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Last Updated: Friday, 10 October, 2003, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
New dads want more involvement
Jane Elliott
BBC News Online Health Staff

Father and child
Fathers want more involvement

When Brian Brady went with partner Heather to get the first glimpse of their unborn child he was surprised to see there was no provision for him.

"I remember when we went for the first scan, that although they should have expected me to be there that they did not seem to assume I was coming and had to go and find me a chair.

"It just seemed that they did not normally have partners.

"In general it appeared that they were just talking to Heather."


Like many men he was starting to feel that birth and parenthood is often perceived as purely a woman's domain.

But like many men he feels it is time for changes.

They need to get the men involved
Brian Brady

"I can understand why this is happening, but they need to get the men involved.

"I do not think it will be an easy thing for them to do though."

He said that men were often given token tasks at the birth, when there were real ways they could become involved.

One man said he'd been encouraged to bath his baby wherever possible so that he had a practical task which allowed him to bond closely with his son.

But statistics show that more and more men are choosing to be with their partner at the birth and saying they want to get as involved as possible in the process.

But many still feel they are not encouraged to take an active part.

Now a report has urged midwives and other health professionals to ensure they include the fathers as much as possible in the whole birthing process.


Mary Newburn, head of the National Childbirth Trust Policy Research Department, who co-wrote the report, explained that even the name 'maternity services' could leave the man feeling alienated.

"The provisions are very hit and miss at the moment.

"The study suggests that on the whole midwives are doing a good job of encouraging men's involvement in pregnancy care.

"However, there needs to be a greater focus on men's specific needs at this time, rather than seeing them only in a supportive capacity."

Their randomly selected survey showed that although midwives were more highly rated than GPs and hospital doctors, that men still felt left out.

Three out of ten men said they were not getting the information they needed from their midwife, one in five men said they had not been encouraged to ask questions and one in six felt midwives were reluctant to listen to them.

One first time father told the study: "Professionals should appreciate there are two parents and involve the father in all aspects - not only showing a picture on screen twice in nine months.

"Midwives sometimes give the impression that you are inconveniencing them when you wish to see the scan."

The survey was published in the RCM Midwives Journal.

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