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The BBc's June Kelly
"Around 90% of fathers now attend the birth of their child"
 real 28k

Mary Newburn and Dr Michel Odent
"Listen to them discuss the issue"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 January, 2000, 14:10 GMT
'Keep men out of delivery room'

Baby Men may be unhelpful at the birth of their child

Expectant fathers often cause more problems than they solve if they attend the birth of their child, an expert has claimed.

Dr Michel Odent has even suggested that over-anxious fathers might be responsible for an upsurge in Caesarean sections because they cannot stand to see their partners in pain.

The baby's father - a man - is not always the best possible person to help his wife to feel secure
Dr Michel Odent
Dr Odent, who invented the birthing pool in the 1960s, said anxious men risked passing their concerns on to their partner.

He said giving birth was an emotional experience, whereas men tended to see everything in a rational way.

Women often needed to relieve the pain and frustration of giving birth by screaming and shouting - something that their partner might misinterpret.

He also claimed that some women might feel inhibited in the presence of their partner, and this might lead them to opt for a Caesarean, or for painkilling drugs, when they might otherwise persevere with a natural delivery.

Dr Odent told the BBC: "When a woman is in labour what she needs first is to feel secure and it seems that the baby's father - a man - is not always the best possible person to help his wife to feel secure.

"(This is) because he is a man, because he has never had babies, and because when something unexpected is happening he cannot understand, for example if a woman is suddenly vomiting, he is in a panic."

Dr Odent said a female relation or friend - particularly somebody who had already had children - would provide better support because they had already been through the process themselves.

Being logical

We should change the cultural expectation that it will definitely be the father of the baby who is there
Mary Newburn, National Childbirth Trust
He said: "Of course it is not simple, there are so many sorts of men, and some of them can keep a low profile.

"But some behave like observers, or they want to guide and reassure with words. At the very time when the women needs to cut off the intellect, they want to be logical."

About 90 per cent of fathers attend births in Britain.

Mary Newburn Mary Newburn : need to be flexible
Mary Newburn, head of policy research at the National Childbirth Trust, said there had been a move in the 1960s to involve men in the childbirth process so that they could play an active role in supporting their partner.

But she said: "Now we think more that women need the best support they can get, and if that comes from a woman who perhaps has been through childbirth herself then it is better to be more flexible.

"We should change the cultural expectation that it will definitely be the father of the baby who is there. People should think the woman's needs come first.

"Many couples will decide that it is right for the father to be there through labour and see his child being born, but that is not right for everybody.
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See also:
17 Jan 00 |  Health
Head to head: Fathers and childbirth
04 May 99 |  Health
Men suffer from baby blues
23 Aug 99 |  Health
Doctors oppose home births
10 Sep 99 |  Health
New fathers get advice
07 Jan 00 |  Health
Caesarean babies 'cope better with stress'
19 Nov 99 |  Health
The key to a successful pregnancy
28 Jan 99 |  Health
Abnormal births rise
03 Apr 99 |  Health
Class gap divides baby deaths
28 Aug 99 |  Health
The changing face of childbirth

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