Sunday papers carried an opinion piece by London obstetrician Michel Odent, arguing that male partners shouldn’t be present when a woman is giving birth. Now, not being a doctor, I can’t comment on the medical stuff he goes into – such as his stress hormones affecting her – but there is one bit that was just too much: “if a man is present at birth, will be the effect on the sexual attraction he feels towards his wife?”

I’m sorry? Ignoring his idea that if a woman has just had a baby she must be married, how about sparing a thought for the woman who, having just been through pregnancy and childbirth, might not want to have sex again for a very very long time.

He also says that men suffer a sort of post-natal depression in the 24 hours after the bub is born, and that this is another reason why men shouldn’t be present in the delivery room. Um, we don’t deal with post-natal depression in women by telling other women not to have babies in case they get it. As a doctor, he should know this.

The problem with this stuff is that although it’s good that pregnancy and labour are being talked about in the mainstream media, most of it isn’t very helpful. And almost all of it is about telling women what to do.

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