The Father’s Role in the Birthing Process
Klaus and Kennell (1976) found that it was very important for the father to be present for the birth and be an active participant in it. In follow-up studies, they found fathers who were present at the birth were less likely to abuse that child. Once the child has nursed initially, then the baby should be passed to the father and put on his chest.
Klaus and Kennell also believe that the optimal human-bonding period is the first 12 to 36 hours after birth. During this period, it is best if mother and father spend time in bed together holding the baby. During this time, they should pass the baby back and forth so there is extensive skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the child and the father and the child.
Few adults experienced this kind of bonding during their birth. If you were born in a hospital, you were probably whisked away to the nursery after only minimal contact with your mother and had little or no contact with your father. If there were any birth complications, you may have been separated from your mother for hours, days, or even weeks.
If this is true, you likely carry imprints of this loss of emotional synchrony with your mother during your birth experience that impacts your adult relationships. Pre- and perinatal research is just discovering the immense power of these very early experiences in creating internal working models of reality and how they unconsciously direct an individual’s life.
The Role of Siblings in the Birthing Process
Until recently, young siblings were not allowed to visit the hospital at a birth, and most are still prohibited or discouraged from being physically present at the birth of a brother or sister. In home births, members of the nuclear and extended family form a support system for the parents.
Research indicates that people who attend a childbirth are automatically bonded with the child, reducing both sibling rivalry and child abuse. Hospitals may have to change their policies again as a result of the home-birthing movement and new research findings.