safe motherhood


The first few weeks

This is how two fathers summed up the first few weeks after the birth:

"It would be better if I didn't have to go to work in the early weeks. Home life patterns are disrupted, but working life has to remain as normal." (Father of one, construction worker)

"Society tells men little about fatherhood. Unless you have a good father as a role model, no one tells you it's all right to be emotional and protective and there is no advice about returning to work after the birth and how terrible you feel leaving your new baby behind. As the baby grows, weekends and holidays become a different world from the rest of the week. The providing role is exchanged for the supporting role and you're knee-deep in feeding, nappy changing, visits to the shops and trips to the park." (Ian)

How fathers can make a difference

One important contribution that you can make as a father surprisingly concerns breastfeeding. The father's approval of a partner breastfeeding has been identified as a key factor in their partner's decision to do so and its subsequent success.

A US study showed that those mothers who breastfed benefited when partners were able to provide practical, emotional and informational support. Women without a knowledgeable and supportive partner are much more likely to give up in the first six weeks of breastfeeding.

Research also suggests that fathers measure their own developing relationship with their baby against that of their partner and often feel they are missing out. However, those who are committed to breastfeeding cope with these feelings by postponing the development of their own special relationship until the child is weaned. There are, however, lots of other ways of being involved in the early weeks, for example, by sharing tasks such as bathing and changing the baby and providing help with feeding.

Topics In This Article: