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Husband Gatekeeping in Childbirth
Carolyn R. Block, Kathleen L. Norr, Suzanne Meyering, James L. Norr and Allan G. Charles
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Apr., 1981), pp. 197-204
Published by: National Council on Family Relations
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/584131
Page Count: 8
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Interviews with over 200 new mothers document the husband's role as gatekeeper in his wife's preparing for and coping with childbirth. Because childbirth preparation and use of techniques has a major impact on a woman's childbirth pain and enjoyment, a husband's willingness to participate in childbirth can be critical for the physical comfort and satisfaction of his wife's birth experience. Social class, race, family stage, and the husband-wife relationship explain about 40% of the variance in whether husbands choose to prepare for childbirth. How much active help husbands give during labor is influenced mainly by whether the husband prepared for birth (r = .74). Men who have already had a child and who help their wives at home more, also give more active assistance during labor. Race and social class affect whether a husband takes birth preparation classes, but do not have any additional impact on helpfulness during labor. These results suggest that diffusion of childbirth education beyond upper status whites would yield substantial benefits for working class black couples. Unmarried women and women with disinterested husbands would benefit from arrangements that encouraged alternative support persons during labor.
Family Relations © 1981 National Council on Family Relations