I've recently come across some interesting quotes. Michel Odent and Grantly Dick Read are both prominent obstetricians in natural birth circles and have spoken and written extensively in support of natural physiological birth. However, they don't agree on everything. Take a look at these opposing viewpoints:
"When a woman in labor knows that she will not be disturbed, that her questions will be answered honestly and every consideration given her, then she will be better able to relax and give birth with her body’s neuromuscular perfection intact. The presence of her loving husband and/or a supportive attendant will add to her feelings of security and peace, so she can center upon the task at hand." ~Grantly Dick Read
"The most common cause for a long and difficult labor is the presence of the baby's father." ~Michel Odent, M.D.
"When you are in hard labor, remember that the length of labor is usually proportional to the number of people around. Avoid the presence of anybody who might release adrenaline. The best situation I know for an easy birth is when there is nobody else around than an experienced, motherly and silent midwife who does not behave like a guide or an observer." ~Michel Odent, M.D.
So what do you think? Which is it? Is the father's presence during labor comforting and beneficial to the process, or does it detract and possibly hinder it?
When I was in labor I always felt comforted by my husband's presence and support. Even simply having him in the room with me helped me relax more deeply and feel more comfortable and at ease, but having him right next to me, touching me, was even better. Of course, if he'd been busy watching football or playing video games it would have definitely detracted and caused more stress for me. The key for me was having his focus on me during that time, and he has always done that very well.
What are your thoughts? What's been your experience?