As an anthropologist who studies human fatherhood at the University of Oxford, I’ve run up against a widespread and deeply ingrained belief among fathers: that because their bodies haven’t undergone the myriad biological changes associated with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, they’re not as biologically and psychologically “primed” for caretaking as women are.
As a result, they feel less confident and question their abilities to parent: Will they be “good” parents? Will they bond with their babies? How will they know what to do?
As my own personal and professional experiences dictate, the idea that fathers are biologically “less prepared” for parenthood is unlikely to be true. Much of the role of parenting is not instinctual for anyone. (I remember the steep learning curve of those first days of motherhood — learning what each of my baby’s cries meant, mastering the quick diaper change and juggling the enormous amount of equipment necessary just to make it out the door.)
And while the biological changes fathers undergo are not as well understood (nor as outwardly dramatic) as those of mothers, scientists are just beginning to find that both men and women undergo hormonal and brain changes that herald this key transition in a parent’s life.
In essence, being a dad is as biological a phenomenon as being a mom.
(click link above to see some amazing photos of ALL types of labors and births…)
Oh, my heart…
No matter how a baby’s birth unfolds ― whether it’s a first-time mom having a C-section, or a third-time mother fighting through a labor that lasts two full days ― childbirth is hard and it is messy.
But in between all the, well, laboring are moments of love. Love between partners, love between families and doctors, doulas and midwives, an)d that very special love when parents and babies lock eyes for the very first time.
Here, talented birth photographers share photos they’ve captured that celebrate those moments of pure joy and connection in childbirth.
“Why will my baby only sleep in my arms, what am I doing wrong?”. A question so frequently asked by exhausted new parents.
The first three months of parenting are often the hardest. A quarter of all babies in this age group are diagnosed as suffering from colic, a diagnosis given when doctors don’t know why a baby is so unhappy and parents are unable to stop their tears.
There is hope though, understanding the enormous transition that babies make from ‘womb to world’, a concept commonly referred to as ‘The Fourth Trimester’, can prove ground-breaking for sleep deprived new parents. When babies are born they are incredibly ill prepared for life outside of the uterus. There are theories that due to our large head size human babies are born prematurely development wise, else they would be too large to be born naturally. While this is good news for mothers, it’s not such good news for the babies who could really do with another three months gestation. Understanding this and treating newborns as if they were still ‘in utero’ for their first three months of life can make life much easier for new families.
(click link at the top to read on huffingtonpost.co.uk)
Pregnancy can be a confusing and even tough time for expectant dads. There’s so much mixed emotion – they’re a melting pot of excitement, nerves, love, hopes, dreams and fears. Yet most often, there are too few opportunities for dads to channel this energy into meaningful action that helps them feel involved during pregnancy. Many report being on the fringe of their experience, feeling unimportant, lost and left to figure it all out in isolation.
In my professional experience as an expectant and new dad specialist, expectant dads are hungry for more opportunities to be more involved during pregnancy. They want it to feel more ‘real’, to feel more connected to their pregnant partner and her experience, to their baby and to their becoming dad journey and themselves as a dad.
Dads know it’s an important time – for them, their partner, their relationship and family – and have a sense that there is more to it than they are aware. They just don’t know what they can or should do to change their experience – and it’s not their fault. We should be doing MUCH more to prepare dads for fatherhood and birth than we are!
So, your partner is expecting a baby. That’s amazing. You’re surely getting unsolicited advice from all angles. Well, here’s another piece for the pile: Hire a damn doula. When my pregnant wife first proposed hiring a doula, I issued my standard response when asked about paying someone to perform a service: Nope, I can do that shit on my own.
Oh, how ignorant I was. The more I researched what doulas do, and the more my attorney wife presented me with rock-solid arguments in their favor, the more I came around. Looking back now, I have no idea how I would’ve made it without our doula.
The dominant American cultural approach to pregnancy, labor, and post-partum care is off-kilter in plenty of ways. We’re the only industrialized nation without mandated maternity leave; and paternity leave is seen as a joke, something for lazy-ass sissies. Also, we don’t take doulas as seriously as we should. If you, as a birth partner, have heard of doulas at all, you may think they’re granola-crunching life-coaches. I’ve noticed some O.B.s seem to have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to doulas, as if not being able to perform a C-section means you have an unimportant place in the birthing process.
But doulas are awesome. They are highly trained, they are highly experienced, and, perhaps most importantly, they have your back.