BIRTH OF A FAMILY: The New Role of the Father in Childbirth by Nathan Cabot Hale

BIRTH OF A FAMILY: The New Role of the Father in Childbirth

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This is a book about childbirth from the father's point of view,"" Nathan Hale begins. ""From my own personal experience and observations of other men, I can attest to the fact that there is a male instinct to have children and to share the experience of childbirth with a beloved woman."" Unfortunately, his experience is secondhand, his observations are limited to a few couples, and his effusive text is disjointed and repetitious. Intrigued by a smiling-infant photograph in Leboyer's Birth without Violence, sculptor Hale became interested in the father's role while completing his Cycle of Life project. He looked into the pioneering efforts of Dick-Read and Leboyer, decided he had to witness childbirth, and stumbled on a sympathetic Harvard obstetrician willing to accommodate him. The labor and delivery photographs resemble those which new parents now proudly show their friends and families--faces grimacing, stressed, jubilant. Hale describes the stages of labor for each couple and comments on how helpful the men were. But he also inserts his own feelings, which are not always invigorating, and further burdens the text with irritating opinions (""We men have been little boys for five thousand years and now we must be men""). The result is an album of moving but not uniquely diverting photographs introduced in ingratiating I-was-there terms. Prospective fathers will find broader and better grounded insights in Bittman and Zalk's Expectant Fathers (1978).

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 1979
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday