Social Distancing: The Perfect Time for Digital Outreach about the Importance of early paternal Involvement.
I’m writing this post under the unusual circumstances we all find ourselves plunged into. People across the Country, sick or not, are doing the same - in an effort to stem the tide of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Normal life is suspended. We don’t know what is coming. (This is actually always true, we’re just not usually as aware of it). But given the dualistic nature of our existence, much good can come of our current situation. We can all appreciate the extra time it provides to spend with our family and do extra hand-washing.
When fathers are actively involved in the lives of their children, the children thrive in their development and in school. In fact they thrive in every measurable way. So it should not come as a surprise that fathers have a central and unique role in the health outcomes of baby and mother when their involvement begins during pregnancy. Many studies continue to tell us that when dads are involved in the pregnancy, attend prenatal visits, and ultrasounds , help moms with household chores and provide financial support, the father factor carries a buffer against complications during the pregnancy and predicts a healthy birth outcome for the baby and the mother. By contrast infants with absent fathers are more likely to be born with low birthweight, Involved fathers during pregnancy may also protect the baby against neurodevelopometntal delays when medical risk factors are present. Regardless of race or ethnicity, the newborn deaths-rate of father-absent infants has been found to be nearly four times that of their counterparts with involved dads.
A father’s presence during the birth is a powerful predictor leading to a healthier baby and a healthier mom. In a study comparing father skin-to-skin care with conventional care during the first two hours after birth, newborn infants in the fathers skin-to skin group cried less and became drowsy sooner. Simple interventions such as bathing in the newborn period has been shown to have a long-lasting effect enhancing father involvement. Fathers can also play a critical role in supporting maternal breastfeeding. And conversely, if feeling excluded and competitive can undermine it. Many birthing hospitals now have programs designed for expectant fathers and offer resources for them as key partners in the start-up of the new family.
Fathers have been shown to be as nurturant and as competent and capable of reading their infant’s cues as are mothers. Father presence buffers against stressors. Paternity leave - especially longer leaves of several weeks the studies tell us, improves the outcome for marriage, encourages parent-child bonding, and the well-being of the family. National paid parental leave for fathers, as well as for mothers will provide a real advantage to working families. Empowering more dads with parental leave means they can achieve their professional goals and be supportive nurturing fathers and partners.
The fathers of our country are key to its survival. I don’t know about you but I’ve been very contemplative and reflective during these last trying weeks. The one thing this collective experience has provided for us all is a chance to realize what things are important. For me family and faith have become even more important. I also enjoy encouraging the ongoing renewal of fatherhood in our society.
Till next time,