NCT response: Fathers at the birth?

Released on: 20 July 2011

A leading obstetrician, Michel Odent, and Duncan Fisher, Director of Family Info will debate today whether men should be at the birth of the baby. Michel Odent has been quoted as saying the father’s presence at the birth can lead to a caesarean delivery and later on marriage break-up or mental illness in Observer (18 October 2009).

Duncan Fisher argues that “Fathers are at the birth because mothers want them there and we should trust mothers’ instincts.”  And that “Dads can cause harm to their partners and babies if they attend the birth of their child without proper training”

Elizabeth Duff, Senior Public Policy Officer, NCT, says:

“The NCT believes it’s important that women in labour are given support throughout so they can feel calm, relaxed and reassured. For most women, this means they would like to a birth companion with them, whether it’s their partner, doula or a friend.”

“Many women feel that having their partner or father of the child present at the birth will enable them to feel calm, secure and supported during the birth.”

“However, for some women having their partner at the birth may not lead to a calm atmosphere and would prefer them not to be present. Or some partners will not feel comfortable themselves in providing physical and emotional support during labour.”

“It is important that both the mother and her chosen birth companion are sufficiently prepared for the birth. NCT provides antenatal classes which fully equip parents for the birth of their new baby and life as a new parent. Both the mother-to-be and her birth partner are encouraged to attend these classes together. For new dads, NCT branches run a number of dads groups and there is a widely used dads e-group which help fathers with the transition to parenthood.”