I’m still hearing stories of men trying to talk their partners out of their birthing choices. And I’m still hearing of other women trying to convince women that this is okay. That women should be willing to compromise their birthing choices and give up their legal right to informed decision making all in the name of keeping their men happy. And I’m still saying (like a broken record!) THIS IS NOT OKAY.
*Legal perspective: This point is brief because it’s clear. NO-ONE has a right to tell you how to birth your baby. Not your doctor, not your mother in law, not your best friend’s cousin and not your husband. That is, at this time, supported by law.
He doesn't have a right to tell you how to birth your baby. Ever. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
*To the men: If you don’t believe that your wife is fully capable of making the best possible choices for her family then why the fuck are you having children with her? By dissing her birth choices and trying to force her into the choices you prefer you are basically saying to her (and the whole world if she shared it on facebook) that you don’t believe that she is a good mother, you don’t believe that she loves her children above all else and you believe that her human rights are irrelevant. I can assure that she is NOT the one that is coming off looking like an unreasonable ass.
*To the women suggesting compromise: Oh my God the irony of this is killing me. Seriously. Many of you will support a woman’s right to choose something different to her OBs recommendations. I know that you support this because I’ve seen you do it. And that is great. You are fighting for women to not be subjected to caesareans that have been forced on them by their OB. You are fighting for women not to be bullied by their OBs. So let me get this straight – women deserve the right to make choices that go against their OBs medical recommendations, but do not deserve the right to go against the emotional whims of their husbands? It's not okay for an OB to bully a woman into a caesarean but totes cool for her husband to do it?
I’d like to also examine the use of the word compromise in these situations. I think that it is important to be exceptionally clear that we are not actually talking about compromise as in “meeting in the middle”. We are talking about compromising the woman’s rights and telling her that her husband’s wishes are more important than hers. When you tell a woman that she should consider her husband’s feelings in these matters you are essentially telling her that she should simply shut up and do what he wants. That’s not okay and you should really refer to point one.
*To the women who are struggling with unsupportive partners: It’s okay to want him to be happy with your choices. It’s okay to feel that his support validates your feelings of being a good mum. I get that. No-one wants to feel like their husband doesn’t think they are capable. But here’s the truth – you are capable. You are a great mum. You are able to make the best decisions for your baby, yourself and your family. No-one loves your baby more than you. How your partner is behaving is not okay. It is your right to make your own decisions and there are people out there who will support you and your rights. But also know that giving in to his wishes doesn’t make you a bad person and doesn’t mean that we will refuse to support you. Because at the end of the day it is always YOUR choice.
I don't think that he's too worried about being subject to obstetric violence. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
At the end of the day the person whose body is on the line should always be the one to make the decision. No man has ever died from caesarean surgery. No man has ever been held down and forced to undergo a vaginal exam. No man has ever been subject to obstetric violence. When will we stand up and say that no man is allowed to take away our legal rights to birth our babies how, where and with whom we feel safest?
To the women: If you don’t believe that your husband is as integral a part of the birth as he was of conception then why the fuck are you having children with him? Do you think his genes come that cheaply? Is all you need from him sperm and money?
Good article - I don't know why women want their partners present at the birth, let alone planning the venue. Even if the husband was the one in the relationship that wanted the baby, I still don't think they should have anything to do with the birth and birth venue. It is women's business. Keep it that way.
Aliso I love that analogy. Nails it totally. I cont see how you can possibly compromise on this. When it goes skewiff he is not going to get an equitable share of the lifelong trauma. He is not going to get an equitable share of the pain, the bodily invasion, the bullying, the coersion, being held down, humiliated, degraded or the suffering of trying to cope with the aftermath of a c/section. When he can achieve and equitable share in these things, then maybe, just maybe he could be allowed to have equitable input. Birth should ONLY be about where and how the birthing women feels most comfortable. If he is not comfortable with that then he should leave it alone. You know there is something to be said for secret womens business. And I bet there are many men out there, who really would rather not be there, society just doesnt give men a true choice anymore, they are 'expected' to be there, expected to be helpful and supportive and when/if they cant do that they are a worse than useless.
I definitely wouldn't agree that 10% of women "can't" give birth naturally - I think it is very dependent on the environment, respect and support around her - and so many times those are lacking in hospitals. It's pretty simple, really - there can't be a "compromise" because that implies that everyone has an equal stake and gets a bit of what they want. When it is only the woman giving birth, it is 100% her choice. Imagine if a woman said to her husband that he could have surgery, but without an anaesthetic, because it is safer - would that be fair? Of course not - his body, 100% his choice as to what happens to it. Yes, the baby might be "his" as well, but that reminds me of the joke about the difference between the hen and the pig in a bacon and egg breakfast. Answer: The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed
I agree that it should be the woman's choice. But I think you are to quick to gloss over the woman who, for religious reasons & out of love, is being respectful of & subservient to her spouses wishes, concerning childbirth, as in other areas of life. While this is a noble endeavor, one important fact is being ignored. That is that a woman will birth best... safest... easiest in the environment she feels safest in, & with only the people she is comfortable being naked in front of! Natural childbirth advocates have long known that ability to relax is paramount to having a complication free birth 90% of the time. (The exception proves the rule, & 10% of the women really cannot birth naturally, regardless of how relaxed they are.) So, if a woman feels safer in hosp, thats where she should be, if she feels safer at home, thats where she should be. It is great if both are on the same page when it comes to birthing, but if SOMEONE has to be nervous, it is better that be the husband than the wife because SHE has to relax to let the baby out, he doesn't! If the husband really loves her & is scared for her, let him read all the books & articles her has read, or just trust her instincts.