For too long, birth trauma has been seen as a woman’s issue. This is not only inaccurate, but it also does a disservice to fathers who experience birth injuries. Birth injuries in particular can have a devastating impact on fathers and their families.
How fathers experience birth trauma
One of the primary ways that birth trauma affects fathers is through the strain of watching their partner go through a difficult birth experience. Fathers may also experience feelings of helplessness, guilt and even fear if the birth does not go according to plan or there are complications. Additionally, some birth injuries can have long-term consequences that require ongoing care and support from both parents.
The impact of birth trauma on fathers
It is not uncommon for birth trauma to have an adverse effect on fathers. Fathers who have previously experienced birth trauma may find it difficult to muster enthusiasm and excitement for a subsequent birth as the memories of the last birth can be difficult to process and manage. As mentioned, for example, some men may feel a sense of shame and guilt if their partner or baby suffers an injury during birth. Some birth injuries, such as birth asphyxia or birth trauma, can cause lifelong impairments, which in turn can put a strain on the family as they attempt to adjust and cope. Additionally, fathers may experience difficulties with bonding with their children if their births have been traumatic.
It is important that fathers receive help for their birth trauma experiences. Fathers should be looked at as more than just a bystander, and their experiences of birth trauma should get acknowledged and addressed accordingly. Mental health services, such as counseling, should be made available to fathers in order to help them process their feelings and come to terms with the birth trauma and enable them to better support their partner and family as they adjust to life after birth trauma.