Men and Maternity

Men and Maternity

Men and Maternity

Men and Maternity


Men are now much more involved in childbearing, both as medical practitioners and as partners. This book traces the increase of male involvement in childbearing and considers the benefits or otherwise of male participation.


The childbearing scenario is the unequivocal focus of this book. As with any great story, the major focal point is likely to be found in the dramatis personae, rather than in the plot as such. The main actor, of course, is the woman in the process of becoming a mother. She has traditionally and rightly been the major focus of attention for all those involved in childbearing.

It may be, though, that her role as prima donna is under threat of being usurped by a range of techniques, interventions and bit players. Two of the relatively recent arrivals on the childbearing scene, the baby's father and the medical practitioner, appear to be particularly guilty of threatening to steal the woman's limelight. In view of this, the purpose of this book is to examine the nature of these men's input into the childbearing scenario. In doing this I will assess the existence, reality and extent of any threat which they may present.

Who the man is

Throughout this book I attempt, as far as possible, to refer to the man in the singular. This is because the generalisation, which a plural would imply, may not be appropriate for such a varied constituency. Having clarified that the focus is on the individuals, it is necessary to explain that those individuals belong to one of two groups, although some may belong to both. These two groups of men are the partners and the attendants; that is, the medical personnel. Although the term 'partner' is less than ideal, it is widely understood and probably accurate, whereas 'husband' in Western Europe is becoming increasingly likely to be imprecise.

At first glance, it may appear that the father and the medical practitioner have very little in common. On the basis of the literature, the assumption is being made throughout this book that their gender, or at least their gender attributes, are widely shared (see Chapter 2, pp. 36-7), although some may question this. Other, more specific commonalities will manifest themselves as the book progresses.

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