I find Odent's dictatorial pronouncement extremely problematic.
Who is he to say what is right for every couple? I think that many
men want to be present at the birth of their child, and many women
value their partner's loving support during labor. Sharing
in the joy of the moment of birth is often a peak experience
for both and a memory they treasure forever. Not all men want to be
present, certainly, but couples should be able to decide what works
best for them without pressure in either direction.
The main problem, though, which you experienced, is that most
men need support themselves. It isn't reasonable to expect an
expectant father, who has never been present at a birth
and is undergoing a powerful emotional experience of his own, to
learn everything he needs to know to support his loved one through
labor in a few short weeks and to be all-in-all to his partner in
labor possibly over many hours. The solution is the doula. A
doula allows the father to take on whatever role feels comfortable
to him while at the same time ensuring that the laboring woman's
needs are met. If he just wants to be present, she can
provide the supportive care. If he wants to participate but
not do it all or feels unsure how to be helpful, she can provide
guidance and reassurance. If he wants to do it all, she can
see that he has what he needs and spell him. If you ever decide to
have a third child, I recommend it.