RESEARCH

Research carried out in the last two decades shows how important the father's involvement in labour is, for the mother, the baby and for the father himself. It also shows how essential it is that the father is well prepared for the birth. Uncertainty around his role can easily pave the way to stress and fear, which can have a negative influence on how he and his partner experience the birth.

Here are a some of the conclusions from that research:


 

WOMEN VALUE THEIR PARTNERS HIGHLY AS BIRTH COMPANIONS

  • When women are supported by their partner during labour they require less pain relief and feel more positive about the birth. (Chan & Paterson-Brown, 2002)

  • Women place a high value on their partner’s support in labour. When they felt well supported this resulted in reduced anxiety, less pain, more satisfaction with the birth experience, reduced rates of postnatal depression, and improved outcome for the baby. (Diemer, 1997)

  • Labouring women benefit when they feel in control of the birth process. A key component in this is experiencing support from their partner during the birth. (Wockel et al, 2007)

FATHERS HAVE WORRIES TOO
 

  • Fathers' greatest concerns were related to how their partner would cope during labor and birth and her experience of pain. The most common concern expressed by the fathers was an increased feeling of helplessness during labour and birth, followed closely by a concern for the well-being of their baby and their partner. (Dellman, 2004)

  • Fathers can feel helpless during labour and find it difficult to see their partner in pain. The uncertainty of childbirth, and the sense of not having control, can make it harder for them to cope, and this, in turn, makes it harder for them to support their partner. (Gibbins & Thomson, 2001)

BEING PREPARED IS IMPORTANT, AND SO IS BEING CALM

  • When fathers have been well prepared in how they can participate in the labour, they tend to play a more active role, and their partners’ birth experiences tend to be better. (Vehvilainen-Julkunen and Liukkonen,1998)

  • Good preparation for their baby's birth reduces a father's fears around labour and seeing his partner in pain. When a father is well prepared for birth, this has a positive effect on his partner's birth experience. (Kunjappy-Clifton, 2008)

  • A stressed birth partner can create tension and fear in the birthing room, resulting in the slowing down of labour. In this study, stress was measured during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Stress levels were highest at the time of birth, and particularly high for men who felt they were not fulfilling their role or who felt a lot of pressure. (Johnson, 2002)

BEING AN ACTIVE BIRTH COMPANION IS BEST FOR THE COUPLE

  • Teaching massage and relaxation techniques to fathers to help during labour is an effective way to increase satisfaction in the couple's relationship, and decrease postnatal depressive symptoms. (Latifses et al, 2005)

  • Couples who share the childbirth experience and support each other were perceived as having the best outcomes amongst all new parents. The emotional, practical and physical support of fathers was identified as important in the promotion of successful breastfeeding, and positively enhanced the experience. (Tohotoa et al, 2009)

  • Fathers found the experience of accompanying their partners during labour rewarding and enjoyable. Although they found cesarean section and instrumental delivery more stressful than vaginal delivery, both partners felt their relationships with each other had improved following their shared experiences of labour and birth, irrespective of mode of delivery. (Chan & Paterson-Brown, 2002)

AND BEST FOR BABY...

  • Skin-to-skin contact for the baby with the father after a cesarean section was found to result in babies being calmer and more likely to stop crying. (Erlandsson et al, 2007)

THE CALM DAD'S GUIDE TO BIRTH

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