Dear Mr. Dad: I’m in the US Air Force, stationed in Italy. My wife is 5.5 months pregnant with our first and I’ve asked our on-base obstetricians to allow me to catch the baby when it’s born. I feel I should be the first person to hold my child, not some doctor we’ll never see again. They don't seem too happy with this and I fear I won't get the chance. Since we're overseas, we don't have the option of choosing a different OB. Am I being petty?A: It wasn’t all that long ago that dads weren’t allowed in the delivery room at all, let alone to get involved in the actual delivery. In fact there was a case back in the 70s of an expectant dad being arrested for trying to attend the birth of his child. That idiotic attitude changed after a while, and cutting the cord became the standard. Today, things have progressed even further, and lots of dads do exactly what you want to do: catch the baby. So no, you’re not being petty. Hopefully, other expectant dads will read this and be inspired by you.
Now, just because you CAN catch your baby, you shouldn’t plan on doing it alone. Having a trained medical professional by your side during the process is pretty important. The OBs you have on base will do nicely. But keep in mind that all sorts of unexpected things can (and often do) happen during labor and delivery, and you may need someone with expert skills to step in. So you don’t want to alienate them.
Okay, let’s talk about why the docs may be skittish about letting you catch the baby—even though you’re well within your rights to ask. The problem is that even though it’s getting more common, it’s still not the norm, which means they may not have a huge amount of experience with dads doing what you want to do. Throw in some worries about potential complications to your wife and soon-to-be-born little one, and you can see where they’re coming from.
Another reasons the OBs might be less-than enthusiastic to let you catch your baby is that they’re worried you might inadvertently do something wrong or pass out. I caught my youngest when she was born (it wasn’t an option with the older two) and I can tell you that just-born babies are slippery You can minimize everyone’s worries by asking the docs to demonstrate exactly what you should do and when. Then practice. A lot. Keep in mind that the medical team’s first priority will be your wife and baby. That means that no matter how much you’ve practiced, someone will have to be standing right next to you, just in case.
One more thing to keep in mind. A lot more dads plan to catch their newborn than actually do. Some get squeamish and change their minds last minute. Others have the decision made for them. No matter how well-prepared a laboring mom is, she really needs your support, which means she may want you up by her head, helping her focus, instead of down south. So talk to her well in advance and ask what she’d prefer (keeping in mind that this could change in the delivery room).
Catching your baby is a very special thing. But he or she couldn’t care less who does the job. Your wife, on the other hand, will. As with the medical team, your first priority should be to her. If she says she needs you to be someplace in particular, be there.
MrDad Shopping Cart
Your cart is empty
"Ask Mr. Dad" Archives
"When I diagnose a pregnancy in one of my patients, I put this book on the must-read list."
--Lissa Rankin, M.D. OB/GYN, physician and author of What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend
"Seemingly every topic of concern is covered... a must-have for anyone expecting."
"The best guidebook to date for both the prospective father and his partner in their journey through the nine months of pregnancy... a must for fathers-to-be."
--John Munder Ross, Ph.D., author of What Men Want and Father and Child
One would be hard put to find a question about having a baby that’s not dealt with here, all from the father’s point of view.
For fathers soon expecting the ultimate gift—a new member of the family—The Expectant Father is his best friend.
“Armin Brott is totally believable, funny, and knowledgeable. The DVD is loaded with extremely helpful information and is nicely put together with beautiful graphics. A must-have for anyone who's ever heard, 'Honey, we're pregnant...'"
—Marcus, Santa Fe, NM
“Toolbox for New Dads offers fathers an education in everything from holding a baby to staying connected to your partner.”
“The perfection of his wisdom is that it’s so simple--suggestions that seem rather “duh” until you consider that when you were first home from the hospital it took days of trial and error to get into a groove.”
—Snarky Momma Blog
“Watch this DVD and be new-Daddy-in-the-know instead of being new-Daddy-in-the-dark! You’ll be glad you did, your wife will be glad you did, and most importantly, your new baby will be glad you did.”
—Zeke, Atlanta, GA
“...stood out immediately... because of its perceptive insights”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“This book would make a great gift for any new dad.”
—Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D., author of Pregnancy and Your Baby's First Year
Winner, "Adding Wisdom Award" from Parent-to-Parent
Named one of Child Magazine's Best Parenting Books
“Read a book? Who has time? But you’d be wise to find some so you can take advantage of a fabulous resource... The New Father.”
—Sesame Street Parents
“Brott demystifies child development and offers insight and practical advice on living with a toddler. It's a book that will make fathers understand what’s going on with their children, and enjoy the vital role they play in their kids' lives even more.”
—Pamela Abrams, former Editor-in-Chief, Child magazine
“Great book. Continuing wisdom from the guy who's really made it possible for me and so many dads I know to be as involved with our kids as we want to be. No question that this book has made me a better dad. Just ask my son.”
—Antoine, Boston, MA
“Brott discusses the larger experience of being a father, in a well-crafted, sensible manner ... gives contemporary fathers their own comprehensive reference to the challenging and delightful toddler years.”
—Ericka Lutz, Amazon.com
“Another great book in an intelligent series for dads. Armin Brott writes terrific parenting books for dads. They are well researched and the tone is encouraging and friendly.”
Armin Brott has a way of addressing the concerns of parenting in a humorous, honest, and educated way. More than just a parenting book though, he also discusses the issues within the other relationships in your life and offers great solutions and tips on how to cope.
"Too often, those who do the most for us are supported the least. Military fathers certainly fall into this category. Brott's wonderfully informative book is not only a much needed salute to the importance of these unique dads, but it is also a field manual for their most important front of all—the home front."
—Roland C. Warren, President, National Fatherhood Initiative
"As an Army brat I know firsthand that its not only our military men and women who serve the country—their spouses and children serve proudly as well. This wonderful book is a great resource with useful checklists and advice that covers every stage of childhood. It will help ease what are difficult journeys."
—Linda Powell, daughter of General Colin Powell, US Army Ret., former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
I first purchased this book to use as a basis for my work with children of military parents. The book's content was insightful, well organized, and thorough. I felt the book was so helpful, I purchased several copies and sent them to my son, who is a military officer to present to his men."
"Fantastic resource! We give a copy to each deploying Marine--and another to his family. It's filled with information and tips to keep those family connections strong during difficult times."
—Robert, XO, USMC
"Buying this for my husband was the best investment I could ever have made in my family. It helped his stay connected to our kids while he was gone--and helped me stay connected to him. Highly recommended.
—Eloise, Air Force wife
If you're facing a challenge that requires a unique, customized solution, Mr. Dad does coaching for individuals or families.