A Father is Born
Updated: Jun 16, 2019
Birth is raw emotion. When I attend a birth I hear joy and pain, power and fear. This spectrum of emotion is normal and is expressed not just by the birthing mother but by the father* too.
I found when working as an NHS midwife there was rarely time to address a father’s needs let alone what he feels or his mental wellbeing. Support groups and birth preparation is usually aimed at how to support the birthing mother and what to pack in the bag. But there is a whole world of new experiences to face, skills to learn, emotions to feel.
In my experience, father’s are an absolute asset at birth, particularly at home. They are actively involved in practical aspects of birth such as filling the pool, physical support of their partner using massage and supporting her with positions. But it is that emotional connection between a couple that cannot be taught - the life changing experience they are sharing. Because this is the day that parents are born.
It doesn't matter if this is your first or thirty-first baby, born at home, in a birth centre or in hospital. Just like every pregnancy and birth is unique, so is every moment that you become a parent.
The first time a father holds his baby can be a nerve-wracking time: what do you do with this tiny human, so fragile and new? But fathers have instincts too - automatically they will protect their baby, talk to their baby and begin their bonding. Tucking baby skin-to-skin to connect physically, feeling their heartbeat and regulating their temperature, is one way to strengthen the bond.
Michael shares his first moments of meeting his daughter.
“Anwyn’s entry into the world is a blur, images and emotions that are not really coherent and challenging to put into words. From close to birth to just afterwards it’s a bewildering mix of joy, happiness and worry…then there was something magical.
Lisa was being treated for heavy bleeding so I had Anwyn thrust upon me. Skin-to-skin I held her wondering ‘What do I do?’, the midwives were focused upon my wife so with no one to advise me I wandered room to room showing Anwyn her new world beyond Lisa’s uterus. Opening the back door we went into the outside world, I told her about the birds flying around and clouds racing across the sky. Lastly we went to our bedroom, where she would cosleep for months to come.
Running out of things to say the words ‘In a hole, beneath the ground lived a hobbit’ were uttered and I introduced my daughter the world of imagination. To fantasy, fiction and make believe and it was enchanting…this wasn’t in a parenting manual, this wasn’t taught in any antenatal class but holding Anwyn tight we bonded; her to my voice and me to this weird creature that had erupted from my wife. It was beautiful but at the Elven Kings Hall we were disturbed by a Midwife and Anwyn joined Lisa to take her first slurp of booby juice…still we had those 20 minutes alone together and nearly 4 years later they bring a cherished flutter to my heart.
I suspect at some point Anwyn poo’d on me, she did that rather often when we had skin to skin time. It’s a shit time being a father sometimes but mostly its magical.”
There is a huge value as a father in having a midwife you know and trust . You’ve had the time to discuss your fears, and prepare for the birth of your baby emotionally. You can place trust in the person caring for the two most important people in your life. You feel comfortable enough to express your emotions or to take your top off and hold your baby skin-to-skin. This is something an independent midwife can bring to your family - you will be also be at the centre of care, because you are a father being born too. Find out more about my services.
*As today is father’s day I am referring to father’s. However, you may be becoming a parent but not identify as a father. Each family has unique dimensions and my principles are to treat every individual and couple equally, with the respect they deserve and the identity they use. Photographs with thanks from the featured fathers and Nostalgia Birth Photography /Jennifer Sarah Birth Photography