Dads And The Delivery Room

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20191224

Sixty years ago, fewer than 15% of fathers were present at their child’s birth. Today 98% are there. It’s a cultural change that has been almost universally accepted. But the impact on dads has also gone largely un-examined.

Fi Glover meets dads who have experienced extremely different births. Most say that being there was the most momentous event of their lives. But, in private, some will also say the experience was one of the most bewildering and frightening.

Using special access to a maternity ward in London Fi Glover meets a father whose son was born prematurely at 27 weeks. He was offered support from the hospital’s counselling unit in the weeks afterwards. But it’s only in the last couple of years that perinatal counselling has become available to dads at all.

In Newcastle Dan Wilde recently found himself playing midwife when his partner Kate gave birth very quickly at home. His experience, backed recently by research from the Fatherhood Institute, shows how active participation during a birth can correlate with a lowering of anxiety. Theirs was a positive experience.

But what happens when fear and circumstance turn the dad into a spectator rather than a participant? Mark Williams, whose son was born via emergency caesarean section, was eventually diagnosed with PTSD related to birth trauma. He has become a campaigner for better awareness around paternal mental health and suggests that screening might have helped to protect him from an experience he was unable to cope with.

Produced by Sarah Cuddon
A Somethin’ Else Production for Radio 4

Today we expect dad to be at the birth. Fi Glover asks, \u2018Is this always the best idea?\u2019

2019122420191230 (R4)

Sixty years ago, fewer than 15% of fathers were present at their child’s birth. Today 98% are there. It’s a cultural change that has been almost universally accepted. But the impact on dads has also gone largely un-examined.

Fi Glover meets dads who have experienced extremely different births. Most say that being there was the most momentous event of their lives. But, in private, some will also say the experience was one of the most bewildering and frightening.

Using special access to a maternity ward in London Fi Glover meets a father whose son was born prematurely at 27 weeks. He was offered support from the hospital’s counselling unit in the weeks afterwards. But it’s only in the last couple of years that perinatal counselling has become available to dads at all.

In Newcastle Dan Wilde recently found himself playing midwife when his partner Kate gave birth very quickly at home. His experience, backed recently by research from the Fatherhood Institute, shows how active participation during a birth can correlate with a lowering of anxiety. Theirs was a positive experience.

But what happens when fear and circumstance turn the dad into a spectator rather than a participant? Mark Williams, whose son was born via emergency caesarean section, was eventually diagnosed with PTSD related to birth trauma. He has become a campaigner for better awareness around paternal mental health and suggests that screening might have helped to protect him from an experience he was unable to cope with.

Produced by Sarah Cuddon
A Somethin’ Else Production for Radio 4

Today we expect dad to be at the birth. Fi Glover asks, \u2018Is this always the best idea?\u2019