As we’ve said, not so long ago, the man’s place during child birth used to be in a smoke-filled waiting room holding a box of cigars awaiting the arrival of his child. Now the opposite is true. What brought about this change?
It seems books might have had a role to play in this transformation. In 1974, Robert Bradley wrote the book Husband-Coached Childbirth, in which he basically empowered men to take as crucial a role in the birthing process as their partner (albeit not physically, of course!).
At the time, Bradley was both hailed as a champion for men's rights in the delivery room and criticized as someone who was trying to advocate controlling the woman. Despite, or perhaps because of the controversy, the book 'gave birth' to the 'Bradley method' and a series of classes, still running today.
Putting husbands in the delivery room not only coincided with feminism but was intimately wrapped up with the natural childbirth movement and its effort to see the modern body in a more holistic fashion.
The change also could have been brought about with cultural developments. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, it was an unspoken rule that men just didn’t go into the delivery room. However, in the 70’s and 80’s, men began questioning the medical status quo and took a more handson approach to child rearing and their rights to be present during their child’s birth.
The dissolution of the nuclear family also contributed to the change with fewer women around to take care of the expectant mother’s needs during childbirth. This naturally led to the man taking on that responsibility.