13/12/2011 14:22 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Dad's Pregnancy Diary: A Heartening Sound

Dad's pregnancy diary: A heartening sound PA

NINE out of 10 fathers are now present at the birth of their child.
In my dad's day it was very different. He was at my birth, but can't recall anything much about my mum being pregnant. Perhaps he was too busy painting everything in their first home a nice shade of 1970s purple to notice.

The only thing he does seem to remember is that one of the other men in the hospital where my mother delivered, shockingly demanded conjugal rights from his wife, while she was still in the ward recovering from having their child!

In the case of my wife's dad – he was apparently in a work meeting when she was born.
These days, as an expectant father, it's only right that you're expected to be part of the whole process.

In fact, a recent study by the University of South Florida found that a father's involvement before his child is born is not only useful it may decrease the chance of a child's death during the first year of their life.

So, last week, I dutifully trouped off with my other half to the 16 week appointment with the midwife.

This, it transpired, was a woman who had four children of her own and was absolutely obsessed with everyone else's.


I defy most men not to feel a bit of a twerp trying to join in a conversation with two women about bladder infections, placentas, scar tissue, urine samples, sore breasts and the rest.


I know we're all supposed to be 21st century men but I spent most of the first part of the consultation staring at the only picture in the room – a baby tiger. It seemed to sum up my attitude to new borns: cute but potentially terrifying.

Then the midwife tried to find our baby's heartbeat.

Since our first child I am, frankly, slightly sceptical of some of what midwives sometimes babble about. Four in a row, for example, confidently, but almost certainly wrongly we now know, told us our child was in a head down position, only for him to turn out to have been in a breech position in the couple of weeks before birth.

But the next moment, thanks to this midwife's undoubted skill and reassuring manner, we were listening to the quick fire, thump thump of our baby's heartbeat.

It made us both smile all the way home.

On the domestic front my wife's sickness and tiredness magically vanished right on cue as the second trimester began. She even thinks she can feel the occasional flutter from the baby inside the womb.

Now we can really enjoy Christmas. Well, as she pointed out, I can.


I've realised that if you can't drink, eat blue cheese or nibble on pate then the yuletide jamboree isn't quite so good if you're pregnant.


"Oh well," I said tucking into my first glass of mulled wine, "at least you can enjoy it next year."

"No I can't," she said. "I won't be drinking while I'm breastfeeding." Ah!

At least I'll be there at the birth and all the future appointments to er, 'help'. Then again other research shows I might actually be a hindrance. A study from the University of Toronto showed that mothers have an easier time giving birth if they are supported by another woman - instead of their male partner. They're less likely to need caesareans or pain relief.

Given some of the things blokes get up to in the delivery room, that's not much surprise.
One man we know felt he should go through everything with his partner – even down to trying out the oxygen mask himself, when the staff's backs were turned.

Was your partner a help or a hindrance during labour? Did he try to nick your gas and air?