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On Becoming a Father

June 18, 2011

I run across and listen to many guys in Los Angeles who are in their twenties talking about life in general, and, of course, women in particular.  I asked them what they thought of fatherhood, and they got all awkward.  Most young guys aren’t thinking about the commitment and responsibility that comes with marriage and fatherhood.  They are thinking about the attractors, like how hot she is and if she will go out with them.  But deep down inside each of those guys is the mettle of men, it’s just not circulating through their minds just yet.  Then bam, pregnancy happens.

Once the stuff hits the fan, this young guys respond like their instinctual programming.  Once the fires are hot the real metal of a man surfaces, and you see what real men are made up of.  Fathers especially know those fires and the rewards for going through the trials of pregnancy, childbirth and early fatherhood.  How they navigate the challenges determines what kind of Captains they become and set the course for their whole lives.  Fatherhood is the Titanic of their lives.  Father’s day really is experienced every birth day for each child the man has; but the trip there really is a journey, and mostly in uncharted territories.

You women out there who have real men know what I’m talking about. They may have rough edges, and they may have habits that are offensive, ungainly or crude, but when you need them most, they are there, ballast for the boat in troubled seas, steel posts under adversity. Women and children first to the life boats. This idea that men will stay behind on the sinking ship is paramount to the psyche of men. It is a survival instinct, an ideal within men that proves true, holding some sacred intrinsic value. This male principle you’ll find laced up in a man’s soul is protective, chauvinistic, or perhaps the heart of chivalry, the ordinance of rescuing others at the expense of one’s own life.

Now most men are socialized to think that birth is a medical procedure and therefore they want to provide the best medicine can offer.  They want their women to have the best hospital, the best doctor and the best procedures money can buy.  This is what the media of the times, and what other men have to share, for only 2 percent of women ever have birth outside of the normal medically controlled birth environment.   Men do not need to be educated; quite the opposite says the practioners in the medical community.  “The more ignorant a man: the more complaint they are!” spout the nurses. So the instinct to protect will have these guys dressed in scrubs and agreeing with anything the doctor orders.  They believe medicine at this stage of their lives will rescue their Suzie-Ques and their babies.  Women and children first, and damn the torpedoes.  They are happy when the emergency of childbirth is over, and they will stand in their scrubs holding to their beautiful children and think that they are so lucky to have had a successful birth.

Men’s instincts are to protect, and so they have been successful.  If their women also believe childbirth is an emergency, a medical crisis, then the couple will be perfectly happy to have their baby by surgery, and even may elect to have the surgery regardless of the medical necessity.  Other women out there may have another idea of how they want their babies, and this is where the conflict begins.  When a woman considers not having her baby within the confines of the hospital domain, uneducated men freak.  For women who want to experience a natural childbirth, one without drugs and surgeries and scrubs and IV poles, these woman have a challenge. It becomes their job to educate men as to how you want your birth experience.

They may feel they can take their dreams of a natural childbirth into the technocratic environment and struggle to have their babies naturally by having their men protect those dreams.  Some even obtain the services of a doula to stand beside them, to help them fight off the  interference of medical procedures that lead to unnecessary surgical procedures, the use of drugs that inhibit the natural flow of a childbirth, and the constant intrusion of strangers in the birthroom.

But when it comes to making medical decisions, it is the men who want to protect and  defend their women and children who make the decisions for the most part.  They are at the helm, though often these uneducated guys think that the doula or the doctors make the decisions, but in reality it is the couple who decides.

So ladies if you want your man to be able to support you, then they need an education.  That’s why I wrote the book “Men at Birth.”  I was in that situation years ago, and I learned the hard way about what men need to do if their mate wants to birth naturally in the hospital.  I was like every other guy out there who knew diddly about childbirth, and so what will a  man do but gravitate to agreeing with every medical procedure the medical community offers.  Men will never know how these procedures will lead to unnecessary surgeries and the use of drugs.  Doctors are about scientifically managing birth to accommodate their schedules, not waiting for women to have their babies naturally.

In my humble opinion a man’s role is to protect the birth environment to help his mate have the type of birth she wants to have.  If she believes birth is a medical procedure, then he needs to support her.  If she wants a natural birth, then he needs to learn how learn the significance the birth environment and how personnel are for supporting her choices.  Ignorant men only make for ignorant choices, and that can lead to the sinking of your mate’s dream of a natural childbirth.  The choices are yours.  But for the most part, men are too ignorant to understand the role they play in this decision-making.  They just seem to want to leave the decision up to someone else.  When men start to realize the harm the high levels of surgical procedures cause their families, then maybe they can help to improve or reform women’s health care.  Remember women and children first.  For me it took four pregnancies before I knew that birth was really centered on making my wife feel the most comfortable in an environment where she could birth without the stress and demands that the medical model of birth places on women.  We had our last child in our own home, with people we chose, and our whole family was there.

If you are part of an expectant couple watch Pregnant in America‘s film on Netflix.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 19, 2011 8:15 am

    Great article – i have four children from when i was in my twenties and i now have two more later in life. My instinct to protect is always there regardless of the age of the children. I agree that men in their twenties do not know what they are getting into – but once they hold their little boy or girl in their arms, its all over. 🙂

    The learning curve comes very quickly. Thanks for writing such a nice article for Fathers Day.
    R Nickell aka Mr. Daddy

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