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How Witnessing Childbirth Affects a Man and Relationship with Spouse
Parenting, Relationships

How Witnessing Childbirth Affects a Man and Relationship with Spouse 

  • Men witnessing childbirth can be traumatising and affect the relationships they have with their spouses
  • Consultant counselling psychologist Silas Kiriinya explains ways in which witnessing child delivery can affect and impact a man’s life
  • Some of these effects can either be positive or negative depending on a man’s experience in the delivery room

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By Sherry Amocaleta

The male involvement before birth, during and after birth is an important factor in pregnancy outcome.

Man in a delivery room holding his child. Photo: istock.
Man holding his baby after delivery. Photo: Istock.

How witnessing childbirth affects a man

The experience of childbirth is life-changing to both men and women. When men witness this process, different responses depend on factors such as the status of the relationship and other precipitating factors such as finances of the same.

Here are some ways this can affect a man’s life, as explained by consultant counselling psychologist Silas Kiriinya.

“On the extreme end, one can develop postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from witnessing a loved one suffer and undergo a near-death experience. Some of these symptoms include hyper-alertness, sleep disturbances and reliving the traumatic experience,” he said.

Consequently, the relationship with the partner and/or the child may become possessive or weaker compared to before childbirth.

It is important to note that birth trauma is treatable with the right professional care.

“Another effect is how witnessing childbirth affects the sexual attraction of men to their wives. While childbirth is indeed miraculous, it can cause a dwindling of sexual feelings and sexual intimacy between the couple,” he added.

Even with this change in the relationship, the counselling psychologist emphasises that it is important that the couple continually communicates about it for intimacy to be rekindled.

Professional help may also be incorporated to help the couple grow through the experience.

On the other hand, the man’s presence during birth can be a great milestone in the couple’s relationship.

The man can offer reassurance, care and support needed for the spouse to feel in control of the delivery, for instance, if complications come about.

According to Kirrinya, other times, some men view it as their responsibility and obligation to be part of the childbirth process.

With this attitude, men can develop care for the unborn child and bond as they welcome their new parental responsibilities.

Men have reported newfound appreciation for their spouses during childbirth as they witness a life brought to the world.

“Also, when men are present during childbirth they are able to keep abreast with developing information and progress. The man, therefore, feels useful and confident in his role on reproductive health concerning his partner and child,” added Kiriinya. 

It is important to note that cultural norms have not really defined the man’s place during childbirth. That’s why some men will develop guilt after witnessing childbirth.

However, a relationship thrives on care, support, love and commitment. These transcend values, and they are important before, during and after childbirth and even in parenting.

ALSO READ: Tips for Couples Seeking to Rekindle Romance After Childbirth

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