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The Birthing Hour Paperback – December 18, 2013
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Alas, there is a third option – an option too vile to even fathom for such a good man, good husband and a good father as Tony Whitman. That third option is to join the wolves, and to actively work to prevent your wife from making any unconventional birth choices. I have heard some horror stories. In one story shared with me, the woman, who already had a traumatic hospital birth experience, wanted to have her next baby at home so badly. Her husband said “Absolutely not”, and threatened her with legal action if she tried. She found out that unfortunately, the law was on his side. It was extremely painful experience for her, and even though it happened years ago, the emotional scars are still there.
This woman is my friend. Sadly, her story is not an uncommon one. This is why I appreciate so much the existence of a man like Tony Whitman. He fully stood behind his wife’s decision to have their first baby in a freestanding birth center, and the next baby at home unassisted. My hat is off… And I confess: I’m green with envy.
One thing Tony Whitman has discovered: for a father who wants to be truly supportive during his wife’s pregnancy and birth, especially if her choices happen to be unconventional, there aren’t too many helpful resources. The goal of the book is to change this.
Mr. Whitman searched far and wide. He started with history books, trying to find any information on what was the father’s role in, and attitude to, birth in times past. There wasn’t much information available – but he found some. He was able to trace how the father’s roles and attitudes changed from the Greco-Roman period through Medieval times, the Enlightenment period, the Victorian times and finally the Modern times. He watched many movies to see how fathers are presented in them, and was disappointed to notice that in a typical Hollywood movie the father is portrayed as a “bumbling idiot” who has no clue about birth. He read whatever birth books he could find specifically directed at fathers (and there weren’t too many to be found) – and put quite a number of them in the “bad “department (while saying, somewhat apologetically, “this is only my opinion.”) He browsed many magazines and websites for information related to fathers and birth.
The results of this intense digging for information are presented in this book. Of course, the kind of a father who is inclined to throw his wife to the wolves, or worse yet – to join the wolves, is unlikely to change his mind after reading Tony Whitman’s book. Chances are, he will not even read it in the first place. (On the other hand – maybe I’m too pessimistic?) But what a gift it is to a father who truly wants to be supportive. A father who is ready and willing to “encourage, defend, support, and stand by” his pregnant wife will find a lot of help and encouragement in this book.
Honestly, I really enjoyed it. The droll humor made it an easy and enjoyable read. That the author not only talked about the various roles of fathers at birth throughout history as well as created a viable platform for fathers to decide what roles they want to take is a very good thing. Add the fact that there is an actual rundown of resources for fathers to have a starting point for their own research, makes this book a shining gem amongst birth books written for fathers. There is just enough explanation of the terminology to be helpful without bogging the reader down. All in all, a great book and one that I recommend to all fathers, not just fathers-to-be.