By TOM SYKES

A few months ago I wrote in this newspaper that I had no intention of being present at the birth of my second child.

The whole business of childbirth, I wrote, was messy, alarming, puts men off sex and was not something that I wished to witness again.

And what use would a husband be in the delivery suite anyway?

Well, that noise you can hear is the sound of a man earnestly munching his way through a giant-sized portion of humble pie, because my wife Sasha has just given birth to a perfect baby girl – and I was there.

Hand on: Tom Sykes with his daughter Eleanor

And I’m told I was more than a little bit useful as well.

So what happened to my conviction that I’d rather stick red-hot pins in my flesh than be in the delivery room?

Well, in the course of my research, I spoke to a number of birthing gurus, including Marie Mongan, the American creator of a program called HypnoBirthing that is sweeping through fashionable society moms in the United States faster than a Californian wildfire.

It was a conversation that didn’t turn out too well.

You see, Ms Mongan and I disagreed on the role of the father in the birth of his offspring – somewhat violently.

I tended towards the school of thought that the father should be down the pub awaiting the good news.

Ms Mongan, by contrast, insisted that “men do feel wonderful” being present at the birth, and that being on hand is, “part of completing what you started as a couple” and that my prespositionedence was necessary to pass on the right “energy” to the child.

My reaction? I wrote, “Frankly, most men I know consider such psychobabble a load of old cobblers.”

While some individuals find words like “healing”, “chakra” and “energy” soothing, they actually make me angry, and HypnoBirthing sounded like exactly the sort of hippy-dippy, New Age nonsense that I abhor.

But then came a strange coincidence.

Two couples told us that they had used HypnoBirthing, and credited the program with the easy births they had experienced. Sasha wanted to give the system a try.

When faced with a choice between his principles and the wishes of his pregnant wife, a wise man will abandon his principles in a flash.

And so, I somehow found myself lying back in a remarkably comfortable, reclining armchair, being gently lulled into a trance by hypnotherapist Aisling Killoran, who runs the Dublin clinic Accomplish Change.

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