Fathers are now urging hospitals to pay more attention to their well-being when their partners are going through difficult births, as a number of men have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being left in the dark during the process.
When mothers have severe and life-threatening complications during birth, their partners are left alone in a room or waiting to hear news that often doesn't come until after the baby is born.
Men were interviewed by Oxford University researchers about how they felt when their wives or girlfriends were going through a difficult birth.
Many of those men said they were left alone in hospital corridors and had no idea what was happening, images of the hectic day still looming in their minds years later.
Most of them also said they felt they were unable to talk to anyone about it because all the attention was given to the mother and baby.
Now, hospitals are urging staff to give more attention to partners of women giving birth.
One man, Mark Booth, said he was "just put in a corner" while his wife gave birth.
His wife had a very serious complication while she was giving birth.
When he came in, he saw a placenta on the table and did not know if the baby was dead or alive. He also saw the nurses pushing in an empty incubator.
"I didn't know what it was," he said about the placenta. "Nobody was there to explain the process."
"That was the most traumatic moment for me because I didn't know if the baby was dead or alive, and then two nurses came out with an empty incubator, but didn't speak to me."
His wife, Jo, said the hospital did an excellent job at saving her and the baby, but failed at helping her husband.
"The hospital did the medical aspects fine," she said. "They did everything they were meant to do, but there was no pastoral care. I had several months of flashbacks and I don't feel I had any preparation for that."
"It's not that doctors or midwives don't want to help. It's that they don't have time because they're already so busy. It's the system, not individuals."
The research is being released with hope that it will prompt medical staff to give more pastoral care.
Head researcher Dr. Lisa Hinton said, "The online resource at www.healthtalkonline.org should help with both the need of mothers and fathers to hear others' experiences of complications in childbirth, and also provide information for health professionals."
Sources: Daily Mail