by Lois Wilson
© 1999 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.
Between contractions he wipes her face with a cool cloth, gently patting each eye with a tenderness that is like worship. As their labor unfolds I know that I am witnessing more than the birth of a baby. It is also the birth of a woman and a mother; the birth of a man and a father; the birth of a relationship that will never, ever be the same.
What is the role of the father who is present at the birth of his child? Is he a labor coach, advocate or partner? Is he a fifth wheel? A nuisance? A liability? In the twelve years that I have served birthing families in my community, I have heard many passionate opinions about the presence of fathers at birth. Over the years my own understanding of the role that fathers play in pregnancy and birth has developed to become much deeper and more complex as I have served different families, each with their own unique relationship, culture, expectations and beliefs.
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