Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Father's Day Isn't the Same Anymore

Since gas preceded my thoughts on Father's Day, I have a few things to say about dads even though their official day has passed. I have had the privilege to know fathers and see first- hand their involvement for the last thirty years or so.

The best evidence I have encountered ( aside from my own observations ) is from a large English national survey taken in 2010. Its conclusions are spot- on with my own evidence- based experience here in our country. In the group surveyed over eighty percent of prospective dads were "overjoyed" with their partner's pregnancy. Over one-half were present for the initial pregnancy test, present for one or more antenatal check-ups and almost all were present for sonograms and labor. Seventy-five percent took paternity leave and most helped with infant care.

"Our" demographic works perfectly in conjunction with this recent study. The clients that I service fit the model of first contact with providers  before twelve weeks gestation, having a dating scan, number of antenatal visits and most importantly, for me, ATTENDANCE at ANTENATAL CLASSES ( childbirth preparation and basic infant care ).

The overall study showed what I see everyday. That early involvement of fathers with their children ( even prenatally ) has increased with the new century. This involvement shows greater maternal satisfaction and well-being at three months post delivery. Such involvement shows improved cognitive and socio-emotional development of children. Partner support during pregnancy may also encourage healthier maternal behaviors such as smoking cessation and less alcohol consumption, better nutrition and exercise.

Evidence suggests that women place a very high value on their partner's presence and support in labor. They report less anxiety, reduced perception of pain, better satisfaction with the entire experience and less rate of  post partum depression. And improved outcomes in the child.

Although many men express fears about seeing their partner in distress, fainting, not coping and panicking or generally feeling useless, afterwards these same partners found the actual experience better than expected. So it looks like there isn't just one Father's Day anymore. Everyday is now Father's Day; just as everyday is Mother's Day. And I think that is great cause for celebration. Our children should grow up without noticing gender roles in the home, be able to recognize the care and nurturing of more than one adult and be able to model these behaviors effectively to carry out their responsibilities as they grow and mature. Hope for our families and our world.