Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

In a nice coincidence, yesterday I received a copy of the new film Homebirth Dads, by Jorge Cuevas. I look forward to watching this film, which I think fills a real gap in the birth world. Watch for my full review in the fall issue of CfM News!

Thinking about Father's Day and birth and this film reminded me of Pam England's article On Becoming a Father and the need in our culture for "fathers to mentor and initiate [new] fathers" and how we can try to " the emerging father's birth as a father." I hope that this film will help to serve in that role.

At my Holistic Moms Network meeting last week we took turns sharing our favorite memories of our husbands/partners during the births of our children and in early postpartum. This topic was inspired by a post at the mamaroots blog in honor of Father's Day. It was a moving meeting and it was beautiful to hear the accounts of the tenderness, courage, strength, and nurturing that these men had offered to their wives and new babies. It was also a time for us to honor men and the value of males and of the role of father which is sometimes overlooked by our emphasis on women and on mothering. I was surprised to find my eyes filling with tears are I shared my own precious memories of the irreplaceable support my husband gave me during the births of our sons and the beauty and intensity of his connection to his newborn children.

Last month, I was interested to read a sidebar called "Biochemical Changes Help Drive Fathers Forward" in the Spring issue of the International Journal of Childbirth Education. Men also experience hormonal changes in preparation for birth and the weeks following birth. Research indicates the following changes in fathers-to-be:

  • Stress hormone cortisol doubles in the 3 weeks prior to birth (to intensify response to baby's cries and a protective instinct).
  • There is a 20% increase in prolactin levels (enhances instinct to care lovingly for the baby).
  • "A 33% drop in testosterone in the 3 weeks following birth and a bounce back to normal at 4-7 weeks postpartum" (diminishes sex drive and enables strong focus on bonding with the baby).
So, today lets hear it for the guys and the wonderful, special gifts they offer to their families in birth, postpartum, and beyond. Happy Father's Day!

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