In 1959, Grantly Dick-Read wrote “the totally unprepared man has no place at the birth of his child” in his celebrated book Childbirth without Fear. 57 years later, a Polish study has found that fathers who have attended antenatal classes are indeed more supportive of their wife during labour.
Prepared fathers are twice as likely to provide practical support during the second stage of labour – massaging, helping with breathing, helping with labour positions and with relaxation. They are also twice as likely to support the initiation of breastfeeding.
Prepared fathers were also a little more likely to provide emotional support to the mother, to participate in the examination of the baby and to hold the baby after the birth.
Urszula Sioma-Markowska at School of Health Sciences in Katowice, with her colleagues, interviewed 250 married fathers the day after the normal birth of their baby. 131 had had no preparation for the birth; 60 had used books, magazines and the Internet; 59 has attended antenatal classes.
This research contributes to the research literature showing that preparation to be a birth partner is as important now as it was 60 years ago.
Sioma-Markowska U, Poręba R, Machura M & Skrzypulec-Plinta V (2016), Paternal engagement during childbirth depending on the manner of their preparation, Ginekologia Polska 87.9
Photo: Ernie & Katy Newton Lawley. Creative Commons.