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DON'T LET DAD MISS OUT ON A MIRACLE

By Ronald L. Cole, M.D.


What would you do if you had the chance to witness a miracle? You probably would quickly accept the offer and think yourself sublimely fortunate to have the opportunity.

Yet, each day, too many people reject just that opportunity for reasons even they don't always understand. I am talking about the miracle of birth. Even more, I am referring to the opportunity to see your own child being born.

Obviously, today it still takes a father's involvement in order to achieve pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are still men who feel that once they have gotten their mate pregnant, they have both proven their manhood and ended their responsibility to the pregnancy and child rearing.

The good news is that many men are now seeing the importance of their very active involvement, and realizing the beauty, uniqueness and enjoyment of the pregnancy and birth experience that can be theirs. They have the opportunity to witness the miracle of birth of their own child and to help make it a very loving, family-oriented experience. I obviously also encourage all family members, as well as interested friends, to get involved if they choose. All can share and contribute to the miracle of birth.

The miracle reaches beyond just birth. We're talking about the chance to be a part of something really big - to be part of a team that ushers new life into the world from conception to the vital first stages of child rearing.

With a shrug of the shoulders, there are fathers who simply walk away from the opportunity to be part of this miracle. It means that dad is missing out on something priceless and unique. Sadder still, it means that his wife, the new child, and the entire family are deprived of his involvement and support when it is needed the most.

We can blame dad's absence on the centuries of division in roles between male and female which has been maintained at such a high cost. Collectively, we have missed out on many worthwhile and valuable experiences. Role separation has especially been a problem in bringing a new life into the world and giving that new life a positive start.

Fortunately, the majority of men are getting involved in the birth process these days. However, for too many, the involvement is moderate to minimal.

Determining whether or not to be present for the birth is often the first question of commitment faced by the father-to-be. They fear the prospect of seeing their wives in labor and pain, and feeling unable to help. The new father-to-be wonders whether he can handle the birth experience.

My response to such concerns, after many years in the delivery room, is, "Dad, if you don't go in, you are going to miss out on one of the most wonderful experiences in your life." I tell them of the great joy the couple experiences together at the moment of birth. There's something about a man holding a new baby he helped create that makes the birth an even more magical event. with all this joy and exhilaration, a weak stomach is quite rare in the delivery room.

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