As a follow-up to my post, "Fathers and Childbirth", which is generating interesting comments, I want to share this excerpt from Man of Steel and Velvet by Aubrey P. Andelin, published in 1972:
A special time when a woman needs a man's attentiveness is when she is expecting a baby. And yet I have observed men who give this dramatic occasion little attention. I remember a man telling me with an attitude of pride that when his wife was ready to deliver their baby, he drove her to the hospital, dropped her off, and came back that evening to see his newborn child. He had thought of asking her to take a taxi, but felt restrained from doing that. Women suffer pain from such neglect--perhaps pain equal to that of the childbirth. Yet some women will not reveal their sensitive feelings. It is too humiliating. They also have pride and self-respect. If one must ask for such attention, it means nothing. Attentiveness must be given voluntarily and willingly to be of value.
Every consideration should be given to a woman in childbirth. Traditionally, women want the presence of their husband. They want to hold his hand and feel his sustenance and comfort--they want to know that he is there. This used to be customary when women had their children at home. I observe this tradition returning as fathers are being permitted to enter delivery rooms in many hospitals. They are of little assistance to the doctors, are perhaps a hindrance, but are of real value in giving the wife comfort so needed at this critical moment in her life.
Although childbirth is a natural function of the body and seldom does it result in a fatality, yet there is a moment at birth when the woman hovers close to death. Her heart momentarily stops and there is a time of crisis. I think women must sense this possible danger, which is one of the reasons she instinctively feels a need for her husband to be near. It is also a time of intense suffering, and great joy, strong reasons why the husband should be there to share them with his wife.