“Husbands, massage your wife’s shoulder. Ladies, concentrate on your breathing.”
As Dr Rita Shah’s voice dies down, ten smiling faces look smugly at each other. In a sprawling room at Khar’s NM Medical Centre, the doctor who runs a Lamaze programme — a breathing technique and exercise regime for childbirth — took couples through an exercise that, prepares them for the hours of child labour.
As expecting mother go through various breathing exercises, husbands are taught how to support their partners. While practioners admit that in the past few years, more men are coming forward to help their wives in the birthing process, they have observed an interesting trend of men taking the lead.
“It is true that more men are showing interest. While earlier we insisted that men come along for classes, what’s interesting is that these days men are actually taking the lead. Most of the inquiries we get are from men, they fix the appointments and they have the maximum questions,” said Shah.
Agreeing with her, Nutan Pandit,a Lamaze instructor from Delhi said that the involvement of men has great positive impact on the woman’s well-being. “While we encourage the involvement of an older woman in birthing, it is a great relief that men are helping the wives especially since there are many couples who live independently,” she said.
“Women might take it (giving birth) for granted that it is a natural process and since most go through it, so would she. What is interesting is that the men want that extra help for their wives and want to be involved. Not only have men taken the lead but in some cases pushed their wives into going for childbirth classes,” said Kasia Wierzbicka, who runs hynobirthing classes in Mumbai.
Massaging his wife’s shoulder while she went through her breathing exercises, Shriram Shirsat felt that this is the least he could do for someone he loved. “I had heard about these classes from a friend and wanted her to join. Every time she has her class I drive her down here, wait while she undergoes her exercises, watch the films they show us on techniques of breast-feeding, labour. I don’t think it’s a woman’s job, I want to help too,” said the criminal lawyer who resides in Kurla.