A Word to Fathers
by Jill Cohen

As a father, you play a vital role in pregnancy and birth. Since you are responsible for getting the baby in, you are also a major support for getting the baby out. Women need to feel comfortable when having a baby. Your presence, love and support help create the perfect birth. Many men do not know how they fit in during the childbearing year. In the past, men were excluded from the birthing process, setting the precedent that men were an unneeded, unwanted presence. It is now a known fact that one-on-one contact from the partner helps create a better, less interventive birth. Why? Because your woman needs you! You are her best friend, her confidante. That powerful connection promotes security and trust, and these are the elements to successful pregnancy and birth.

couple during labor

© 2000–2001 Patti Ramos

When a woman is in her early months of pregnancy, it may be difficult to relate to how much her body and mind are changing. Patience and understanding are key to maintaining good relations. As her belly swells and your baby kicks, you can feel the movement and hear the heartbeat. Now it is easier to relate to what is going on! As the pregnancy evolves and birth becomes more imminent, your woman will lean on you. Her needs and wants will become your guide to how to be. The process is natural. You will also learn what your own role and needs are. With good communication everything falls into place. Mother Nature provides learning tools toward parenting for both of you.

Birth is a woman's time. The power which her body follows in order to open and let the baby emerge is a primal force of nature. What the birthing woman asks for is what she needs. Even the quietest, shyest women become unabashedly direct during the forces of labor. Your woman will tell you what she wants or doesn't want. You will be proud of the strength she displays. Your role is to dance along and love her through this magnificent process. Although it may be difficult for you to watch your partner in discomfort, remembering that your baby will arrive soon and that this is a natural and good thing helps to meet the greater goal. Birth becomes not so difficult and in fact is fun! And remember, you are vital to the process.

However, it also is important for you to find what is comfortable for you. How involved you are is your choice. In this culture we have progressed from complete exclusion of men in the birth to demanding their presence. It is between you and your partner to find what works best for you, and there is plenty of middle ground. You and your partner will only be pregnant and birthing a few precious times in this life. Enjoy and cherish these experiences. Fathering a child makes you part of a continuing evolutionary process, involving you in the production not only of your children, but your grandchildren and all generations to come.

Jill Cohen has been a community midwife in Eugene, Oregon for more than 20 years. She has been with Midwifery Today for 14 years, where she is associate editor of Midwifery Today magazine and senior editor of The Birthkit.


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