I read these two articles, and thought they were just really interesting. Of course, it only makes sense that men and women are different — not just their obvious physical differences, but also how their brains are different, and process things differently.
While these two articles don’t talk about pregnancy, labor, or birth, some of the things in these articles made me think about being in labor, and how men and women can process things totally differently. It also explains why women many times will do best if they have another woman there — sometimes just to be there. Women pick up more subtle language and visual clues than men do. Men call it “female intuition” because they don’t understand how we can “just know” some things. Often, we can’t even put our finger on what exactly made us think a certain way, or realize how something was — we just knew it was.
Men tend to take in “the big picture” — “just the facts, ma’am” kind of thinking. In labor, this translates to making sure all the machines and numbers are in line; and if they’re all right, then everything must be just fine — as if the woman is a machine or a robot. Women clue in to more subtle things — little comments (or lack thereof), gestures, facial expressions — things that machines don’t pick up on.
So, women, don’t get upset if your husband just doesn’t understand things like your female friends do. He’s not mean or thick-skulled — his brain is just hardwired differently, and he can’t help it. While some men will be very intuitive toward their wives when they’re in labor, other men will not be. If you are expecting your husband to be something he cannot be, you will be setting yourself and your husband up for a fall. If you think your husband might not be this kind of labor-support person, please discuss it with him, and also consider having a doula. And cut him some slack during labor. What is glaringly obvious to you (“I need my back rubbed!” “Get me some water!!” “Get out of my face and leave me alone!!!”) is not so obvious to him.
If you are still pregnant, take this knowledge into labor with you. If you’ve already had your baby, try to reevaluate your husband’s labor skills (or lack thereof) in light of this new knowledge. If he was less than perfect in labor, that’s normal. Now you know why women have been traditionally the only people present in labor and at birth. It’s a female thing — men don’t understand. (Gross exaggeration, but generally true.)