"Why Men Should NEVER Be At The Birth Of Their Child" blares the headline in today's Daily Mail. But if you assume that the accompanying story immediately launches into an appeal for a return to "modesty" and warnings about how witnessing childbirth can kill a man's libido, you'd be wrong. (That crops up in the third part of the piece!) Nope, Reason No. 1 that men should be banished to birthing ward waiting areas is that their pregnant partners can't multitask. "A labouring woman needs to be protected against any stimulation of the thinking part of her brain - the neocortex - for labour to proceed with any degree of ease," writes Ob/Gyn Michel Odent, who is said to have presided over some 50,000 births. "A woman in labour needs to be in a private world where she doesn't have to think or talk. Yet, motivated by a desire to 'share the experience', the man asks questions and offers words of reassurance and advice." The other bad thing about inviting big boys in the birthing room? Witnessing such a thing can make them mentally-ill.
"In its mild form, men often take to their bed in the week following the birth, complaining of everything from a stomach ache or migraine," claims Dr. Odent. "And in the most graphic example, one perfectly healthy man had his first experience of schizophrenia two days after watching his wife give birth. Was this his way of escaping reality?" Normally, such a statement would have us laughing so hard we'd be curled up into the fetal position but another article — this from the much-respected Guardian — is reporting that male postnatal depression is not only a reality, but a harbinger of future child behavioral problems. Certainly, the story — which comes out of a study at the University of Bristol — makes absolutely no correlation between paternal depression and childbirth, but we have a feeling that Dr. Odent will be taking this latest news and running with it all the way to the NHS maternity wards.
Related: A Perilous Journey From Delivery Room To Bedroom [NY Times]