For many years, I have not been able to speak openly about my views that the presence of a father in a delivery room is not only unnecessary, but also hinders labour.Odent notes:
To utter such a thing over the past two decades would have been regarded as heresy, and flies in the face of popular convention.
But having been involved in childbirth for 50 years, and having been in charge of 15,000 births, I have reached the stage where I feel it is time to state what I - and many midwives and fellow obstetricians - privately consider the obvious.
That there is little good to come for either sex from having a man at the birth of a child.
For her, his presence is a hindrance, and a significant factor in why labours are longer, more painful and more likely to result in intervention than ever.
As for the effect on a man - well, was I surprised to hear a friend of mine state that watching his wife giving birth had started a chain of events that led to the couple's divorce? Or another lady describing how the day after her husband had watched her deliver their child, he had fled to his hometown of Rome, and never returned again? For many men, the emotional fallout of watching their partner have their baby can never be overcome.
When I was first involved in obstetrics in the Fifties, it was unheard of for a man to be present as their child was born.I wrote about the harm of this perverse practice three years ago:
Childbirth was predominately a woman's business - usually carried out at home - and while a man may be in the vicinity at the time of labour, he would usually be found in the kitchen, boiling copious amounts of water, and therefore would miss the actual event.
However, by 1970, a handful of women started to ask for their husbands to be present at the birth, a shift that began to occur in many Western countries at about the same time.
For most of human history men would not go anywhere near women when they were giving birth, the bizarre and pointless practice of the man watching the process is a recent ‘innovation’…while it may be irrational for certain men to have “never regained the same romantic view of their wives that they had before seeing them deliver children,” romance is not terribly rational in the first place, is it? It is also irrational to risk damaging the romantic bond in order to do something that has no benefit or purpose.While Odent traces this trend back to the 70’s, as far as I know I’m the only person to ever identify its sinister origins:
My research suggests that the notion [of husbands watching their wives give birth] originated with and was propagated by a KGB psy-op during the Cold War, with the intent of causing...trauma to the male psyche...
My investigation is in the early stages, but we know for a fact that Dr. Bradley was influenced by the work of Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, whom he met in the late 1950’s. Lamaze “had witnessed women in the Soviet Union giving birth without anesthesia” and was influenced by a psychologist from the USSR named Velvovsky. I suspect it is only a matter of time before someone unearths a KGB file detailing the entire operation, and how Velvosky (who may have not have even been an agent himself) was used by Communist spymasters to plant the seed for this wrongheaded and debilitating practice into Western medicine. Note too that the earliest adopters and promoters of these birth practices were all on the cultural Left, which, 'coincidentally' was a movement infiltrated and compromised by the KGB.