The Evolution Of Dads In Delivery Rooms

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When we talk about childbirth, the mother and child often steal the spotlight. But what about the fathers? We often forget that the to-be-dad has a significant role in the delivery process as well (of course, only if he chooses to be present at the time of birth). Some dads decide to be there, while some dads prefer not to. Today, you have the choice to decide whether or not you’d like to be present in the delivery room, but that wasn’t always the case. The delivery room was a strict no-dad zone at one time, so fathers often missed out on what could be the most precious moment of their lives.

The presence of fathers in the delivery room has evolved, and today, they aren’t just spectators to what’s happening; they also play a significant role! Read on to understand what we’re talking about:

Dads In Delivery Rooms: Back Then

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Before the 1950s, expectant mothers were only accompanied by their midwives and doctors during the time of labor. Fathers were expected to wait for the news of their wife’s delivery but were not allowed to enter the delivery room, so they spent their time waiting outside, pacing around hallways, probably in the smoke zone or at a local bar within the vicinity.

The image of a father pacing up and down, worry written all over his face, isn’t just fiction. Fathers back then had all the reason to worry and be anxious because they had no means to know if their wife and child were okay.

Expectant mothers were going through the painful experience of childbirth all by themselves, without their significant other to support them. Therefore, in addition to childbirth, they had to deal with the fact that they were giving birth to their child alone, with no familiar faces around.

Dads In Delivery Rooms: Now

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The to-be-dads probably had enough and couldn’t take more of all that anticipation and worry, so things started to turn around somewhere in the seventies. Fathers began showing up in delivery rooms, holding the hands of their wives, listening to their screams, and providing the moral support they needed. This gave birth to something else, and we don’t mean their child — we mean the term “labor coaches”.

Labor coaches are often partners of the expectant mother who assist the doctor with the delivery process by supporting the wife with comforting words, reminding them of various birthing techniques they might have learned during the childbirth preparation classes, or sometimes just to take all the yelling their wives hurl at them.

Dads In Delivery Rooms: To Be Or Not To Be

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This brings us to an important question: Should fathers of to-be-born children be present at the time of delivery? If yes, why?

If you ask the fathers, most of them will describe the event of their child’s birth as the “most precious and profound moment of their lives”, while a few would go on to say that despite it being special, they could have done without it as well. As such, fathers and their partners should have a discussion about it way in advance. Making a last minute decision can prove to be confusing and both might be unsure of what they actually want.

Studies have shown that the father’s presence during delivery has a positive effect on the cognitive and socio-emotional development of the child (1).

Another study went on to say that the father showing up during delivery had a positive effect on the maternal health of the mother and helped with the birthing process (2).

Studies have also suggested that the father’s involvement during prenatal care and delivery can help maintain the health of the mother and child during and after delivery and provide the necessary emotional support to the mother. In addition, research says that this can also be useful in postpartum health and increase participation by the father in the marriage after delivery (3).

Changing Perceptions On The Role Of Fathers

Changing Perceptions On The Role Of Fathers

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RIght after childbirth, the mothers body is still months away from being fully recovered. The nine months of carrying the weight of the fetus inside her and then the painful labor and childbirth takes a heavy burden on her body and health in general. If she exerts herself too much right after birth, there is a big risk of her deteriorating her already flailing health. She needs ample rest in the coming days to be able to nurse and feed her child. The father is the one who would need to step in during this time of need.

The presence of fathers in the delivery room for assistance is only one of the many things undergoing changes. Traditionally fathers were not held responsible for upbringing of the children. It was usually the mother who would be doing most of the work when it came to raising the children. And on top of that they had to handle all the household chores. But in the modern times, people have realized that this is not fair at all. Today more and more women are also working and it’s impossible to do everything and raise a baby without the help of the father.

Fortunately, many men have stepped up to the occasion and have donned the apron and got hands on in assisting their partners. today , men cook, clean the house, change the baby’s diaper and do everything that might have been considered to be a feminine job just a few decades back.

Having said that, whether or not the father should be present in the delivery room is up to the father and the expectant mother. Sometimes, dads may not have the stomach to deal with an event that is as overwhelming as childbirth. In other cases, the husband might only disrupt the process by freaking out, which can further stress the mother. Whatever be the case, it has to be a decision between the partners. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Fathers’ engagement in pregnancy and childbirth: evidence from a national survey
  2. The role of husbands in maternal health and safe childbirth in rural Nepal: a qualitative study
  3. Participation of father in perinatal care: a qualitative study from the perspective of mothers fathers caregivers managers and policymakers in Iran
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