Pick Up Or Delivery?

Fresh debate has erupted this week on breakfast telly over men in the delivery ward – whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing to have the big lump of spunk there.

Tracey has just informed me that if I wasn’t going to attend the births of our children she wouldn’t have let me attend the conceptions, so I guess we know where she stands on the issue.

In 2009, French obstetrician, Michel Odent, said he was of the opinion men hindered in the delivery ward, increased the chances of C-section and anyway would probably rather be at the pub drinking with their mates. Or something along those lines.

I know a pub is precisely the sort of place my father was for the births of myself and my siblings.

“I’m glad I wasn’t there,” he’s admitted to me on several occasions. The delivery ward he means, not the pub – even when there’s no impending baby he’s always happy to be at a pub.

So, like so many social mores held even 100 years ago, a lot has changed in a very short period of time. From my father’s day, when dads in delivery wards were almost unheard of in Australia, to the births of my own children, when nothing short of a delayed flight or natural disaster was acceptable as an excuse for not being in the room rubbing your partner’s back – and telling her how absolutely friggin’ awesome and clever she is, and how you’ll take the rubbish out without so much as a frown from now till the day you die, and how she doesn’t really need to name the baby after your mother, even if it’s a girl.

Of course, if Dr Odent had seen my performance at the birth of my eldest daughter he might be excused for making assumptions and thinking he had a very valid point.

I’d been told not to touch anything green (or was it blue?) and I didn’t. I did, however, manage to both touch and topple the contraption holding the green (blue?) fabric, sending it into the backs of the heads of the two doctors who were busily sewing up my first wife’s belly.

In doing some further ‘research’ for this post (Tracey calls it ‘not helping with the kids’) I saw it mentioned over on BBC news that Gordon Ramsay hasn’t attended any of the births of his four kids. My initial response was one of pity. I mean, he’s a busy man and I assumed he was working away and had commitments. Not, so. He just didn’t want to be there. And while I respect his decision I do perhaps wonder if he might have found it educational given he’s quoted as describing birth as “skinned rabbits and conger eels coming at me from everywhere.”

But if you’re not an international super-chef, who people are too scared to argue with because they know you’ll start yelling cuss words at them and comparing them to bad cuts of meat and then work the whole thing into your next telly series, then you probably don’t have the balls to say you don’t want to be there for the birth. Opinions have swung so far the other way people would look at you strange.

Until I started reading tonight I think I probably would have been one of them.

It simply has never occurred to me that in this day and age someone might not want to attend, or might not want their husband there. Personally, I wouldn’t have missed the birth of any of my kids for anything. They were amazing experiences and I was overwhelmed with feelings I can’t even describe at each and every one of them. Even now, I can think back on each birth and my eyes well up and I need to tell my wife how clever she is.

I think, perhaps, I’m now of the opinion, with any sort of ‘normal’ birth, the only person who doesn’t have the right to tell the husband they can’t be there for it is the doctor.

It seems I’m not the only person in this house who thinks this way. The issue has clearly been playing on Tracey’s mind too. She just stomped back into the room to inform me that while I’m allowed in the hypothetical delivery ward, Dr Odent is definitely not.

 BBC News – 14 March 2013 – How it became almost mandatory for dads to attend the birth

BBC News – 25 November 2009 – Should dads be in the delivery room?

When not typing away over here and checking his stats every two minutes Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his ‘BIG FAMILY little income’  Facebook Page.

 ’raising a family on little more than laughs’


  • Good on you Bruce. My dad was going to be there for my birth (1973) but I was breach and they kicked him out, to this day he still isn’t sure if he was glad or not. He wasn’t allowed in the room for my siblings as it just wasn’t done then.

  • I guess it’s been a learning curve as much for the medical profession as for us parents 🙂 once again, though, am pleased to have been born in this day and age

  • I am like Tracey. I would have killed my husband if he had decided he wasn’t into the whole supporting/being present thing during childbirth!!! As much as I like to remind him that he’ll never know the feeling of carrying and having a baby pulled out of you with great gusto, and will therefore forever be a wuss compared to me, it is an experience we shared and still bond over 20 months later (and probably forever).
    I was watching One Born Every Minute back when I was pregnant and felt like watching a horror show, and was shocked at the fact that in the UK the father was left out of the theatre during special procedures like an emergency C-section. It was my husband’s presence that actually kept me calm and he distracted me so well when the Little Mister didn’t breathe for FOUR long minutes (it actually worked – I didn’t even realise until later) despite freaking out on the inside himself. I actually really respect him for that. That was a huge thing to have to do.
    It wasn’t just me wanting him there. He wanted to be there. He was willing to move heaven and earth to be there on time. Even his male work colleagues were happy to knock off early (they car pool) and rush him to the hospital haha. I love that guys want to be there to witness the births of their children. I love when a professional sports guy takes time out from important games to be there…that’s how I judge them, rather than on their sporting abilities haha.
    I guess it comes down to the couple. What they both want. However, pregnant lady should always win 😉

  • Neither of my sons fathers were at their births first one was in Army in Victoria I was in Sydney that was 1969 second son father was not allowed in as it was not allowed in & that was 23 hours of pain & a forceps birth then baby was whipped away I didn’t get to see him for a day then two Drs come into my room & said now don’t get upset wtf but your baby is bruised a bit I freaked & I didn’t get to touch him for 2 weeks then they rang me xmas eve & I got to pick him up & take him home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Not a good experience & losing Jamie at 23yrs was so sad after he come into the world 6weeks early in a difficult birth!

  • My hubby was there for both deliveries of our babies… one was an emergency csection after a long labour, the next was elected ceasarian… He actually found them pretty interesting and had no objections whatsoever with being there, he was actually very adamant to be there both times… I was happy he was there, and it reassured me with him being there as it was a pretty scary thing…

  • My husband was very reluctant to be there with our first, but was told that he had no choice in the matter. 😉 Our second, he sat in the corner looking up jokes on his phone to make me laugh until it was time to push. Our third, he had to deliver himself in the front seat of the car. He’s now really grateful to have been there for the first two so he was able to help. On a side note, I have made the executive decision, that if we have any more, then I am moving to the hospital a week before the due date.

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