Delivery rooms a no-go zone for men

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Kenyan men have been discouraged against watching their partners give birth because it may lead to postnatal depression in men.

"Women are emotionally stronger than men, “said Jane Ochieng, a nurse at the Aga Khan Hospital. "And in this case, even physically stronger than men."

The pain that a woman endures while giving birth naturally, men cannot. Watching a woman give birth is emotional torture to them, which can even lead to relationship and marriage breakdown.

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"I know of a couple who separated months after the husband watched the birth of his child,"
Jane said. "The husband felt sorry for the wife because of the pain she had to endure and blamed himself for inflicting such pain to the woman he loves. So bad was it that he no longer could have intercourse with her due to fear that she might get pregnant again."

Her words are echoed by obstetrician, Michel Odent in an article he wrote for Daily Mail title; Why men should never be at the birth of their child. “The trauma of a man watching his partner give birth can trigger a type of post-natal depression in men,” he said. Generally speaking, I have noticed that the more the man has participated at the birth and the worse his wife’s labour has been, the higher the risks of post-natal symptoms are. Of course, this is not the case for all men, but it seems without doubt that some men are at risk of being unwell or depressed due to having seen their partners labour.”

But as much as men are discouraged from going into the delivery room by doctors, it is their partners who encourage them to go in the delivery room in order to give them support.

“My husband was by my side in the delivery room through our three pregnancies,” said Nelly Wanjiku. “He provided me with the emotional support I needed and held my hand through it, although he did get nauseated a few times during the first birth but that is normal.”

Nurse Jane also said that women may take longer in labour when their partners are in the delivery room. “When he is there, yes he is supportive, but sometimes that support can be distracting to her and instead of concentrating on ‘pushing’, she relies on her partner’s emotional support.”

“I have been with many women as they struggle to give birth with their partner at their side,” wrote Dr Michel Odent.“Yet the moment he leaves the room, the baby arrives. Afterwards, they say it was just “bad luck” he wasn’t there the moment their child was born.

“Luck, however, is little to do with it. The truth is that without him there, the woman is finally able to relax into labour in a way that speeds up delivery.”

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