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Friday, 10 March, 2000, 17:26 GMT
'Childbirth scares men too'
Dr Colin Thomas
By BBC Doctor Colin Thomas

So women find childbirth frightening - I'm not surprised.

I too would be reticent at having to pass a melon sized object into the world.

One could say that the labour ward does not exactly bring out the best in the British male.

Sometimes you would think it was them having the baby.

On numerous occasions as a junior doctor I was called to the labour ward not to tend to the poor suffering lady, but the macho husband, who on seeing a needle, or a drip, or a piece of obstetric equipment had collapsed in a heap.

Ironically, they tend to have lots of fuss made of them with cups of tea and toast, whereas their wives aren't allowed to eat during labour.

Sometimes, however, those who didn't collapse could be of equal nuisance.

During Caesarean sections the husbands are usually allowed into theatre.

Having had no experience of such activities they have to be quickly schooled in the art of theatre etiquette.

I told one chap not to touch anything that was green, because this represents the sterile field during an operation.

Unfortunately the theatre clothes which he had to change into were green, and when he walked in he had his arms outstretched with legs like John Wayne - he was trying not to touch himself!

Husbands can also get quite carried away in theatre.

Many Caesareans are performed under epidural anaesthesia and so the woman is awake.

The husband who was at one end holding her hand kept peering over the top to see what was going on and relaying this to his wife.

"Oh there's a bit of blood, now they're cutting in, and ooh there's all water coming out."

He had to be reprimanded on several occasions by the anaesthetist, but he seemed to have lost all his inhibitions.

There have been other bizarre male antics I have witnessed, like the man who decided he was going to tape record the whole birth.

I bet his wife really thanked him for that: "Just scream love, so I can get a level".

What was really irritating was the whispering Ted Lowe voice he adopted to provide the running commentary.

"The time is 1.15am and the doctor has just arrived to examine Barbara".

What we all actually wanted to hear was: "And the midwife is approaching me, she's picked up my microphone lead and is slowly twisting it tighter and tighter around my neckż"

I found out that things are not always what they seem when I had to get a woman into theatre for an emergency Caesarean section.

I said to the man who was with her: "Now, I'm afraid we will have to perform a section on your wife. Don't worry we allow fathers to be present in theatre".

"Oh, I'm not the father," he replied. "He was too scared to come. I'm the next door neighbour."

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06 Mar 00 |  Health
Women 'scared of birth'
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