Childbirth Traumatizes Some Dads So Much They Can't Function: Here's How to Prepare Them Better

This Just In 5

baby bumpAs moms, we know how stressful giving birth is, you know, because a tiny human being makes its way out of your body and all. For some of us, the process can be pretty traumatic -- even to the point where we can't help replaying scenes from the labor and delivery ward over and over again in our minds.

But after hearing that some dads experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after witnessing their wives delivering their babies, it's clear that some fathers are just as affected by the birthing process as we are -- if not even more so.

Researchers at Oxford University interviewed men whose partners had remarkably stressful or traumatic delivery experiences, and they found that their stories had similar themes.

In particular, those dads whose wives underwent emergency C-sections described being left alone in hospital hallways, having no clue what was going on, and being afraid for the lives of their babies and their partners.

One father who was interviewed became suicidal after having flashbacks of his wife when she was bloody and unconscious after having a hysterectomy during a routine C-section. His baby wasn't breathing upon birth, and even though she was revived, she wound up in the neo-natal unit. It's been seven years, and he still has not been able to go back to work.

And even though his case is extreme, I can definitely see how some dads wind up with PTSD after watching their wives give birth.

Heck, I'm a bit shocked my own husband wasn't diagnosed with it after an extremely stressful birth with our son. 

And another friend of mine's husband should've had it as well. He made the mistake of peeking over the curtain while she was having a C-section and saw the doctor standing there with her intestines in his hands. Talk about an unexpected surprise.

But seriously -- these poor guys! I guess you can never be 100 percent prepared for what will go down during birth, but based on this research, it sure sounds like there needs to be more support and resources for expectant fathers.

I mean, I know they hear a little bit about labor and delivery during the standard pre-birth classes at the hospital that everyone takes, but there has to be more information out there they can read up on so they're more prepared.

I took a look around, and as I expected, there are quite a few places dads-to-be can turn to that will help them get as ready as they can for the big day. is a website written from a dad's point of view, and offers advice for the entire pregnancy -- not just childbirth. offers advice for men on overcoming fears and assumptions while awaiting the birth of their children. The site also has an expectant father's survival guide.

Father's Forum Online -- This is a community that was started as a resource for expectant and new dads. (Guess someone already knew how important it is for dads to be prepared!) lists the seven best books for dads-to-be, for those who'd rather go the old fashioned route while reading up on what to expect when their little one arrives.

What resources has your husband turned to in order to prepare for birth?


Image via Photos by Lina/Flickr

fathers, labor & delivery


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racha... rachaelvalkyrie

My husband has blocked much of our daughter's birth from his memory.  I was induced and ended up having an "emergency" cesarean.  He was told not to leave the room, then to put on scrubs and made to wait while they took me into the OR.  She was  already out by the time they brought him in.  I'm not sure how long he was out there, alone and scared for us, but it had to be about 30 minutes.  The really amazing thing is that he suffered through all of that in silence to allow me to process my feelings.  He only told me how hard it was on him when I asked if he would write his story of that day.  As if it wasn't bad enough that he wasn't there for her birth, I wanted to cry when I realized how traumatic it must have been for him.

When our son was born he was amazing, putting himself through intense pain to help me through contractions (he has back problems and I was hanging from his neck) and making sure I had everything I wanted and needed.  The smile on his face as he cut the umbilical cord was priceless.

nonmember avatar Jenn

We had a beautiful home birth. My husband loved being there and watching the birth of our son. We had a fantastic midwife lead birth team but I believe our doula was most helpful to my husband. The doula explained the process before labor started and was there for me and my husband throughtout the entire process. It was so helpful having someone who was solely focused on the well being of mama & papa. In a scenario like this blog a doula would have been immensely helpful to the family by explaining things & being there for the dad during the c/s.

Rena Ambush Levin

I echo Jenn's comments. Hubby actually was interviewed by a woman who wrote a book about doulas. The point he made (after 5 births!) was that he would NEVER want to me to birth without doula support. It helped him to know that I was being well cared for AND he felt nurtured/supported with good info and perspective as well. During the birth of our twins we had TWO doulas, one for me, one for him :) That said, after 5 natural, relatively fast/easy and non-intervention births, he will tell you that plain old "vanilla" natural birth is SO intense and "earthy". I am really glad that he had support, I didn't need to be brave or worry about him, either but could be in my body and do what I needed to do. As a doula myself, I see this time and again. Hubby's perspective has helped me to be a better doula to my birthing client couples.

Angie... AngieHayes

Mine went fine, husband stood there and held my foot as I pushed and although I am sure he felt bad for me, I felt bad for me. Its a normal part of life and its how we all come into the world.

femal... femaleMIKE

This sounds like BS to me. 

Come on really?  I can see how a woman can get PTSD from a traumatizing childbirth, I just can't see how a man can have it from watching his wife in labor or glimpsing at a c-section. 

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