With the effects of this painful pandemic making it’s subtle way into the delivery room, a recent survey I was reading about in The Guardian Newspaper caught my eye & made me more aware of the depth & breadth of the impacts that this might make on not only our, but also our children's well-being.
As you may know, or indeed may have experienced, due to pandemic restrictions, expectant mothers had to attend her pre-natal scans and other pregnancy checks without her partner for support. What impact could this have on the mother, the father & indeed the newborn baby?
Dr D’Souza, a Monash University psychology lecturer, practising psychologist and specialist in parental attachment, decided to investigate. She is now running a full-scale study with the University of South Australia into the long-term impact on fathers and non-birth partners from being cut off from pregnancy involvement last year. She suspects many will have felt it strongly and there might be ongoing effects.
The researchers are talking to fathers and partners from around Australia and also asking how bonding during COVID pregnancies compares with their experience of previous pregnancies.
“Two things have come out very strongly in early responses to her research survey: ‘I’m feeling very excluded, left out and feel like I don’t belong’, and the other is stress on the couple’s relationship even though it’s otherwise strong,” said Dr D’Souza.
To cope with isolation from their partners’ pre-natal checks, “some [partners] dialled in, some got pictures from scans, but it’s still not the same thing. Dads appreciate the opportunity to ask questions and feel the baby’s heartbeat,” Dr D’Souza said.
“We know that pregnancy involvement predicts involvement post-birth; we’re thinking if dads weren’t allowed to be there, do they see any after-effects of that?”
During 2020 when fathers were isolated from checkups, they didn’t get to know what was happening or have real contact and learn about the growth of their child. As Ms D’Souza’s research continues, many Dads are working really hard to create that bond, knowing it is important to put in more effort afterwards because they missed the bit when their partner was pregnant.
Good luck Papas, I’m sure you can make up for lost time. Let's talk about this with our men and give them the support & resources they need.