Fathers-to-be Presence in the Delivery Room
It is advisable for fathers-to-be to be present at the births of their children but first they must be informed of what is expected of them in the delivery room. Psychological preparation is vital if they are to offer support to their wives. Their presence enables them to share in the joyous experience of bringing a new life into the world. Another plus side is that it can bring the couple closer together, strengthening their relationship. A father’s choice on whether to be or not be present at the birth of his child has both positives and negatives. On the other hand, fathers are warned that their presence is not always recommended for several reasons. First, it could have a negative impact on both mother and child. The result could be a Caesarean section, divorce or mental disturbance.
Researches by obstetricians say that the presence of fathers or other male figures such as doctors in the delivery room complicates the labor process. The father’s restlessness and impatience distracts the mother and causes her to release adrenaline (Pernoll & Benson, 2001). The adrenaline hinders production of the oxytocin, a hormone meant to trigger contractions. Due to the hormonal imbalance, the labor process is lengthened and is more painful. Obstetricians claim that the most ideal environment for delivery is in the presence of a mid-wife only. Here, delivery is faster, easier and less painful compared to cases where the father or male doctors are present.
However, there have been oppositions to this claim. Times are changing and with it come changes in culture. More and more fathers-to-be are now expected to be present in the delivery rooms to offer emotional support to their wives. Critics argue that this choice should be based entirely on what the couple wants, and not on what they term as baseless findings. If the mother wants the father present, and he is comfortable with it then he should be. However, if the mother opts to give birth only in the presence of a midwife, this wish should also be granted.
Risks Faced by Infants from Poor Backgrounds
Infants are vulnerable to a number of risks. The risks are even higher to those borne by poor mothers than those borne by middle class mothers. Poverty heightens the risk of poor health and occurrence of diseases. Poor mothers do not take in the right kinds of foods before and during pregnancy, and in turn, negatively affecting the health of the child. The child may be malnourished and under weight, or die later because of heart-related disease. In addition, if they survive, their speech development, growth and maturity will be slower than normal. Middle class mothers with access to the right foods bear infants with ideal weight who grow and develop faster.
Poor mothers are more likely to suffer from depression compared to middle-class mothers. Maternal depression interferes with the ability to take care of the child, hindering the child’s development (Benson & Haith, 2009). Their inadequacies lead them to engage in harmful habits such as drinking, smoking and abusing other drugs. As a result, they are not able to care for their babies, leaving them vulnerable to illnesses. Depression may cause mothers to mistreat or even neglect their young ones, causing injury and sickness.
Infants born to poor mothers generally have a low I.Q. compared to those from well-to-do backgrounds. Absence of the father and low levels of education of the parents causes poverty, and so the mother cannot afford toys and books to stimulate the infant’s intellectual development. Middle class mothers have the financial capacity to access these toys and books, and more often than not, their children turn out to be more intelligent than those from poor backgrounds are. In addition, the presence of a father is a large contributor to financial stability, creating a better environment for infant development.
A factor causing single motherhood is teen pregnancies, whereby the teen father is not mature enough to take care of a child and so runs away. The teen mother is then left to her own devices to take care of the health, growth and development needs of the child. A formal campaign should be launched to educate against teen pregnancies, which in turn will reduce the number of infants exposed to risks. In the event that a teen pregnancy occurs, parents should not abandon their children. Rather, they should support them with their infants to prevent pre-disposition of the infants to risks.
Still on education, generally, poor mothers have limited knowledge on pre-natal and post-natal care. The mothers do not know what diet to take to produce nutritious breast milk for their children. Infants are not given post-natal care in the form of vaccination against tuberculosis, measles and other infections. The result is malnourishment and high mortality rate among infants. Awareness should be created among expectant mothers on the importance of diet and where possible, these mothers should be provided with the correct diet (Laungani, 2007).
Infants from poor mothers are at the risk of not getting enough affection from their mothers. Frustration arising from the poverty situation causes mothers to shout and punish their children as they vent out their feelings. Such treatment is an impediment to the mental wee-being of the infants. Children raised in such environments grow up with feelings of anxiety, low-self esteem and depression. Such effects are not short-term; they stay with the individual through to their adult life.
Individualist vs. Collectivist Cultures
Cultures are divided into two broad groups namely individualist and collectivist cultures. As the name suggests, individualist cultures focus on personal accomplishment of goals at the expense of the greater good of the group as a whole. The outcome is a highly competitive spirit, and a sense of independence among individuals, each striving to achieve their own objective. Any external threat to one’s interest is met with opposition from the individual. In this culture, individuals are on a continuous quest for liberation and self-gratification and are typical of the United States and countries in Western Europe.
In these nations, people are often competing for higher positions in the corporate ladder. On the other hand, the collectivist culture emphasizes on the goals of the group. Individual interests are put aside for the collective gain of the group, community or society (Laungani, 2007). In this way, interdependence and interaction between people is enhanced. The rationale behind this culture is that the need of the group as a whole is greater than the needs of the individual units. Collectivism is a common feature in China, Japan, Korea and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) (Spielberger, 2004).
Individualistic culture may be political, philosophical, economical or methodological in nature. Political individualism aims at shielding an individual against impositions laid by the state or other governing authority. Philosophical individualism encompasses a number of ideas. It puts the self-interest first, encouraging people to act on their emotions. It also brings focus to social justice desired in the society. Such communities have stringent laws on gender equality and human rights. It is under philosophical individualism that people fight for liberation from the state, seeking to not comply with its regulations.
Economic individualism gives people the freedom to make choices on how to employ their economic resources. For example, when, where and what to buy. Methodological individualists object to the premise of collective government. They view the government as being composed of individuals with divergent opinions. In this stride, a comment made by one member of the government does not necessarily represent the views of the other members. The individualist culture fosters independence, enhances the uniqueness of individuals with less pressure to conform to the ideals of society.
The most common illustration of collectivism is communalism in the USSR. There was no recognition of individual efforts; individuals were expected to work not for their own good but for the good of their community. There was also no individual ownership of property. All resources were owned by the state and allocated to communities. Economic decisions on what, how much and for whom to produce were made by the state. Consumer goods were supplied to households in predetermined rations. All these actions were aimed at promoting equality among the people.
Though this system promotes the collective good, it fails to promote independence. The well-being of individuals is entirely dependent on the actions of other members in society. In addition, individuals are not motivated to work hard as there is no recognition and rewards to their individual efforts. In collectivism, interaction leads to the fear of rejection from one’s peers arising from a difference in opinion. With individualist culture, there is a high probability of loneliness as one pursues self-interest. Developmental psychology should recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the cultures.
Children become what they see around; they adopt the culture and behavior of their surroundings. An individualist culture may promote selfishness and unhealthy competition in children. However, a collectivist way of life may encourage laziness and low self-esteem. Instead of educating people to adopt either of these extreme systems, psychologists should encourage amalgamation of both to maximize the benefits of each. Desirable qualities such as socialization, hard work and ambition, healthy competition and group participation should be inculcated into people’s minds.
Benson, J.B. & Haith, M.M. (2009). Social and Emotional Development in Infancy and Early Childhood. California, CA: Academic Press.
Laungani, P. (2007). Understanding Cross-Cultural Psychology: Eastern and Western Perspectives. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India.
Pernoll, M.L. & Benson, R.C. (2001). Benson & Pernoll’s Handbook of Obstetrics & Gynecology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Spielberger, C.D. (2004). Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology: Volume 3. California, CA: Academic Press.