A debate broke out in a bar whether or not fathers should witness the birth of their children. as a journalist, I somehow got involved in this debate to probe more on this new amazing topic. One said that Rwanda is one of the countries in Africa with high rates of maternal mortality in the world and something is being done to reduce the rate.
I found the debate fruitful which compelled me to dedicate this space to this write-up into accounts of people who have witnessed the birth of their children. Here it is.
I grew up knowing that the current practice wherein “the man brings the woman in labour into the hospital and off he goes, only to await the announcement of the baby” leaves the woman to go through the rigour, the labour pains and risk of labour without any support from someone she is quite familiar with around her.
Many times especially here in Africa a woman has no right to decide who to be present during the birth of her child. Many times anyone who is available accompanies her.
This is one of the most intimate and private times of a woman’s life and I think it’s appalling that women are too often left to undergo this on their own.
Where I grew up from, the woman went to hospital with her mother, sister, mother in law or any female friend irrespective of their connection in terms of relationships. On the other hand, the husband often went to the pub with his mates.
If all went well they could send someone to carry the good news but in the modern times it’s just a matter of making a phone call.
The reason is most husbands cannot cope with the mess and stress of childbirth and some medical experts say they are nothing but pests in the labour room.
During this debate the drunken debaters supported this argument and they said that men could play a pivotal role in the process of giving support to their wives in labour so as to reduce complications and ensure both mothers and babies survive the process of bringing forth life.
The head of maternity ward at King Faycal Hospital asserts that researchers pointed out that the presence of husbands is an essential component during childbirth, as the emotional and physical support significantly shortens labour and decreases the need for induced delivery.
Recently, when I was on a tour of the King Faycal Hospital with the head of Maternity ward, I cannot remember the reasons for the tour and the findings, but I do recall, it had something to do with how health facilities are fairing and the need for improvement.
I asked this beautiful caring lady that I think the presence of the father at a birth is a personal matter that should be decided by the couple themselves. She responded that I have got it right, but women love it but unfortunately many men are fearful.
As we were touring the maternity, am trying to admire the well equipped facility. I met this man who identified himself as Damien and asked him whether its ethical for husbands to be present at childbirth “It was the best experience ever, being there at the birth of our son, the experience drove me to close and made me love my wife than ever before’ he said.
He got hold of my hand and took me to his wife where she was resting in bed. “Seeing him around made me more appreciative of my husband. Now I know he deeply loves me because he stood with me in the darkest hour of my life,” she told me.
Dozens of people interviewed said, it’s a joyous occasion, many women still end up dying, thus the need to consider roles the husband could play in making labour as safe as possible.
“The support she gets from health care practitioners is different from the support she enjoys when it comes from her own partner or husband,” she declared.
Research has it that many women whose husbands were with them ended up with vaginal delivery, less caesarean operations, and generally better off babies could be linked to the fact that the women feel more assured, received more emotional and spiritual support and had someone they could talk to, assist to get water, rub their backs when they have contractions, or help to buy materials as they are needed.
She emphasized that fathers should most definitely be allowed at the delivery of their children as long as there’s no clinical risk to mum or child.
Their emotional feelings often get in the way of the situation and I have heard that their sexual interest in their wife after seeing her deliver is often reduced. “They also tend to faint when I put in epidurals in their wives,” the health practitioner informed me.
She pointed out that the creation of a child is a joint act and as such it seems perfectly right and normal that both father and mother should share in the moment of birth. However, it is clear that each couple must work out who they want at the birth, according to the individuals involved.
You should not have rules for this situation. I’m not married yet and I don’t have children, but I think that delivery rooms should have public galleries to allow curious individuals to observe the wonderful spiritual event of childbirth.
I am aware that Rwandan culture tends to make this a taboo and it would appear very strange for husbands or anyone else to be present when a woman is giving birth.
No I do not think the husband should be barred, but he should not be forced. However it is up to him to make his own decision and not try to please his wife.
The health worker stressed that its implementation must take into cognizance our cultural background, just as the medical officers should be prepared to have husbands of women in labour assist their wives.
What’s your take?