The partner’s role in labor and childbirth has changed drastically over the course of time. It used to be that men would not be around for labor or birth, they would go off and do their own thing while the woman birthed their child. But now, it has become the norm for the partner to be with the birthing woman. Not only this, but his involvement is proving to be highly valuable.
In fact, it is even suggested that having the partner absent from pregnancy, labor, and birth could lead to adverse health outcomes for both mom and baby. Here is a portion from this study, which briefly discusses the harms of not having the father present. “..fathers who are absent at birth, having already largely withdrawn from the child’s life beforehand, are more likely to have children with health problems at 3 months old.”
This study divulges how the father’s involvement with cord cutting has impact on their bond going forward. Those who did cut their child’s cord showed continuous improvement in emotional involvement with the infant. These partners found empowerment in being able to participate in this life changing event, which encouraged their continuous connection with their child. This connection, love, and affection from the father/partner benefits the child’s emotional development and overall health.
This study reveals that fathers are beneficial in comforting and calming baby in the first 2 hours postpartum from elective cesarean birth. Birth where mom might not have been able to experience skin to skin, so the father filled this role. These babies found comfort and security being skin to skin with their father. As in, they stopped fussing and became calm within 15 minutes of being placed on the father.
This is beneficial to the infant’s crucial emotional development. This experience also leaves the father feeling empowered in his role, and more emotionally connected to the child. This supplies a great start for a lifetime of healthy bonding.
I mean, there are hundreds of studies and articles produced discussing the impact of the father’s participation and attendance of birth. It has a positive impact for everyone! – Mom, Baby, and the Father/Partner themselves.
In the births I attend, I like to encourage partner/paternal involvement as much as possible. I see with my own two eyes how this empowers them. I see how this makes the partner confident in their role. I also see the child who is soothed simply by their fathers voice and touch.
Ways that the father can be incorporated in labor and birth are endless, they will also vary depending on the birthing woman’s desires. A few ways I would suggest a father’s participation and involvement would be:
- Being a physical and emotional support for mom during labor. Applying counter pressure, holding her, reminding her how well she is doing; offering her water/snacks, and giving her intimate affection (whatever that means to the individual couple).
- Catching baby as they emerge. I personally feel this plays a huge impact on the father’s empowerment. This is such a special moment and it often leaves them feeling overwhelmingly competent in their ability to fill the parental role.
- Cord cutting! This is something I also encourage the partner to participate in. The tying of the umbilical tie as well as the severing of the cord itself.
- Weighing of baby! Nothing is quite as special as seeing the father read and reveal the stats of their newest little love! They almost always smile, just permeated with pride!
The ways a partner can positively impact a labor, birth, and postpartum experience are endless, as are the benefits. Did your partner play an active role in labor and birth? How did you, as the birthing mother, feel about your partner’s involvement?