I have been known to say that birth is not a place for the father, to the great dismay of many women. I have to admit that I should rephrase.
I can tell you who your birth partner should not be. He or she should not be someone that brings fear or doubt into the birth room. Such a person will only make labor and birth harder, no doubt through ill placed good intentions. You need someone to enter the birth phase who is in the same state of mind as you.
Suggestion of pain is conveyed by the atmosphere of the labor room; it emanates from doctors, nurses and relatives. They believe in pain; subconsciously or consciously they suggest, expect and even presume pain. Upon the sensitive mind of a woman in labor such authoritative (suggestions are) a powerful adjuvant to painful sensations.
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Solitude, it appears, may actually be beneficial to the laboring woman. When she has no overly concerned observers to "comfort" her, she can be free to look within herself for support and direction.
I understand that not all woman want to birth alone, I understand that these strong emotions, if shared, make a beautiful moment. Birth can be a joyous communal experience. But one should not choose a birth partner out of convention, or because he wants to be there. Yes, you have made the baby together, but the birth is yours to own, so be honest to yourself how you feel about having anyone present and choose wisely.
If a woman decides to share her birth with others, however, it should be because she chooses to - not because she feels she has to, out of fear of pain and problems.
So is birth the place of the father? Or anyone else except the mother? It depends on the mother’s desires and the partner’s state of mind. I have read beautiful birth stories from couples who were so attuned that they both went into that meditative state together and there was not a misplaced word, but that requires you both be in the same state of mind, and hold the same beliefs about birth.
Childbirth Without Fear, Grantly Dick-Read (2004)
Unassisted Childbirth, Laura Kaplan Shanley (1994)