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Should Women Tell Men Their Place?

February 10, 2010

Jill Cohen states a great deal of truth in her piece “A Word to Fathers,” in Midwifery Today, yet some of what she states goes against what I know firsthand. First of all as her article states, “Many men do not know how they fit in during the childbearing year. In the past, men were excluded from the birthing process, setting the precedent that men were an unneeded, unwanted presence.” This is true and is a sad part of the history, and which needs to be addressed in the future, but by men primarily. The sociological implication of that dark period of men’s history is that they pulled away from women and left them in the hands of the medical community. Birth became a medical emergency and not as it had been for centuries, a natural biological event.
Where I take issue is with the article is in the general idea that men have to be at the birth as a major support. That really depends on the psychological disposition of the man and is a man’s decision. Women shouldn’t really don’t want guys involved who can’t handle birth. All births are not created alike, and therefore the general statement “Your presence, love and support help create the perfect birth” does not ring true. Some men can make a mess of things. Midwives have told me that some guys are just in the way.
Another problem I have with the article is with the statement “It is now a known fact that one-on-one contact from the partner helps create a better, less interventive birth.” To me the best way to avoid interventions is to pick the right birth environment in the first place. Interventions are going to be high in one environ and low in another.

picture of pregnant couple

Supporting Pregnancy

Each relationship is entirely different as people have different personalities and predispositions. The attitudes about birth, and the way a couple will handle birth is dependent on these intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
In my book I write about how determining the birth environment and the birth philosophy is something the couple needs to take to heart. Research has shown that mismatching the environment and the philosophy creates conflicts that can interfere with the ‘perfect birth.” I’ve been involved with four births in three environments: hospital, birth center, and home birth. That experience spoke to my soul.
Lastly, it is time for men to speak to men about birth. We are guys and think like guys, act like guys and experience life differently from our mates. It is time men rose up and offered that advice to each other. I’m not the only man at there who has written a book to other men. If you women want to educate men, then suggest to men that they do their own research and read some books on their own. But it is men who should be doing the educating of men.
My hope is that one day men will champion the cause for women to birth as they want, and not how institutions prescribe. The c-section rates are insane here in the U.S. and the rules about vbac births are ridiculous. This can all change and men need to come along and make it change and stand beside these very strong women who know that already.
Note: The piece I’m referring to is located at the following link:
My book Men at Birth can be reviewed in part at — soon to be up on google books.

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