Do we really need dads in the delivery room?
With French president Nicolas Sarkozy recently missing the birth of his child, Deirdre Reynolds asks whether a father's absence is considered acceptable in this day and age
Oh no EU didn't! First lady Carla Bruni may have been the one to give birth last week -- but it's husband Nicolas Sarkozy who's wound up with labour pains after missing the birth of the couple's first child.
As model mum Carla (43) delivered daughter Guilana at a Paris maternity clinic last Wednesday, the French president could have been expected to be found mopping her brow -- or even just pacing anxiously around the waiting room. Instead, he was 600km away at eurozone crisis talks in Frankfurt -- and only succeeded to reignite debate about dads in the delivery room.
Although it had been hoped that a visit by the stork would soften Sarkozy's image, now his notable absence from the birth of his fourth child appears to have had the opposite effect -- enraging mums everywhere for putting work before family.
Just a generation ago, expectant dads were relegated to hospital hallways or the nearest pub as their children came into the world.
Today, statistics show that 90% of modern dads are by their partner's bedside to experience every push by proxy.
"In the three years since I set up Dad.ie, I can count on one hand the number of men I've met who didn't want to attend the birth of their baby," says David Caren, editor of Ireland's top website for fathers.
"Of the dads who don't attend, it's usually down to something like their partner going into labour early or getting stuck in traffic on the way to the maternity hospital."
David Beckham, Antonio Banderas and Tom Hanks are just some of the A-list dads to witness the birth of their children -- but others have famously refused to buckle to the pressure to be present.
Delivery-room dinosaur Gordon Ramsay boasted about missing the births of his four children for fear it would ruin his sex life.
"I don't want to see a skinned rabbit coming out of your ninny and then get excited and hold it," admitted the celebrity chef while wife Tanya was expecting. "Give it to me when it's all nice and sort of clean and ready to go."
"Seeing a woman in distress, screaming at the top of her voice, pushing (and) sweat?
"I'd rather be stark-bollock naked in a steam room with 50 vegans."
Dad-of-three David Caren, who was there for the births of each of his children, has one simple solution.
"Nobody is saying men should sit 'down below' during the delivery," he says.
"They would be far better placed up top next to their partner, reassuring them that they're doing a great job.
"Naturally, men may feel anxious about childbirth too -- feeling powerless while watching a loved one in pain or worrying about the baby."
"But the only time it's acceptable to miss the birth of your child is when your partner feels she would be more comfortable with another birth partner."