Do dads have a say in birth options?

I recently wrote about my experience, of delivering my son unassisted at home. One of the comments was from a dad who said that he would not allow his wife to do what I had done.

Of course, my first reaction was to be enraged at the word ‘allow’. The word means to permit. He has the right or power to permit or deny? To give his permission? This may be semantics to some, and I have been told I was too fixated on that one word, but let’s face it: As women, we have fought long and hard for equality and so to be confronted with the idea that a man might think he could allow or forbid a woman from doing something, sits very uncomfortably with me.

Basic fact: A woman has autonomy over her own body.

This simple, undeniable truth shapes the very laws on issues like abortion. And no matter what your views on whether it is right or wrong, our society works on the principle that woman have this right to choose what happens to their bodies.

All that said, when two people are having a baby together, the relationship between them is usually based on love and the ability to negotiate and compromise. After all, there are lots of issues that arise long before baby comes, which couples will need to negotiate, and so we hope that discussion around birth options can be a constructive one and they decide together what will work best for them as a family.

It is his baby too

Men are funny that way. Even though we have evolved a lot, the need to protect the partner and unborn child is very strong in most men. He should have a say in the type of birth that they plan together.

She is going to need his support, whatever they decide in the end, and if he feels sidelined it really doesn't help either of them. Equally if she feels she is being prescribed to, that's just as bad, or even worse!

Ways to include Dad

    * Attend antenatal classes together and discuss the various options presented.
    * Talk about each person’s preference, if there is a big discrepancy try see the other person’s point of view. 
    * Be willing to compromise.
    * Talk to your birth attendant about how realistic your choices are, they might be able to help if you can not agree.
    * Draw up a birth plan together.
    * Consider getting a doula to support you both as a couple during whichever birth option you have decided on.

When all is said and done though, the final say has to be hers, it is her body. To give birth safely and with a sense of being in control, no matter what the setting is, she needs to be comfortable with her decision, and not feel coerced into anything.

To be disempowered by the feeling that someone else has the ability to disallow her chosen birth option, is tantamount to removing her right to human dignity, and autonomy.

How much say do you think a father should have in the birth choice?

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