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    Find out what other moms-to-be are asking. Join in the discussion with Henci Goer, whose expertise is determining what the research tells us best promotes safe, healthy birth. If you would like to contact Henci outside of the Ask Henci forum, send an email to

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    May 28

    Michel Odent: "there is little good to come for either sex from having a man at the birth of a child

    Tanya Strusberg

    Hi Henci,

    I just read an article by Michel Odent that appeared in a British newspaper ( Having had my husband at the birth of both of my children, I have to admit I think that I agree with Dr Odent. Not that my husband wasn't extremely helpful, loving and attentive - but he was also stressed to the eyeballs, swimming in adrenaline and I am sure a big part of the reason that I caved in and asked for an epidural. I'd love to know your thoughts on this one!



    Henci Goer

    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. 

    ~ Henci     

    All Times America/New_York

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