As your partner goes into labour you may feel that you have climbed aboard a roller coaster with no idea of when you will be able to get off.
James remembers his wife's labour and his own experience of the actual birth vividly: "The labour proceeded first of all slowly and then very fast. Such was my desire to involve myself in the proceedings that I started shouting 'push' and 'stop pushing' alternately. After being told to shut up, as Mandy couldn't hear what the midwife was saying, I found myself pushing for all I was worth."
Another father, a nurse, was also surprised by his reactions: "Before the birth I felt quite confident that I would be able to achieve most of what I saw as my role in the birth. After all, I had been present at two births as part of my nursing training. However, I don't believe that any amount of information or knowledge could have prepared me for how I actually felt." (Mark)
Other fathers felt annoyed by the way their partner was taken over by medical interventions, both during the pregnancy and at the birth: "You feel that your partner has been taken over by medical restrictions and that her whole genital area has ceased to be erotic and become public property."
As a male I seem to be regarded as a necessary inconvenience at best by health professionals. It is about time that the father was included fully in all aspects of the pregnancy. Potential fathers are looked upon as idiots and patronised accordingly by the literature, or the midwives. It is about time that men were considered equal in these matters." (31-year-old first-time father)