dads

Mamas on Bedrest: What’s Dad Got to do With it?

June 18th, 2017

In the birthing world, dad’s often take a very distant third place behind the baby and the mama (and usually in that order!). Many men have told me that they want to support their partners, but are unsure how, and feel left in the dark when its time to make major decisions.  My own experience having my daughter was a prime example. When my daughter was first delivered by c-section, she was having difficulty breathing so they whisked her over to the warming table to clear her airway and check her out. Meanwhile, my uterus would not contract as it should have and I began bleeding. As my obstetrician went to work on me and the neonatal team was working on my daughter, my daughter’s father was standing in the middle of the floor clueless as to what was happening. He says of that day,

“I didn’t know if I was going to come home with one of you, both of you or neither of you!”

Health care providers often neglect to acknowledge and include fathers in the perinatal process. While this oversight is almost always unintentional, health care providers and other birth workers often explain their actions with,

“I’m so focused on the well being of mama and baby, I kind of forget about the needs of the dad.”

This is a horrible oversight on the part of the medical team, and a terrible omission of a very valuable resource.

When a woman is pregnant, and even more notably when she is in labor, she’s very vulnerable. She can’t function at her normal level due to the physical changes going on in her own body, and as her body is developing the fetus. She needs her partner more than ever to help with very practical activities around the house as well as for emotional support. In my time as a doula, as much as I love supporting the women I serve, a wonderfully supportive partner almost always trumps what I can offer a mom. The bond that the couple shares having created the baby is now heightened as that baby makes its way into the world. Whether he is quietly whispering encouragement in her ear, massaging her back during contractions or literally holding her up as she labors dads’ strength and very presence are often the most soothing balm for a laboring mama.

And dads’ presences are critical to the growth and development of their children. Not only do dads give infants a sense of safety and security, as children develop, dads’ influence contributes to a lower rate of behavior problems, delinquency, depression, substance abuse and overall psychological adjustment.(1) Additionally,

“Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults’ sense of well-being, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing about the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers,”

says Ronald Rohner, the director of the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut.(2)

Dads seem to also be responsible for giving their children persistence. Laura Padilla Walker, a researcher from Brigham Young University found that dads who provide loving but firm guidance, and encourage their children to persist-even when it’s hard-endow their children with life long persistence that is closely linked to future success. Additionally, a persistent personality, in turn, was related to less delinquency and more engagement in school over time.

“Our study suggests fathers who are most effective are those who listen to their children, have a close relationship, set appropriate rules, but also grant appropriate freedoms,” study researcher Laura Padilla-Walker.

So none of this is really anything new. We know that dads are important and that their presence and loving interaction have a tremendous positive impact on their children. So today, Father’s Day, show some dads that you know some love-whether it’s your own father, a father figure, or a guy that you know who is really giving his all to be there for his children. And it’s not whether or not a dad is in love with the mother that counts. It is important for children to see their parents treating one another with respect. But parents don’t have to be married to exert their loving positive influences on their children. It’s their presence in their children’s lives that matters most.

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads!!!

Share a story of a great father that you know in our comments section below!!

 

References:

The Huffington PostThe Important Role of Dad, By Dr. Gail Gross. June 12, 2014

LiveScience – The Science of Fatherhood: Why Dad’s Matter. Stephanie Pappas, June 15, 2012

The University of Connecticut, Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance & Rejection

Laura M. Padilla-Walker, Randal D. Day, W. Justin Dyer, Brent C. Black The Journal of Early Adolescence, vol. 33, 4: pp. 433-457., First Published June 18, 2012.
Transnational Relations Between Perceived Parental Acceptance and Personality Dispositions of Children and Adults: A Meta-Analytic Review.A. Khaleque, R. P. Rohner. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2011; 16 (2): 103 DOI: 10.1177/1088868311418986

 

Mamas on Bedrest: Why it’s critical that WE celebrate fathers

June 17th, 2015

Hello Mamas,

Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 21st. How are you planning to celebrate the very special man in you and your baby’s life?

Perhaps you are thinking,

“My baby’s father isn’t in our lives!”

I hear you. I am no longer with my children’s father, yet he is an important part of their lives-and mine as we are co-parenting them. But if you have remarried, or there is a “father figure” in your child’s life who has stepped up and stepped in and is fulfilling the role and duties of father, I invite you to celebrate that man this Sunday (and everyday!!)

I know that this website is Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, and the whole focus is to provide you with the tools and support that you need to have a fantastic pregnancy and a healthy baby. But I would be remiss, and some may even go so far as to say that my actions would be unethical, if I didn’t highlight the important role of fathers-biologic and otherwise-in the lives of birthing women and their babies.

So let’s start with mamas. Fathers/partners provide emotional support throughout the pregnancy. Yeah, sometimes they just don’t get us, but hey, there are times when we don’t get us either! Those who are present are taken on the rollercoaster ride that is pregnancy; full of ups, downs, mood swings, close calls and the joys of labor, delivery and-the baby! As overwhelming as childbearing is for us, imaging how colossal it must be for men?  They have to watch the woman that they love (hopefully) grow, change, be uncomfortable (often times sick!!), be on bed rest, endure the endless tests and treatments and then the grand finale-labor and delivery (or a c-section, major surgery) and be able to do very little to make the situation better for her. For many guys, this is this side of insanity! Guys inherently want to fix things and when it comes to childbearing, after insemination, there really isn’t much for them to do but watch and wait. And yes, for some men, this is too much and they leave. So kudos to those who stay, stick it out and hang in when the going is tough and are a solid rock for their women to lean on and rest upon.

The influence of a father, a daddy (a man who provides more than mere sperm donation!) in the lives of children is priceless. According to the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, 

“When fathers are involved in the lives of their children, especially their education, their children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior.”

In 2006, Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox, PhD co-authored a manual on fatherhood through the US Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration for Children and Families,  the Administration on Children, Youth and Families and the Children’s Bureau Office on Child Abuse and Neglect called, “The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children.” In this publication Rosenberg and Wilcox note that children raised by loving, married parents learn how a man is to treat a woman in the context of a healthy relationship. They also note that even when the parents aren’t married and don’t live together, children who see their fathers speaking to and treating their mothers with respect and courtesy learn that men are supposed to treat women with respect and courtesy (boys) and they learn that behavior that is not respectful and courteous is not acceptable (girls). In summary, Rosenberg and Wilcox found the following characteristics in children who had active fathers in their lives (regardless of the parental relationships)

  • Children with involved, caring fathers have better education outcomes that start in preschool and continue throughout their school careers.
  • Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood.
  • Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. As such, children whose fathers engage in rough housing are more likely to learn to cope with aggressive behaviors and learn its okay to strike out and explore without being anxious.
  • Children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior.
  • Boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems
  • Girls had stronger self­ esteem.
  • Children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.

What this study also found and what was also confirmed by a study done by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention is that lower income fathers are no less involved in their children’s lives than higher earning dads. In fact, many lower income fathers are more “hands on” with their children, especially those who didn’t live with their children all the time; caring for their children on weekends and for other extended periods of time and providing all the care and nurturing that mothers provide in addition to financial support.

I think that fathers are the unsung heroes of families. Yes, we mamas do much to keep that family moving and shaking, but a good dad really holds the family together. So this Sunday, do a little something special for the dads in you and your children’s lives. And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!!

 

 

Dad and Me

Me and My Dad, circa 1968.

 

References

The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2006). “The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children”. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. Written By Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox, PhD.

20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father Prepared by Stephen D. Green, Ph.D., Child Development Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, October 2000.

The Effects of Father Involvement: An Updated Research Summary of the Evidence Sarah Allen, PhD and Kerry Daly, PhD. Centre for Families, Work & Well-Being, University of Guelph 2007

Mamas on Bedrest: : How to Cope When Life Throws Unexpected Curves?

August 11th, 2014

Hello Mamas!

How do you cope when life throws you unexpected curves? This summer had one giant unexpected curve and I have been chasing my tail ever since! I had planned to drive to Boston from Austin with my kids, stopping to visit and stay with friends and family along the way. I had planned for a fun-filled month in Boston before leisurely driving to North Carolina for my family reunion and then dropping my kids off with their father for their summer visit. But just 2 days after I arrived in Boston, I received a call that my mother in law passed away. We rushed back to my mother in laws funeral, driving a frantic 981 miles in 2 days. I spent a weekend with my ex-inlaws (need I say more) and from that point on, my leisurely schedule was completely blown out of the water. And while I did accomplish most of what I had planned to do this summer, I feel completed wiped out and in need of  a “vacation from my vacation.”

I thought of you all often. Bedrest is a similar curve thrown into the middle of your pregnancy, obliterating all your pregnancy plans. So how do you cope when life throws  you such an unexpected curve?

I found for myself, focusing on the essentials was key. This  is a similar sentiment shared by not only many of the Mamas on Bedrest in our book, “From Mamas to Mamas: The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest”, but it was also echoed by the dads. As one dad put it,

“I had to focus on what was really important and then let everything else go.”

He is so right! This summer, after my plans and timing went askew, I had to focus on doing what needed to be done. For me, that meant keeping things steady and fun for my kids (this was the first death of a close relative that they had ever experienced) and keeping my own spirits up and taking really good care of myself so that I can take care of those around me. But what are the essential things Mamas on Bedrest need to focus on during this time of upheavel?

1. Take exquisite care of yourself!  Most Mamas on Bedrest want to focus on their babies, but Mamas,  the best thing you can do for your baby is to be in the best possible health yourself. Be very vigilant with your diet feeding your body nutrient dense foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, leans cuts of protein and lots of water. The more nutrients your body has to work with the more it will be able to be in service to you and your baby! Nature has designed it that your baby will get what it needs from your body to grow and develop. Let’s be sure that your body has enough nutrient supply so that the baby can have what he/she needs without depleting your body and leaving you at risk for illness, injury or disease. Also get plenty of good restorative sleep and check in with your doctor to see  what are safe ways to move your body while on bed rest.

2. Make sure the essential needs of your family are met. If you have other children at home, you and your partner will need to make sure that their routines remain as regular as possible, and that they have plenty of love and support from both of you as well as from friends and family. The honest truth is that you and your partner will be stressed and stretched during this time. If friends and family are available to help out, take them up on their offers for childcare and household help. These “gifts” are invaluable.

3. Make sure you and your partner stay connected. This is a frantic time for Dads. They have to stand by while the women they love do some serious work to bring their babies into this world. For men to not be able to “fix it” can be truly frustrating as well as humbling. Also, Dads are feeling the stress of the pregnancy as much as moms-albeit in a very different way. Make sure to stay connected during this time. Take time to be together, to talk, share and yes, cuddle. Sex is usually prohibited during bedrest, but hugging, kissing and cuddling are not and those intimacies can make a world of difference for Mamas, Dads and babies!!!

4. Release Obligation. Bedrest has a hidden blessing: You are no longer held to the myriad of obligations you are committed to. To that end, take a bit of time while on bed rest to really ask yourself, “Do I really need to do all those work and community activities? Which ones really fill you and which ones are “Shoulds”? Which activities should you not only suspend due to bed rest, but indefinitely? Take this time to sort these out.

5. Stay positive an have fun. Bedrest is hard and most women will tell you that the mental/emotional battles were the worst! If you can stay positive and focus on the joy of your baby, you will do well navigating Bedrest. It’s not easy. Difficult tests and complications will sometimes bring you down. But if you can surround yourself with friends, family and things you love, you will make it though.

 

Have these tips helped you? Find these and more in our book, “From Mamas to Mamas, The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest” available for immediate download now on Amazon.com

Have a particular question you’d like to ask and have answered?  Join us for our Free Third Thursday Teleseminar on August 21, 2014 from Noon – 1pm ET. Bedrest Coach Darline Turner will be ansering questions live from callers as well as answering questions submitted via e-mail. Register for the Free seminar to receive call in information. If you prefer to submit your question anonymously, send an e-mail to Info@mamasonbedrest.com by 5pm ET on Wednesday, August 20,2014.

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