Recently, there has been an increased interest on the part of fathers in the birth experience. There has also been a change in our society’s attitude, and men are now encouraged in their efforts to experience the pregnancy and childbirth.
The pregnant woman experiences the physical changes taking place and is constantly reminded of impending parenthood. Often the man feels like an outsider and has difficulty relating to his changing role.
The father needs to understand what is happening to the mother of his child, what effect this pregnancy will have on his relationship with her, and what the new baby will mean to both of them.
Many men begin to worry about finances. There are the costs for the prenatal care, delivery at the hospital, and post-care. He wonders if his salary is sufficient or will they also need hers.
Sexual concerns often surface. The father may fear that sexual intercourse will somehow harm the developing child. Conflicting feelings regarding the pregnancy, physical difficulties, and a constant concern over how all this will affect their relationship contribute to much frustration. With others, there is a “fear of abandonment,” that the child’s birth will change his relationship with the mother and that perhaps she will no longer love him.
Depression after the baby’s birth is common among fathers as well as mothers. The father may show this by such things as becoming irritable, less outgoing, and having trouble sleeping. It can be very helpful to mention this to your doctor if it is happening.
It is very important that both parents openly discuss their feelings. They must come face to face with what is happening and how it is affecting them so they may make changes accordingly.
Men who are well informed and attend childbirth classes to help with the birth of their child, often express their pride in being there to “give birth.” They often have tremendous feelings of importance. These men seem to be able to more readily accept the role of fathering and quickly become actively involved in all aspects of their child’s care.
When the father views pregnancy as a “growing” experience, he has the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of himself and the mother of his child. This can help make this period in their lives quite satisfying, which may help smoothly pave the road into parenthood.