A study involving interviews with 45 Chinese mothers and fathers about their experience of childbirth found that mothers strongly appreciate their partner’s presence, but that most fathers felt unprepared to participate in decisions around pain control.
“I think maybe that my partner’s [massage] technique was not correct or maybe he was nervous….The massage given by healthcare professionals was fantastic. If they had taught my partner the proper skills, I think the massage would have been OK.”
On this basis the researchers recommend childbirth preparation classes that involve both the mother and birth partner.
Most mothers appreciated a massage by their partner.
“My husband administered a massage to me, and the healthcare professional also helped to administer massage, but it was useless….yes (laughing)…it did not alleviate my pain…but it helped provide comfort….it comforted me.”
Mothers also appreciated psychological support from their partner.
“My husband was great! Although he could do nothing except witness my craziness during labour, he gave me his hand to bite and hold… It was much better that he was there, it was really good because I knew someone was there to share my feelings.”
“The healthcare professionals were very busy, I was anxious and it was better to have someone accompanying me.”
Some mothers highlighted the practical support provided by their partners – use of nitrous oxide, helping with breathing, administering massaging and talking to them to distract from the pain.
The fathers expressed mixed feelings: excitement, worry, responsibility and helplessness. Some of the fathers highlighted the value of direct support from healthcare professionals to do practical things like massaging and cutting the chord.
Ngai F-W & Xiao X (2020), Perceptions of paternal involvement and labour pain management in Chinese couples during childbirth: A qualitative study, Women and Childbirth
Header photo: Chris Beckett. Creative Commons.