The Best Beginning Choices Family Design your delivery A Special Experience
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"Engage the support of others."

The father's role during pregnancy and birth is often viewed as secondary or less important than the mother's role. On the surface this appears to be true. However, the benefits of the father's complete and continued involvement from conception through birth, and with the rest of the parenting process, cannot be emphasized strongly enough.

Once they are open to the idea that there is awareness and consciousness present in unborn babies long before birth takes place, fathers often see responses to their touch, to their voice, even to unspoken thoughts. One can witness changes in fetal movement, frequency, and location of fetal kicks and fetal heart rate in response to a parent's touch or voice.

Siblings should be included in the process, too. They need to know that they will not lose any of their parents' love when the baby arrives. They can be included in activities surrounding the pregnancy, making him or her feel like the important big brother or big sister whose efforts and support are needed, appreciated, and rewarded. Remember that sibling rivalry is mostly created by unbalanced adult attention. Allow the siblings to determine their own trust and involvement, however. Don't force them to participate.

Bearing in mind that no member of the family should be forced to participate, involvement of the entire family of an unborn child allows the family unit to learn and grow together. Sharing full experiences together, and with the rest of the family, will help the parents feel very comfortable with any new knowledge they gain and techniques they choose in planning their own, special birthing experience. In circumstances where the father is not available, support from other family members and friends can be very important.

Remember, strong physical and emotional support from anyone helps eliminate fear and greatly improves your birth experience.

  • Communicate openly about pregnancy and birth, and discuss all aspects, including any fears that might exist.
  • Have other fathers who have taken an active role in the birth experience talk to the father-to-be and assure him that he will witness one of life's greatest miracles at the birth. After most fathers experience the birth, they usually say that they would not have missed it for anything.
  • Do not force the father's involvement. Use gentle persuasion and patience in getting the father involved. Many fathers get involved at the last minute and are often the most enthusiastic participants.
  • Schedule doctor appointments so that they are as convenient as possible for the father, taking his work schedule into account.
  • If an ultrasound is suggested, schedule it at a time when the father is available. Being able to see your unborn child and his or her movements makes it feel real and binding.
  • Create a good birth experience by working as a team. A wife should continuously reinforce her needs and the benefits of the husband's active role as a team member.
  • Discuss expectations of the birth experience with the physician. Aim for the birth experience you want and do not be intimidated into retaining a doctor who does not want to work with the family.
  • Select a hospital that understands and supports your desires and has designed its facilities and methods of operation with family convenience in mind.

Above all, think for yourselves, and maintain a positive, loving attitude.