Fatherhood as Taking the Child to Oneself: A Phenomenological Observation Study after Caesarean Birth

Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology 6 (2):1-9 (2006)
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Abstract

This paper describes the meaning of a father’s presence with a full-term healthy child delivered by caesarean section, as observed during the routine post-operative separation of mother and child. Videotaped observations recorded at a maternity clinic located in the metropolitan area of Stockholm, Sweden formed the basis for the study, in which fifteen fathers with their infants participated within two hours of elective caesarean delivery in the 37th - 40th week of pregnancy. A phenomenological analysis based on Giorgi’s method was conducted on the data. The description of the new father’s experiences that emerged pointed to a process of being and becoming in taking the child to himself. Fatherhood developed gradually as a result of recurrent experiences of the child’s expressions. There was an ebb and flow between taking on the role of being a father and physical withdrawal from the role. The findings of this study not only confirm previous accounts of new fathers’ experiences, but go further in revealing an ebb and flow variation in the fathers’ involvement. What this indicates is that the process of transition to fatherhood requires not only presence but time. The period required for this process thus must not be disturbed, but supported, trusting in the father’s ability to assume his role as a father. It is suggested that, in addition to their relevance in guiding the attitudes and expectations of those professionally involved in postnatal care and community health, these findings could be useful in antenatal courses for parents, and especially in instances when caesarean birth is planned, to highlight the meaning of the role of fathers as caregivers. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology , Volume 6, Edition 2 August 2006

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