The modern male's increased participation in his partner's pregnancy is
almost universally viewed as a good thing. If you're a man, you just don't opt out of
the delivery-room experience these days without being seen as a bit of
a cad. Tom Sykes
knows this: "awaiting the joyous news that your offspring has indeed
sprung in a pub down the road is no longer a socially acceptable option
for men," he acknowledges in the Telegraph (UK). Nevertheless, he thinks
perhaps it should be.
Sykes reviews one Dr. Jonathan Ives's argument against the "false, modern rhetoric" of "equal involvement" and summarizes it thus: "being a useless spare part in the delivery room whilst your wife and various nurses yell abuse at you for standing in the wrong place is not the ideal start to fatherhood." What's more, he points out, "if the idea of husbands at the birth is absurd--and both empirical evidence on the increase in caesarean section rates in the last 50 years and common sense point to the fact that panicking men in scrubs are an unhelpful addition to the delivery room ambience--then the insistence that men attend antenatal classes is positively ridiculous."
Wouldn't men be of more use focusing on getting a crib together and getting everyone to the hospital in one piece, he wonders?
Of course, if a woman insists that her husband be present at the birth--as mine did--then he must be there ... But it is certainly time to decriminalise the expression of male doubt on the issue, for surely even the most radical gender theorists would be forced to concur with Dr Ives--and me--that giving birth is something that women are better at than men.