Contemporary Western culture incorporates a belief that fathers should attend the birth of their child, but is this always a healthy assumption to make? There has been an increasing trend in the West for fathers to be present during childbirth (David et al., 1994; Longworth, 2006; MacMillan, 1994; Palkovitz, 1987), with a cultural expectation in the West that they should (Chan and Paterson-Brown, 2002; Longworth, 2006). Fathers are expected to perform a supportive role during childbirth, but many are unclear about what to expect (Vehvilainen-Julkunen and Liukkkonnen, 1998). Hollins Martin (2008) found that the majority of fathers hold positive attitudes towards participation in the birth, with 97 per cent expressing a desire to be present. This result is in keeping with a survey by the Royal College of Midwives which found that 98 per cent of fathers in the UK want to participate (Reid, 1994). This leaves just 2 or 3 per cent of fathers who desire to relinquish the role. When this occurs, a blameless approach should be taken and attempts should be made to understand and problem solve. For example, by recruiting surrogate support from a friend, sister, mother or doula (Hodnett, 2002).
Hollins Martin, C. J. (2012). Partners at the birth. In C. R. Martin (Ed.), Perinatal Mental Health: a clinical guide. M & K Update