Childbirth is a vulnerable and often painful time, which is why it's important to have a loving, support person by your side throughout the entire process. And, in my experience, if that person is your partner they can make or break your ability to "enjoy" childbirth. For better or worse, though, there are more than a few red flags your partner won't be supportive during childbirth, according to an OB-GYN.
In 2008, leading obstetrician Michel Odent argued that men should stay out of the delivery room via The Daily Mail. According to Ordent, the presence of a father can prolong labor and for a variety of reasons, ranging from their own adrenaline, depression, or their desire to avoid witnessing the birth itself and, as a result, creating a distance between themselves and their partner. Agree or disagree with his polarizing stance, Odent did highlight some potential ways a partner could be detrimental during labor and delivery.
While my partner was supportive during my pregnancies, childbirth highlighted where he drew the line. In the beginning he was calm, attentive, and excited, but during active labor he was distracted and, more than once, I had to call out for him to pay attention to what was going on. He didn't hesitate to support me once I made it known that I needed it, but I wish he'd have been more supportive without me having to ask. After all, I was a little busy.
Sometimes I wonder if my delivery would've been less traumatic if my partner would've been more attentive and emotionally available. So if you're preparing to give birth, be on the lookout for the following red flags that your partner will drop the ball during game time. And remember: you deserve to be surrounded by the most supportive people possible... no matter what.
They're Not Interested In Birthing Classes
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD tells Very Well Family that partners should be informed, patient, and prepared. While a birthing class isn't the only way to achieve the aforementioned, it certainly doesn't hurt.
Whether it's coaching you through breathing exercises, easing your delivery fears, or educating you on what will happen during labor and delivery, these classes can be important to first-time parents preparing to experience labor and delivery. If your partner isn't interested in joining you at these classes, or refuses to sign up at all, it could be an early warning sign that they won't be the best support person during childbirth.
They Don't Acknowledge Your Pregnancy Pains
Pregnancy is exhausting, uncomfortable, and painful, so having an empathetic partner help you through those 40 weeks (more or less) of discomfort is vital.
If your partner dismisses your pregnancy pains, or claims you're "overreacting," chances are they won't be supportive and understanding when you're enduring contraction after contraction. Your feelings, your pain, and your experience all matter... and they sure as hell should matter to them.
They Take No Interest In Your Birth Plan
While a birth plan isn't essential, and those in labor and their health care providers often deviate from then, they can be incredibly beneficial. Not only can they alleviate any fears a soon-to-be mom has surrounding childbirth, they make it easier for a laboring woman to advocate for herself, her needs, and her wants.
Your partner should be part of the birth plan-making process, or, at the very least, know what's in it. If they're dismissing the plan entirely, they probably won't be invested in the actual birth, either.
They Don't Seem Encouraging
If your partner hasn't been encouraging from day one, they probably won't be during labor and delivery. It seems obvious, but we often hope for the best in our partners, especially during trying times.
So if your partner hasn't been encouraging during your pregnancy, address the issue now or keep them out of the delivery room.
Pregnancy is difficult on our partners, too. Are they experiencing what we are in any way? No, but they're often worried about our health, or afraid of becoming a parent. And, in my experience, there are two reactions to that kind of stress: stick around and work through it, or flee the scene. If your partner is distancing themselves it might be an act of self-preservation, but that doesn't make it OK. They need to be present, consistently, and if they're not chances are they'll check out during labor and delivery, too.
If you notice any of these red flags, I encourage you to talk it out with your partner. You should have all the support you need and deserve.