Fathers suffer at childbirth too

first_imgRecent findings by Oxford University researchers have shown that fathers as well as mothers can be severely affected by the trauma a difficult childbirth can induce.The researchers, from the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU), interviewed eleven fathers and partners whose partners’ childbirths had been marred by life-threatening complications. They went on to look at the effects of these experiences.The results suggest that particularly difficult births, as well as being severe for the mothers, also cause long-term issues for partners to the extent that in some cases they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.Factors leading to particularly stressful and dangerous births can vary from heavy, uncontrollable bleeding to amniotic fluid embolism, where birthing fluids get into the mother’s bloodstream. However, such events are rare with only one in 100 births involving such complications.Professor Marian Knight of NPEU, who led the work, said, “Many of these emergencies happen during labour or immediately after, and involve severe bleeding. The mums are severely ill and need lots of care. And while everyone is running around looking after mum, it can affect dads too.”However, the results of the findings have caused controversy. In an article for the Telegraph, Milli Hill, founder of The Positive Birth Movement, said, “Already the number of articles and media discussions about the study greatly outnumber the tiny number of husbands and partners who took part in it.“Yes, it’s no wonder the men folk are traumatised by childbirth, because it’s a gory freak show that women alone must suffer, and, if you must be there at all, you’re best off sticking at the head end and keeping a low profile, mate. Birth is bloody, birth is horrific, birth is dangerous.”One comment left in response to Hill’s article expressed a similarly traditional view, saying, “Allow the father to be there during the preliminaries then boot him out into the waiting room when things really get going. This is women’s business and a man shouldn’t be at the business end.”Harriet Moorhouse on the other hand, a third year geographer with a place to study graduate-entry medicine in September,  focused on the positives of childbirth. Having worked on labour wards, she was able to give the following anecdote.“I saw a routine caesarean-section delivery of IVF twins. The father was present for the c-section, and the couple had undergone several rounds of IVF before finally conceiving twins. The birth of these twins was therefore an overwhelmingly exciting and joyous event in the couple’s lives. Save for the anxiety associated with any surgical procedure, the father was over-the-moon and visibly excited – almost giddy.“He observed the entire procedure, including the surgeon making an incision, essentially tearing the skin apart and then reaching under the skin to pull the babies out. When the babies were removed from the mother’s body, the father cut the umbilical cord. He was thrilled.”last_img