Fathers Make
a World of

Afterward III: New Thinking about Fatherhood: Protecting the Cave

The ancient archetype of a father at birth is that he stands guard at the opening to the cave to protect the birthing mother and their child. As we move through time he comes closer to the actual location of the birth itself; waiting, protecting. Then, in the late 20th century he enters the room and becomes involved. His first role was to protect the family from danger; wild animals or perhaps other tribes people…survival. As birth became more industrialized his role has altered. Could it be that the father is entering the birthing room for a more primal reason than we would like to think?

Is there a chance the danger is now coming from even closer to the mother and baby? Could it now be coming from inside the room itself? Has interference from our modern approach to birth, a natural physiological process, reached the point where fathers are now needed to intercede, to protect in a new way? Caesarean rates in some countries have escalated to as high as eighty percent. Interventions of every un-imaginable kind are rampant and much of what is being ‘done to’ the mother and child is unnecessary and pre-emptive.

What if a reason has evolved to have the father in the birthing room, in addition to bonding and support? Suppose that a modern form of a father’s protection is to guard against the excessive interference of people, equipment and artificial drugs into the very ordinary process of birth. Many interventions at birth are the result of over educated professionals, with good intentions, who are medically trained to intervene in a non-medical process.

Humanity cannot invent a drug that can work better than a mothers’ body can manufacture or a knife that is sharper than her instinctual nature.’

If a mother is properly protected and an environment is provided that is safe and warm and free from unnecessary interventions, distractions and interruptions; questions, examinations and conversations, she can get on with the business of being in her ‘instinctual brain’ and access all of the hormones and inner resources she and her body need to birth her baby in love, safety and empowerment.

When it comes to hospital births a father’s biggest challenge/dilemma is how to navigate/negotiate the gauntlet of this totally foreign environment. You will face emotional and physical situations as never before. These will pertain to you directly as well as the ones you love, want to protect and want the best for. There is no ‘good or right’ answer as to how to do this. Prepare yourself as best you can, get reasonable and satisfactory answers to your questions and remember to stay centered (use your tools) and above all trust your partners ability to give birth.

©2010, Patrick Houser

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Patrick Houser is a father and a grandfather. His second son's arrival was the first waterbirth in the U.S. This led him into nearly 25 years of support for both choices and working with parents. He has gained wide experience from various fields including a degree in marketing, owning a construction firm and a natural health centre. Patrick is a Life Coach and co-founder of Fathers-To-Be, a new concept in antenatal education, for men. Fathers-To-Be also offers consulting and training for health service providers. E-Mail or www.fatherstobe.org These articles are excerps from his book Fathers-To-Be Handbook: A road map for the transition to fatherhood.

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