Childbirth 101 – Does the husband or partner need to witness the amazing process of their child’s birth?

Childbirth – what a magical time!

Have you had the fortune of witnessing your child’s birth? You were instrumental in their coming into this world. Hopefully, it is a responsibility born out of the love you took on when you and your partner decided to go for it and become parents. I hope you retained that precious feeling that you would stand by your pregnant partner or wife no matter what and renew your commitment to bringing a new life into this world!

This blog piece comes from a feeling that has its roots from when I was a teenager. My sister was pregnant, and her husband just left for the Middle East in search of work. I became my sister’s untrained companion and support throughout her pregnancy until we traveled from Bangalore to our little town in Andhra Pradesh, India, to be with our parents. My mother then took over the task of supporting my sister. When her water broke, it was my mother who accompanied her to the hospital while my father and I waited to hear the good news: the birth of my sweet little niece. 

Childbirth – India and delivery Rooms 

My mother was also the labor support person for my other sister, who lived with her husband’s family in Madras. In India, it is customary for the period of the first pregnancy to be spent at the mother’s house, and hence, my sister had her baby in our hometown. Though her husband was there with her, he was not allowed to be in the delivery room. At that time, in India, it was unheard of that a woman’s husband would witness the delivery of his child. 

Husband/ partner or the mothers as the support persons

I was happy to know it was different when I came to Canada. The fact that my children’s father was there to witness the births of our daughters validated my feeling that, first and foremost, it is the person who has consciously partnered with the mother in the making of the child that needs to be present at the birth.  And I was grateful for his presence and support. It was a gift we could give our children that we witnessed their birth. And we welcomed them with joy and happiness. 

Childbirth - pic of man in scrubs holding a baby

Fast forward to 2024 – India has changed in many ways. Dr. Niroopama Pushpagiri, a well-known, experienced gynecologist and obstetrician, spoke to me of routinely having the husband or the male partner of the woman giving birth with her in the delivery room.

 

Experienced Midwife Laura Pierce from Wingham, Ontario, recounted her experience of tending to women from Mexico. She says, “The feelings of the women were that they NEEDED their mothers there, if possible, and they felt it was women’s work. Some did not mind if their partners were there, although others felt that they might not relax well until their partners left the room. The woman’s wishes should be respected at that time, as she is the one doing the biggest work.

Ina May Gaskin, author of Spiritual Midwifery, speaks of how she had to send a husband away from his wife as he was not showing understanding towards her. Hence, understanding, sympathy, support, and Love are the most important gifts you could give your partner during labor. The husband/ partner is there to witness the births and become a tower of strength for the mother, on which she can lean.

Love as a labor pain management and coping technique

Rahat & Habiba's family

Rahat Mehdi, the husband of Habiba, whom I had the pleasure of aiding during the birth of her child, says, “Awe washes over me, witnessing the raw strength and vulnerability of my wife. My heart swells with love and admiration. Tears well, marking the start of a new chapter, filled with hope for our growing family and the bond I’ll nurture with my precious daughter.”

Rahat & Habiba

I had the great fortune supporting a young mother and her family through a particularly long labor. It was an honor and privilege to witness the love and support her husband gave her through this difficult time. He was with her every step of the way, holding her when she needed him – to crack a joke, tease, and flirt and make her smile even through such pain. It was sweet and heartwarming. I was there too as a support person, but he made a massive difference to her.

Humsa Prenatals“Self Paced, online, All in one Pregnancy, Labor, Delivery, Newborn Care, and Breastfeeding Course”  and prenatal classes are geared towards helping the support persons to become that tower of strength for the mothers. If you are there supporting a mother at the time of birth of your baby or granddaughter or a new being, it is a beautiful occasion with all its turbulence and excitement. When the new life is welcomed with joy, love, happiness, and positive feelings, it will give strength and confidence to the soul, which has chosen to manifest itself into this world, to enter it.

Witnessing your child’s birth is a unique and precious opportunity.

 

I do know of men who have refused to be next to their wives or partners during childbirth, saying that they are scared or that they cannot stand the sight of blood. Seriously? Your wife/ partner and your child need you to be there not only as a witness but as an advocate, support, and mediator. 

My Advice to the husbands and partners

This is life, so don’t miss your chance to participate in it. You will remember this bonding experience for the rest of your life.

Dear Moms and Dads, I would love to know about your childbirth experience. Who was with you during that time? How did having them as a support person help you? Please feel free to share in the comments section below. Thank you. 

Q.M. Sami

Childbirth Educator

Humsa Prenatals

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