RESPECT TO THE BELL BOTTOMED BIRTH BROTHERS!

The 1970s seems to be all the rage at the moment – which from memory is more than it was at the time.

For the Chopper riding generation like me the latter part of the decade evokes memories of space hoppers, swingball and if you were lucky the occasional wagon wheel.

Tank topped cliques aside though those years also saw the tentative beginnings of a social shift that has impacted directly on fathers and allowed them to be present at the most profound moment of their lives – the birth of their children.

Up until then in the vast majority of births the only males allowed in the delivery room were the occasional doctor who daned to make a fleeting appearance and the baby if he turned out to be of the male variety.

But as Starskey and Hutch turned into Cagney and Lacey things everso slowly began to change and soon a trickle of fathers-to-be permitted into the labour ward turned into a torrent.

Now-a-days it’s estimated that less than 10% of UK births happen without the male partner in attendance – which is a very big shift in a very short space of time.

Not everyone sees this as a positive development of course. There will be some men I’m sure, who when gripped with tension and by their partners vice like hand will curse the pioneers of the 70s who made ducking out of the delivery an unusual course of action rather than the norm it had been for generations.

But not many. Without exception every Dad I have spoken to in the course of writing my books on Fatherhood have said that despite the emotional and psychological toll being present at a birth can take, they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The reasons they gave were two fold – they wanted to show solidarity and support, to be there for their partner as she battled towards the most extraordinary achievement of her life, but also because to choose to miss the arrival of their child seems an unthinkable act, the discarding of a precious moment, never to be retrieved.

One man though, childbirth specialist Michel Odent, even went as far a year or two ago to suggest that a mother-to-be’s labour can be longer, more painful and more complicated when a man is present because she senses his anxiety, which in turn changes the crucial hormonal balance she needs for the task in hand.

Its quite a claim and there’s no doubting that anyone, man or woman, who needs more looking after than the labouring mother they are there to assist needs to take a long hard look at themselves, but in the main Dads in the delivery room feel like they are there to stay.

And we’ve got our bell bottomed brothers to thank for getting us there.

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