Women around the world are taking conjugal relationship to a higher level, with a growing number insisting that their husbands come along to the delivery room for the birth of their babies. NANCY GBONGBON, EKAETTE ETUKUDO AND KELECHI OLUIGBO report that the fad is catching on fast in Nigeria, with mixed reactions from stakeholders.
Pregnancy is the fertilisation and development of one or more offspring known as embryo or foetus in a woman's uterus. An awe inspiring process, it is also a precarious stage in the life of all expectant mothers, as they usually contend with morning sickness and other pregnancy-induced ailments.
Though both sexes are needed to bring a newborn to the world the natural way, women from time immemorial have shut out the menfolk from the labour room as they carry on the primeval task of keeping the future of the human race assured with new replenishment in the form of new born babies. The so-called primitive world had a plethora of reasons for this shutout, largely clothed in myths, while the moderns are evidently concerned by the psychological scars childbirth could, potentially, wrought on men's psyche.
But then there is a growing number of women demanding that their husbands be present with them in the labour room as they give birth. The jury is still out there on the appropriateness or otherwise of this demand but arguments - pros and cons - range on over the matter among stakeholders in the childbirth process.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND caught up with Mrs. Francisca Okoli an expectant mother on her antenatal visit to the Nigeria Customs Service Medical Centre, Karu, Abuja and put the question to her: Would you want your husband to be in the labour room with you on your delivery day?
A beaming Mrs. Okoli answered: "This is my first pregnancy and it has not been easy but I thank God I am strong. I have been coming here for four months now for my antenatal every Wednesday. I wouldn't want my husband to be in the labour room with me on the day of my delivery because I wouldn't want him to be psychologically traumatised."
An excited Mrs Dinah Samuel is expecting her first child after six years of marriage. She is due to deliver later this month and told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND at the National Hospital, Abuja that she would want her husband to be in the labour room with her "so that he would witness the pain I will undergo."
But her husband, Mr Adanu Samuel, who was obviously shocked, even scared, at the proposition, said: "I cannot be in the labour room with my wife o because the process will surely affect me psychologically. I just can't; please spare me on this one o! My reason is that I may not be able to recover from it, honestly. And that might just be the end of baby-making for me."
Another pregnant woman at the same hospital who pledged anonymity said she would not want her husband to be in the delivery room with her "because I can slap, punch or bite him, not deliberately but in the course of the pangs of giving birth."
Mrs Patience Duniya is counting down to her delivery date, which is some weeks away. It is her second pregnancy. "During my first pregnancy, I didn't want my husband to be present in the labour room with me, but now I want him to be present so he would understand what women go through and begin to appreciate me better," she stated with a wide smile.
Unlike Adanu, Mr Vitalis Onwuzurike, who is a married man with children, told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that but for the refusal by the hospitals where his wife had delivered babies in the past, he would have stood by his woman in the labour room.
He added: "I want to be in the labour room with my wife in order to see and feel the pain associated with childbirth. This, I believe, would help me to appreciate my wife better."
A father, Mr Edward Mishiki, has actually been in the labour room with his wife as she gave birth to their child. He said: "Ah! It wasn't an easy task o. I was full of anxiety; it was an awesome experience though. Since then I respect my wife and women more."
A family physician and general practitioner at Nigeria Customs Service Medical Centre Karu, Abuja, Dr. A. Adesida urged "men to follow their wives to the labour room as this could serve as a huge psychological boost for the women."
He stated: "It could make women healthier and happier in the sense that women would see it as a crucial support on the part of their husbands, something akin to 'we are pregnant' and not 'I am pregnant,' which is quite a morale booster for the women.
You will be amazed to discover that such companionship in labour helps to bring about smooth, quicker delivery. A woman who would have given birth in three hours could do so in thirty minutes if her husband were with her in the delivery room."