Dad's View of Pregnancy and Child Birth
They tend to be a forgotten factor during pregnancy and childbirth. While mum and baby are showered with concern and attention, Dad’s thoughts are seldom heard. We chat with two men about their experience of first time fatherhood.
Nerves and Denial - a father's perspective
For new dad Oliver Douglas, denial was the only response to impending fatherhood. “Our first pregnancy was an accident”, he says, “and for nine months I was in complete denial - I would make jokes that my wife had just drunk too much beer!”
“I didn’t want to deal with any emotion until it came – what if we had lost the baby?”
Like Oliver, Angus Pearson was also nervous about his partner’s pregnancy. “I was just worried that my partner and child would be ok,” he says, “As a father you feel so powerless – the mother deals with the pain, illness, everything… and you feel useless.”
Angus feared that their cosy couple life would be transformed. “I felt horror at how our lifestyle would change. We used to go out all the time, but that wasn’t going to be possible anymore.”
“You also realise that your partner is not going to be the person that they were. And then you think about all the things you have to do to prepare… the logistics are unbelievable!”
But while Angus was buying buggies and decorating baby rooms, Oliver resisted all planning until his son, Philip, was born. “On the day we brought him home from the hospital there was no cot or cupboard in his room… that caused a bit of a row. In hindsight I should have at least made the cupboard!”
Harsh Reality of Childbirth
Philip was born after a long, strenuous labour. For Oliver, childbirth was a disturbing shock. “While everyone says how wonderful it is to see your baby born, it isn’t. It’s horrible! No one wants to see their partner in pain. It doesn’t make sense, but I felt that to a certain extent, I was forcing my wife to suffer through that pain.”
Both fathers vividly recall their first moments with their newborn sons. Oliver says reality hit when he held Philip for the first time. “I was the first person to hold him, and that was exactly the right thing to do – I think my wife knew that. Otherwise I probably would have continued my denial!”
“In that one instant, your life is transformed. You think, ‘This little child is going to be dependent on me, I have to make him the centre of my life,’” he says.
Angus says the first moments with his son Luke were ‘strange’. “First you notice their tiny hands, and then you feel overwhelmingly relieved that everything is ok. People say that you connect with your child instantly... I thought it was all just hippy talk, but it’s really true.”
Oliver believes most fathers are in denial to some extent, and he offers this advice for new fathers: “You can’t predict how your life will change, and if I went through it tomorrow, I wouldn’t do anything differently… But you should probably set up a cot before the baby comes home...”
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