In terms of cultural history the participation of fathers in birth is new. Today this is the rule rather than the exception. This apparent normality hides the fact that in many cultures participation was and is subject to powerful taboos and prohibitions. The birth situation is so intimate that, if feelings were allowed, it would cause fear, shame and embarrassment. The fact, that these feelings are seldom being discussed does not mean that they do not exist and work.
Foto: Alex Lichtmalerei
After thirty years of experience with the presence of fathers at birth, it is time to systematically research pros and cons retrospectively and prospectively. What is the value of the father's presence? Does early contact during pregnancy and childbirth, for example, intensify the later father-child relationship? What does a "good" birth mean for him and what for her? What expectations does the couple have of each other? What hidden fears exist in both of them? A possible connection between the mechanization of births and the presence of fathers must be examined.
The concept of culture shock should be included in the debate, both regarding German fathers and migrants, who are doubly affected by social and gender culture. Preparation of men for birth is indispensable. From the female perspective, in addition to the factual preparation for the birth process, it should also deal with the existential and spiritual significance of birth. Frequently put forward suggestions such as: a crash course for men, concise, short, five questions - five answers or: birth for men must be described like a “Märklin” construction kit, do not grasp the essence of birth. In the worst case, they can bring a male dynamic into the situation, which can make the birth process difficult and turn the shared birthing experience into a delicate antagonism.
Petra Otto is a qualified pedagogue, Member of the Society for Birth Preparation (GfG) and in the Working Group Women's Health (AKF)
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