Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What About Dads?

So it's almost father's day and I have been thinking about Dad's role during cesarean births, or for that matter all births.
In general in the last 35 years fathers have had an increasing role in the birth of their children. Gone are the days when gentlemen waited at home or in hospital waiting rooms cigar in hand. Now fathers are most commonly in the birthing room being with their partner while their new family member arrives.

The one exception to this rule seems to be father's who's babies are delivered by cesarean section while the mother is under general anesthetic. I can't seem to find any documented medical reason why this is so. In fact, I have found numerous reference to the difficult time families have after these types of births, because father's are mourning the loss of witnessing their babies arrival and the mother's fighting the irrational feeling that the baby they are given is not really theirs. I would like to issue a plea to hospitals every where:
Not only will this solve the problem of them missing their child's birth, but studies have shown that having someone take pictures during these types of births and later telling the details of the birth of their child can really help the mother's emotional healing and promote proper bonding. Who better to do this then the father?

I sure needed my partner with me during my birthing experience. In fact, one of the worst parts of my second son's birth was when I had been moved to the OR with the understanding that baby needed out quick and that a instrument delivery was likely, or perhaps a cesarean. I was alone (except for the room full of blue clad people!) when the doctor made the call to operate. I so needed my partner, but he was still in the hall waiting to be given permission to enter. He was upset and I was upset. Why couldn't he have been with me when this life changing decision was made?

I remember now the child birth class we took together and while we were talking about cesarean births the instructor told the partners "Don't be afraid to sound like a broken record by saying "When can mom see the baby?" Ask often , ask everyone, keep asking until it happens. As you know if you have read my previous post, we were lucky enough to have this not be an issue for us, but I have heard so very many stories of women waiting hours to see their new babies. So dads: KEEP ASKING FOR BABY TO BE WITH THEIR MOM.

I came across this post: "Delivery Room Football" by Dr. Emmett Miller describing the scene when after his wife's unexpected cesarean delivery. The pediatric team was getting ready to take his baby daughter away to the nursery before mom had even seen her. “Nobody’s leaving this room with that child!” he declared .“You’ll have to sign papers saying that you’re taking this child against medical advice!” countered the doctor holding the baby.
He recalls: "I imagine that if I had not been an experienced physician, I might have faltered long enough for him to succeed in an end run after all. But I had delivered enough babies to know that this one was in no immediate danger. A moment later, Lauren was there on her mother’s arm nuzzling for the breast."

You can read his whole story here:

While not many of us have medical professionals for partners , we can still advocate for mother baby contact, and if that is not possible then skin to skin with father is the next best thing.

A study from Sweden called:
Skin-to-skin care with the father after cesarean birth and its effect on newborn crying and prefeeding behavior. concluded:
"The infants in the skin-to-skin group were comforted, that is, they stopped crying, became calmer, and reached a drowsy state earlier than the infants in the cot group. The father can facilitate the development of the infant's prefeeding behavior in this important period of the newborn infant's life and should thus be regarded as the primary caregiver for the infant during the separation of mother and baby."

The role of father's, like all elements of birthing, I believe is in need of greater understanding soI strongly urge you to visit:
This is the site of the first birth empowerment film for fathers. Just the trailer made me want to cry. This film highlights the problems with the way father's are pushed aside and babies and mothers are subjected to unnecessary and practically violent procedures. Please go to the site. There is a chance to get an advance copy and help get this film finished.
So that covers what I have found out, so far, about dad's and with the birthing process. I know there is so much more to learn. Before I finish this post I wanted to add that dad's are not just helpers or extra people at the birth of their children. Birth can have a profound impact of fathers both in a positive or negative way, especially if the birth is difficult, as many cesareans are. Here is a link to a post partum dad's site
If you are a dad and are having a difficult time since the birth of your child you are not alone. Reach out to others who understand what you are going through.

We all have the chance to reach for greater and better births for every member of the family
so let's spread the word. Educate yourself, educate each other. Share your stories and a very HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reading, not sure what is up with the shrinking text, sorry. I keep changing it but when I post it gets small again??
    I'll get better at this some day :)