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Husband does not want to attend birth.

(47 Posts)
jobrum Sat 02-Aug-14 16:38:10

So as not to be rude - first post on mumsnet. I'm four months into my first pregnancy, swaying between indifference, excitment and moments of absolute terror! Hi! smile

I'm starting this thread as after some searching through the discussions here I have not been able to find anything where a partner does not want to be at the birth and the woman wants him to be.

I'm giving birth at City hospital midwife unit in Birmingham, or possibly one the have a mile or so away from the actual hospital. It is very unhospitally and you stay in one room for everything. I'm - so far! -very at ease with the thought of giving birth apart from that my dh has said he is not going to be there. I do understand the reasons he's given: he doesn't want to see me in pain, he won't be able to help, he will feel awkward and in the way, he's not great at giving support and another woman who has been through birth would be far more useful. But I do find him supportive and he's calming to me and knows me very well as a person as well as I obviously want him nearby if something were to go wrong.

He's suggested having his mum there who's given birth four times and I am considering this but want him around too! And I am reluctant to spend money on a doula when there are so many other costs that come with starting a family!

I want to compromise by having him there until maybe transistion or just after when he can go outside and get a cup of coffee! But so far he wont budge and I dont want this to become a drawn out argument between us.

Please tell me that someone else has been in this situation and can offer some advice. Or what have people done when the birth partner they want to be there isn't.

jessiemummy28 Sat 02-Aug-14 16:43:18

I have to say he sounds pretty unsupportive hmm. It's not going to be a walk in the park for you either, and you have no choice but to be there! He doesn't want to see you in pain? I imagine you don't particularly want to be in pain! It's not like you can opt out. I assume you both made the decision to have a child, and therefore he should be supporting you every step of the way. My DH was really apprehensive about the labour but managed to stay calmly supportive throughout (he stayed head end!). Sorry I know I'm not offering any helpful advice here but I really feel that if you want him there, he should be there.

MrsDavidBowie Sat 02-Aug-14 16:43:29

Dh was hopeless at birth of first.
With second I was totally on my own..just me and midwife.
It was much better.

Personally I would refuse to be anyone's birthing partner.

17leftfeet Sat 02-Aug-14 16:46:30

I think that if he feels really strongly about it he shouldn't be there -fathers being in the room is a relatively new thing

However pregnancy still might not feel that real to him at the moment and he may change his mind as time goes on

callamia Sat 02-Aug-14 16:58:40

I think it's ok for him to feel scared and apprehensive abut his ability to help. Has he talked about what it's like to any other men who've done it?

He might really surprise himself if he does, and I wonder if he'll regret it if he doesn't. I had my son in a midwife led unit, and the support and guidance I got from my midwife was amazing. She directed my husband, made him useful and never made him feel in the way or silly. She involved us as adults and equals in the process.

He is going to be around you I labour while you're still at home - I assume your MLU won't take you in until you're reasonably far into labour. Being at home with a woman in labour is probably the toughest bit - neither of you know what you're doing, and you're in pain, but he can't help. Once you're at the unit, then it felt more like the midwife was the there to take ultimate responsibility - tell us things were normal and ok.

If he really, really doesn't want to, then there's not much you can do, but I think he's missing out.

IHeartKingThistle Sat 02-Aug-14 17:02:34

Has he got any friends who have been at the births of their children and could tell him the reality of it but also how amazing it all is? Bit of peer pressure maybe?

jobrum Sat 02-Aug-14 17:04:55

I know, it does make him sound like a really unsupportive man! But he has actually suprised me so far with how good he's been since I found out I was pregnant, especially with the morning sickness and terrible migraines I've suffered. A few years ago, long before I thought about having children, I thought I would never want him there for a birth but my minds changed now.

He has aspergers, mildly but enough to recognise it if you know what it is. He gets an idea about something and sticks with it and is very bad in new situations, especially if he doesn't feel comfortable so I do completly understand his reasons which is why I'm not going do shout and tell him he doesnt have a choice - I want him there willingly! I don't want him to look, or cut the cord or eat any placenta just comfort and encourage me even if he doesnt think he's any good at it. If I didnt think he could do this I wouldnt want him there.

I'm struggling to find anything apart from the usual 'should men be at the birth, one woman argues not' type stuff to discuss with him although I am going to ask him to read through 'Do Birth' which I found excellent (although a bit too hippyish in places!). Would getting other fathers to discuss their experiences with him help or put him off even more!?

SnayPah Sat 02-Aug-14 17:09:58

He doesn't have to know what he's doing. Birth is not HIS problem to solve. Honestly. This idea some birth partners get that they need to somehow be responsible is kind of funny - you'll be doing all the hard work, he just needs to do whatever he normally does when you need some support. And by refusing to even be drawn into a discussion he's making it about him, which is a bit selfish I think.

wafflyversatile Sat 02-Aug-14 17:13:16

I'd suggest that you get both him and someone else to be the trainee birth partner and assure him that there is someone there if he can't handle it. He can back out if he needs to at any point and won't be letting you down because the back up will be there.

AliMonkey Sat 02-Aug-14 17:14:21

DH was very unsure about being there. I took the approach of saying "well I would like you to be there but I won't make you if you really don't want to". Was genuine as thought he would be no help at all if I forced him, but also thought better way to get him to be there as has tendency to dig his heels in if you get into an argument! He gradually came round to the idea and is very glad he was there (and I was too). My first birth ended in C section but second time around was better and it gave him a new respect for me he said so helped our relationship as well! Think the idea of getting someone else's DH who has done it to talk to him(subtly of course) is a good one.

littleducks Sat 02-Aug-14 17:14:59

Dh geeky life this when I was pregnant with my first he changed his mind and was then there for all three and would have hated to have missed any.

He still hates OBEM type programs and wouldn't want to be at another person's.

StrawberryMouse Sat 02-Aug-14 17:16:47

He was there at the start so he can be there at the end! grin

I think this is really unsupportive. I'm sure you don't really want to give birth do you, but you don't get to opt out. All he has to do is stand nearby and be nice to you. Rubbish.

Eatscones Sat 02-Aug-14 17:42:42

I can understand him not wanting to see you in pain and deciding that he'd just be in the way. I know for me personally, I feel it was my DH that got me through the worst bits. He didn't DO anything of any great significance. It was just the fact that he was there and I knew he was there. He held my hands and stayed up by my head. He had no desire to see what was happening down below and did not cut the cord. But to have someone who I was completely comfortable with there was a huge support to me. This is our second pregnancy and he's excited to be there for this one now.

Obviously you cannot force him to be there, but let him hear how much it would mean to you, to have him nearby. And, he'll get to meet the new little bundle right along with you.

17leftfeet Sat 02-Aug-14 17:45:41

I think if he has aspergers then being in a birthing room could be incredibly upsetting for him

Talk to him, explain what you would want from him if he was there but ultimately have a back up plan

jobrum Sat 02-Aug-14 17:50:25

Thanks for all the advice so far! We do talk about it, and I think part of the problem is is that I get where he's coming from and what he's saying makes complete sense to me as I think I'd feel the same way if someone asked me to be sitting around for hours whilst someone gave birth!! And I hate having to do things I don't want to do, it's not when I'm at my best!

I think the problem is he doubts his own abilities. He believes he's no good with other people who are ill or in pain etc and to be fair he isn't. But he is with me - today I've got a stomach bug caught from work. He's asked where I wanted to be, what I wanted, checks up on me at intervals, tells me I'm looking really pale but still very pretty, gone out to buy me peppermint tea... he knows me so well and it's sad that he doesn't think he's any good at it.

I'm wondering whether writing down the reasons why I want him there so we can discuss each one would help. I don't want to leave this until a few weeks until the birth and find out we haven't resolved it!

I think we do have a couple of friends, and our own fathers actually, who would really advocate being there, not just because its now the done thing in our society.

wafflyversatile - I am tempted to go for this. When he suggested his mum I actually thought it was a great idea, I'm hoping this could be our compromise!

Is there anyone out there who in the end agreed their partner wouldn't be there? Did it cause any resentment afterwards or was it actually a good thing?

OhGood Sat 02-Aug-14 17:50:58

That's a tricky one. (As a woman I had no choice but) I would have hated to miss out on the birth of any of my children. It's such an incredible experience, hard to put into words the emotional impact of seeing my babies for first time. I would feel very sad to think that DH had missed it.

I don't know how your DPs Aspergers will affect him in a situation like this - what's your opinion OP?

ABlandAndDeadlyCourtesy Sat 02-Aug-14 17:51:09


Would you be comfortable with your DM rather than MIL, or with a close friend or sister?

I would make sure he is in the hospital somewhere at least.

I am not going to call him selfish as I'm sure he loves you and wants to be supportive but fears making it "worse" somehow.

Floralnomad Sat 02-Aug-14 17:59:39

My DH was at the birth of our first baby ,he was very sick and completely traumatised ,when we had our second (6yrs later) there was no way he was going to be there - he didn't want to be and TBH I didn't want to have to worry about him . As it was I had an ELCS ,we had the baby taken out to him as soon as they were happy with her and it worked very well for us . Good luck whatever you decide.

wafflyversatile Sat 02-Aug-14 18:05:31

My way he takes the steps one by one, from now, practising the steps, the theory, so it's not a massive shock on the day, but he has the safety net of his mum if/when he can't take the next step.

squizita Sat 02-Aug-14 18:14:48

On a practical level (and there was a long thread about this about a month ago, if someone can dig it up) you are going to NEED someone who can do a good job.

Someone who is intensely fearful, traumatised or squeamish might well make YOU traumatised needlessly. Your advocate when you cannot speak is speechless with horror or fainted from blood seeing (or over-controls and too rigid in their ideas, meaning delays in any pain relief you want that you didn't initially paln).

Actually at many classes there will be discussions of who your birth partner should be: the modern 'assumption' of husband, some birth experts feel, contributes to interventions and birth traumas because they aren't the best qualified, most useful person to have around. Just the one we now assume will be there because otherwise we'll be the only one of our friends with the different birth partner, and someone might make comments online.
How many cultures, historic times has this been the norm? It is almost always a female relative/parent.

I'm 100% for men being able to attend the birth - my DH will for sure (but he is very comfortable with blood/pain etc in a medical setting - but the expectation that (a) men should and (b) they 'should' magically be able to give support is unfair on both them and the mother and baby. Because what if they cannot? What if they're honest enough to say 'I can't do this'?
Then you're placing yourself at emotional and possibly physical risk because having your husband there is the 'done thing'.

squizita Sat 02-Aug-14 18:16:19

Oh and 'you have to so should he' is a seriously dumb thing to say. He's not going to anyway, unless you force him to eat a turkey whole and poop it out in one go: he would just be there.

squizita Sat 02-Aug-14 18:20:11

Bit of peer pressure maybe?
...because someone who's been guilt tripped into it will really be the right calm, positive presence you'll need.
Do not choose a birth partner, especially not when you are messing with his neurological needs, based on peer pressure or "it's what modern daddys dooooo to be supportive.
Peer pressurising someone with Aspergers might not work or might well be extremely emotionally harmful (I have spectrum traits and can see it being massively high pressure).

Carikube Sat 02-Aug-14 18:30:06

DH didn't want to be at the birth of our first whereas I really wanted him there. We eventually agreed that he would stay for as long as he felt comfortable (he's pretty squeamish). That worked well for me as he got quite involved and never really got to the point of thinking he didn't want to be there anymore (in spite of theatre/forceps etc).

If you give him the option of leaving when it gets too much, that might help...

Chunderella Sat 02-Aug-14 18:33:16

I think if there's a possibility that none of your family or friends are for whatever reason going to be the birth support you need, a doula is an entirely justifiable expense. They can be a lot, yes, but this is very important.

jobrum Sat 02-Aug-14 18:34:28

No sisters, the only friends I'd consider having there are a single mother of a toddler who can't really be there at a moments notice, one who will be in London with her own newborn and another will be in another country. And as much as I love my mum, I do not think she will make for a good birthing experience at all!

He's not at all squeamish, or panicky and knows more about the actual birth process than me! He's watched One Born... and hasn't once gone 'yuck' or 'does that happen'! I think he is worried about making it worse, or at the very least not being any help. I just need to convince him how much I value and appreciate him being there.

I haven't wanted to discuss this with any of my friends as I'm worried that they'd just get outraged as the thought of a man not being at the birth of his child. But I want him to be there willingly because I don't think he'll be much use if he's there under protest. Obviously I'm not going to get him there as willingly as I would if we were off to the pub for the evening! But I don't want to have to drag him along kicking and screaming. The midwife centre looks so welcoming, I might be able to get him to agree to be there and pop in every now and then - maybe when he realises he's not in the way and actually doing some good (unless I've got this all wrong and I end up not wanting him there at all!) he might want to stay.

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