Friday, January 2, 2009

More about Fathers at Birth

I previously mentioned that I was looking forward to reading the new book Fathers at Birth by Rose St. John. Well, I finished reading it last week and it did not disappoint! This book is a valuable contribution to birth literature and I hope men, women, doulas, nurses, midwives, and birth educators all seek it out to read. Though it is specifically written to/addressed to men women with same-sex partners would likely find it has a lot to offer to them as well. I read it through the "lens" of a childbirth educator seeking to more fully engage the men in my classes. I found several good, practical ideas in this book that will help me reach out to men as well as just some general concepts and language that will enhance my ability to connect. So, though it is written for men at birth, it has a great deal to offer to anyone involved with supporting birthing women.

As I've developed as a birth educator, I find myself more and more interested in exploring the role of men during labor and the ways in which men can prepare for birth and for fatherhood and the things that educators can do to facilitate this process. I'm also interested in birth as a rite of passage for men as well as for women (see prior post). And, I'm also interested in the question, "do men belong at birth?" and, indeed, whether they want to be there--I've moved from feeling like all fathers-to-be should be at the births of their children, to recognizing that families have a variety of different circumstances and needs and that couples have different "personalities." Research has indicated that men take on one of three roles during labor the role of "coach" the role of "teammate" and the role of "witness." Most men take on the "witness" role--regardless of what their partners want/expect from them. Rose St. John's book offers two new roles--those of "warrior" and "mountain." These, to me, seem more empowering.

For a thought-provoking post about men in the birth place and whether or not they actually want to be there, check out this post: Men in the Labor Room: Do they want to be there.

Independent Childbirth also has a brief post about Men at Birth.

Another resource focused on men and fathers is Dads Adventure. I use their little magazine in my classes and find it useful to have something to hand out that is specifically written for men (and, in this case, addresses fatherhood).

In addition to the Birth Partner book I mentioned before, two other books specifically for men about birth are the older books Sharing Birth by Carl Jones and The Active Birth Partner's Handbook by Janet Balaskas.

I actually have a number of quotes marked to share from Fathers at Birth, but as this post is getting quite long already I'll save them for another time!

Molly Remer
CfM Blogger

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